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Word of South 2021

2021 Artists

2021 Artists

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Multi-instrumentalist Randall Bramblett may be known as a Southern Rock Legend for playing on stage with rock heroes like Bonnie Raitt, The Allman Brothers Band, Steve Winwood and Widespread Panic. Respected for his songwriting – he penned the title track for the Grammy nominated Blind Boys of Alabama’s album, adding to a long catalog of songs covered by Raitt, Gregg Allman, Bonnie Bramlett, Hot Tuna, Delbert McClinton, Chuck Leavell and more. But it’s Bramblett’s own career as frontman, creating 11 albums, where his artistry is in full display. Deep into his self-described second act of his storied solo career, Bramblett’s talents are repeatedly praised by musicians, critics and fans. With a commitment to the necessary mutation of music, Bramblett has kept his career as fresh as the day it began. Randall will be appearing at Word of South with the author Janisse Ray.

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William “Scotty” Barnhart is an American jazz trumpeter. A two-time Grammy winner, he has played since 1993 as a featured soloist with the Count Basie Orchestra, and in September 2013 became its director. He has multiple recordings with pianist Marcus Roberts as well as recordings with Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Ray Charles, and Tito Puente. A solo CD, released with Unity Music, is titled Say It Plain and features Clark Terry, Ellis and Wynton Marsalis, Marcus Roberts, Jamie Davis and Etienne Charles; it achieved number 3 in the Jazz Charts. Also active as an educator and clinician, he is author of The World of Jazz Trumpet – A Comprehensive History and Practical Philosophy (published by Hal Leonard). He is a professor in the College of Music at Florida State University. Scotty will join with Wendell Brunious and friends at Word of South.

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The standard-bearer for a family of musicians with deep roots in the New Orleans Seventh Ward’s close-knit Creole community, Brunious ranks among the city’s most astute and elegant jazzmen, a trumpet titan in a trumpet town. His repertoire of more than 1,500 songs, built across a 40-year career, ranges from Louis Armstrong and Clifford Brown to the Beatles and Burt Bacharach. His personal lineage includes his father, John Picket Brunious Sr., a trumpeter who studied at Julliard and arranged music for Cab Calloway and Billy Eckstine. His uncle Willie Santiago was a renowned early jazz guitarist. His older brother John was a trumpeter who, like Wendell, led the venerable Preservation Hall Jazz Band. During late nights at the Bourbon Street nightclub the Ivanhoe, he played and arranged horn-heavy hits by the likes of Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears. He hit the road with Gladys Knight & the Pips and logged a year in New York City with legendary vibraphonist Lionel Hampton. He apprenticed alongside many great New Orleans musicians, including guitarist Justin Adams, with whom Brunious launched the first jazz brunch at Commander’s Palace restaurant in the mid-1970s. Wendell will be appearing at Word of South with the bassist Rodney Jordan, the keyboardist Bill Peterson, the drummer Nygel Anderson, sax player Joe Goldberg, trumpeter and bandleader Scotty Barnhart and other friends.

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Chuck Cannon says he:

  • was born in greenville, sc
  • moved to north sc
  • moved to myrtle beach, sc
  • picked up baseball
  • found girls
  • put baseball down
  • picked up guitar
  • found girls who were more fun
  • moved to franklin springs, ga
  • moved to nashville, tn
  • picked up songwriting
  • married wrong girl
  • laid down songwriting
  • divorced wrong girl
  • picked up songwriting again
  • married right girl
  • had 3 awesome kids
  • wrote hits with over 25 million plays at radio
  • quit trying to do that again
  • started making up songs for myself
  • songs got way better
  • made 4 cds
  • started performing way better songs
  • feels better now

Chuck will be doing two shows at Word of South, the first with the author Michael Farris Smith, and the second on his own.

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Will Kimbrough, Corky Hughes, and Grayson Capps converge to create a wonderful blend of original music, drawing from their repertoire as individual songwriters and also performing songs they have written together, bringing meaning and life to their lyrics through a variety of string instruments and vocals. They have a large repertoire of wonderful songwriting put to infectious uplifting masterful music.

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The chorus to the title track on the new Hayes Carll album, What It Is, is a manifesto. What it was is gone forever / What it could be God only knows.
What it is is right here in front of me / and I’m not letting go.
He’s embracing the moment. Leaving the past where it belongs, accepting there’s no way to know what’s ahead, and challenging himself to be present in both love and life. It’s heavy stuff. It also rocks. With a career full of critical acclaim and popular success, Carll could’ve played it safe on this, his sixth record, but he didn’t. The result is a musically ambitious and lyrically deep statement of an artist in his creative prime.

Hayes Carll’s list of accomplishments is long. His third album, 2008’s Trouble In Mind, earned him an Americana Music Association Award for Song of the Year (for “She Left Me for Jesus”). The follow-up, KMAG YOYO, was the most played album on the Americana Chart in 2011 and spawned covers by artists as varied as Hard Working Americans and Lee Ann Womack, whose version of “Chances Are” garnered Carll a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song. 2016’s Lovers and Leavers swept the Austin Music Awards, and was his fourth record in a row to reach #1 on the Americana Airplay chart. Kelly Willis and Kenny Chesney have chosen to record his songs, and his television appearances include The Tonight Show, Austin City Limits, and Later w/Jools Holland. Carll is the rare artist who can rock a packed dancehall one night and hold a listening room at rapt attention the next.

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Allison Clarke is a singer-songwriter based out of Nashville, Tennessee. Her acoustic pop style and soulful vocals capture crowds wherever she plays—from festivals throughout the southeast to songwriter rounds in Nashville. She cites artists like Colbie Caillat, John Mayer and Ed Sheeran as some of her biggest influences.

In May 2017, Allison released her first project, Back to You, featuring six faith-inspired songs that capture her poignant lyrical sensibilities and vocals. The EP quickly gained traction with her break-out song “Strong in You” garnering over 400,000 streams on Spotify.

In November 2020, Allison released her Live Oak EP—a collection of five songs that celebrate her family roots and hometown of Tallahassee, Florida. The project features songs like “What Day Would You Go Back To” and “Roots.” From upbeat beach tunes to heartfelt ballads, Allison captures her experiences in an authentic way that makes you want to stop, listen and sing along.

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Brought together by family ties and a shared appreciation for folk, rock, and roots music, The Currys are an Americana trio featuring brothers Jimmy and Tommy and cousin Galen Curry. Like many family groups, their songs are anchored by the sort of elastic, entwined harmonies that only seem to exist among kin. On their second record, West of Here, their songwriting chops match those interlocking voices, with all three members contributing songs to an album that deals with the constant search for home. For their third album, This Side of the Glass (2019), The Currys provide the organic, lived-in feel of roots music, but the album aspires to a greater variety of form and orchestration than earlier releases. This Side of the Glass is an insightful and satisfying new chapter from a band with many more stories to tell.

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Eric Eggers is a longtime Tallahassee resident who is a proud graduate of Florida State and Lincoln High School. Eric spent a decade as a local radio personality before taking a job with a local research non-profit. Now a writer and tv and film producer, Eric loves helping people tell their stories, and was honored to help Bob and Gail Knight with theirs.

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The Eyrie is Tallahassee Community College’s award-winning student art and literary magazine, which publishes original poetry, prose, art, and photography. The magazine also provides students enrolled in Literary Magazine Production at TCC with the experience of magazine production, from the evaluation of materials to blue-line copy. The Eyrie (the nest of a bird of prey) was founded in 1981 by two students, with the motto of “quality, good taste, and creativity.” The magazine is published annually and distributed free to all college personnel and students, and to the public upon request. For the Word of South event, the Eyrie will be unveiling its 2020 edition.

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GRAMMY Award Winner, Two-Time EMMY Nominee, 2019 WAMMIE Award Winner- Dom Flemons is originally from Phoenix, Arizona and currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area. He is known as “The American Songster” since his repertoire of music covers over 100 years of American folklore, ballads, and tunes. Flemons is a music scholar, historian, record collector and a multi-instrumentalist. He is considered an expert player on the Banjo, Fife, Guitar, Harmonica, Jug, Percussion, Quills, and Rhythm Bones.

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Blood Vinyls (Anhinga Press) is Yolanda J. Franklin’s debut poetry collection that Roxane Gay insists is a “must-must-must read.” A four-time Fulbright Scholar Award Finalist (’20, ’19, ‘18 & ‘17), Franklin is also a Cave Canem and Callaloo Fellow. Her poems appear or are set to appear in Frontier Magazine, Sugar House Review, Southern Humanities Review, and The Langston Hughes Review. Franklin’s poetry also appears in the recent anthology It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip Hop. Also, she is a two-time recipient of the J.M. Shaw Academy of American Poets Award. Franklin is a proud third generation Floridian, born in the state’s capital—Tallahassee. She received a McKnight Dissertation Fellowship and a Kingsbury Writing Award at Florida State University.

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Tanya Grae is debut author of Undoll (YesYes Books), winner of the 2019 Julie Suk Award for Best Book of Poetry by a Literary Press and a 2019 Florida Book Award. A National Poetry Series finalist, she was selected for Best New Poets 2019 and is the recipient of two Academy of American Poets Prizes and the Tennessee Williams Poetry Prize, selected by Yusef Komunyakaa. Her poems and essays have appeared widely in journals, including Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, AGNI, Prairie Schooner, and The Massachusetts Review. She lives in Tallahassee and teaches at Florida State University.

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Barbara Hamby is the author of seven books of poems, most recently Holoholo (2021), Bird Odyssey (2018) and On the Street of Divine Love: New and Selected Poems (2014), all published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, which also published Babel (2004) and All-Night Lingo Tango (2009). Her first book, Delirium, won the Vassar Miller Prize, The Kate Tufts Award, and the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award. Her second book, The Alphabet of Desire, won the New York University Press Prize for Poetry and was published in 1999 by New York University Press.

She was a 2010 Guggenheim fellow in Poetry and her book of short stories, Lester Higata’s 20th Century, won the 2010 Iowa Short Fiction Award. Her poems have appeared in many magazines, including The New Yorker, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Yale Review, and The New York Times. She has also edited an anthology of poems, Seriously Funny (Georgia, 2009), with her husband David Kirby. She teaches at Florida State University.

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Hawktail is the instrumental acoustic quartet of fiddler Brittany Haas, bassist Paul Kowert, guitarist Jordan Tice, and mandolinist Dominick Leslie. Though at first glance it looks like an acoustic superpicker side-project, their all-original music is cohesive and unique, distinguishing them as an ensemble with a sound built from the ground up. Flush with orchestral sweeps and sparse vigils, with strains of the American South and the North Atlantic, this cosmopolitan sound is not what you’d expect from a string band. They’ll be appearing at Word of South with the vocalist Aoife O’Donovan.

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Her New Knife is a shoegaze/alternative band based out of Tallahassee, Florida. Its members include guitarist and vocalist Edgar Atencio and drummer, Elijah Ford. Collaborating on music since their freshman year of college, the duo is excited to finally form a single, cohesive project influenced by artists like Sasami, Elliot Smith, Bjork, DIIV, and Alex G. Their music is filled with reverb-drenched guitars, haunting vocals, and wide open drums. Their upcoming EP titled ‘Destroza’ focuses on cutting ties and flourishing as an individual. Fans of shoegaze and indie alike are sure to find a connection with this band’s fresh and vulnerable sound.

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King Solomon Hicks grew up in Harlem “around a lot of great musicians.” That certainly shows on HARLEM, an 11-song salute to those roots — and how the 24-year-old guitarist and singer has turned them into his own fierce and distinctive style over the years. The set, produced by multiple Grammy Award winner Kirk Yano (Miles Davis, Public Enemy, Mariah Carey), showcases Hicks as a writer, player and interpreter. Hicks has built a reputation on the scene that began to spread outside of the New York area — while his home turf expanded to venues such as the Iridium, the Red Rooster, Ashford & Simpson’s Sugar Bar, Terra Blues and more. After high school Hicks began playing in Europe, opening for Jeff Beck and Ringo Starr, playing festivals in Spain and France, as well as at the Cotton Club in Tokyo, and being booked on KISS Kruise V in 2017 and on this year’s Joe Bonamassa Blues Alive at Sea Cruise. He’s shared stages with the likes of Tony Bennett, Beth Hart, George Thorogood & the Destroyers, Mavis Staples, Paul Shaffer and others.

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Mark Hinson spent nearly 35 years as a journalist and columnist for newspapers in the South. He is now a freelance writer and guest columnist for the Tallahassee Democrat, and is at work on a novel. He’ll be interviewing the writer and musician Allison Moorer at Word of South. 

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Stephen Hodges plays acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, octave mandolin, tenor banjo, and upright and electric bass in a variety of styles, including Old-Time, Celtic, Swing, Jazz, Bossa Nova, and Pop. He has played and recorded with numerous bands and musicians including Aisha Ivey, Meabh’s Mavericks, Old Tallahassee, Sligo Line, Tanager, Blue Velvet, and the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra. He has played gigs and sessions as a sideman with a number of well-known musicians, including Vassar Clements, Howdy Forrester, James Kelly, James Keane, Lisa Ornstein, and Johnny Tillotson, among others. Stephen also does sound design and musical direction for theatrical productions in Tallahassee in addition to performing, recording, and teaching, and studies jazz guitar with Perry Osborn, Corey Christiansen, and Steve Allee. Stephen will be appearing at Word of South with the musician and poet Ken Waldman.

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Eric Jacobsen is Co-Artistic Director and conductor of The Knights, and also serves as the Music Director for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and the Greater Bridgeport Symphony. A world-renowned cellist, Jacobsen founded the adventurous orchestra The Knights with his brother, violinist Colin Jacobsen, to foster the intimacy and camaraderie of chamber music on the orchestral stage. As conductor, Jacobsen has led the “consistently inventive, infectiously engaged indie ensemble” (New York Times) at Central Park’s Naumburg Orchestral Concerts, Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, (Le) Poisson Rouge, the 92nd Street Y, Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center, at major summer festivals such as Tanglewood, Ravinia, and Ojai, and on tour nationally and internationally, including at the Cologne Philharmonie, Düsseldorf Tonhalle, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Salzburg Großes Festspielhaus, Vienna Musikverein, National Gallery of Dublin, and the Dresden Musikfestspiele. Recent collaborators include violinists Itzhak Perlman and Gil Shaham, singers Dawn Upshaw, Susan Graham, and Nicholas Phan, and pianists Emanuel Ax and Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Eric will appear at Word of South with his wife, the vocalist Aoife O’Donovan.

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Jamestown Revival is an American rock duo featuring Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay. The childhood friends from Magnolia, Texas, write songs about everyday life that are a combination of harmonies which merge Southern country, Americana, and Western rock music. Their first album, Utah, was originally self-released in early 2014 and then re-released by Republic Records later the same year. iTunes named Utah Best of 2014: Singer-Songwriter Album of the Year. They followed this accomplishment with a more rock-oriented album, The Education of a Wandering Man, in 2016, which eventually led to their most recent album, San Isabel. Jamestown Revival has been featured in Rolling Stone magazine, covered in the Wall Street Journal, and has played major venues around the world.

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Rodney Jordan is a native of Memphis, Tennessee where he grew up playing the bass in church and with his high school orchestra. He later studied music with Dr. London Branch, Alvin Fielder, and Andy Hardwick at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. During his college years, Jordan joined the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra where he served as Assistant Principal Bassist. During his years in Georgia, Jordan served as a bass instructor at Darton College (part of the University System of Georgia) in Albany and at Georgia State University in Atlanta. While living in Atlanta, Jordan became one of the city’s most active jazz bassists, performing and recording with some of America’s finest jazz musicians, including Marcus Printup, Mulgrew Miller, James Williams, Milt Jackson, George Coleman, and Russell Gunn. He joined the faculty in the School of Music at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL in 2001 where he now holds a rank of Professor of Jazz Studies. Jordan teaches jazz bass, jazz combo playing, music education classes, and a jazz styles class, and is a member of the Marcus Roberts Trio. He’ll be appearing at Word of South with the trumpeter and vocalist Wendell Brunious.

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Rick Kilby grew up in Gainesville, Florida, looking for shark’s teeth, swimming in springs, and wading through swamps. A University of Florida graduate, he has earned his living as a graphic designer since 1986 and has been self-employed for over twenty years. Inspired by a trip to the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine, in 2008 he created a blog and Facebook page about the history and culture of Old Florida.

His first book, “Finding the Fountain of Youth,” was published in 2013 and won a Florida Book Award in the Visual Arts category. His latest book, “Florida’s Healing Waters,” was published last fall by the University Press of Florida and recently received the silver medal for Florida nonfiction in 2020’s Florida Book Awards.

Rick’s mission is to motivate other Floridians to appreciate and preserve the natural and historic wonders of their state.

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Bob Knight was born and raised in Miami. He moved to Tallahassee in the Fall of 1975 as a Freshman at FSU. Bob started his photography company in 1976 as a way to pay for college. Gail Knight grew up in Dayton Ohio and moved to Tallahassee in 1978 where she met Bob, and received her accounting degree in 1982. She moved to Miami to work as a CPA in 1982 before returning 18 months later to marry Bob Knight and help lead the fledgling photography company.

That photography company, Bob Knight Photo, grew to be the largest event photography company in the world. What started out as a party pic business taking pictures of sororities at FSU grew to be a $100,000,000 firm shooting more than 2.5 million graduates and 55 million images annually. Their book, Married To It, is the story of how Bob and Gail, as pioneers of the graduation photography market invented new protocols and technologies that would shape the industry in ways that are still felt today. Their heartfelt, professional and hilariously irreverent story is a must read for anyone interested in business, marriage, entrepreneurship, and balancing a healthy family life, both in business and at home.

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Dylan Leblanc is an American original. In early 2010, LeBlanc released his first album Paupers Field. The song If the Creek Don’t Rise features Emmylou Harris. In support of the album, LeBlanc toured with and opened for acts such as Lucinda Williams, the Civil Wars, George Ezra and Calexico. LeBlanc’s second album, Cast the Same Old Shadow, was released in August 2012. Following its release, LeBlanc played with Bruce Springsteen, First Aid Kit, The Drive By Truckers, and the Alabama Shakes. The Guardian review of Cast the Same Old Shadow called its songs, “as beautiful as they are bleak,” and the album, “eerie rather than unsettling”. LeBlanc’s third studio album, Cautionary Tale, was released January 15, 2016, on Single Lock Records. His fourth studio album, Renegade, was released June 7, 2019.

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They’re back! Local Forecast has officially returned to the north Florida music scene, and while the times have changed, the groove and fun that they produce hasn’t. From throwback disco to new age rap, the band does everything people say can’t be done! Returning to ring is the familiar cast: Aaron Taylor, Michael Murray, Mason Tarmey, Nolin Cividanes, and Dawson Tucker. However, while on a hiatus, the group picked up a few new goons: DJ Campbell of Little Dipper, Ed Prasse of 36 strong, Shawn Fasig of Leon Steel, and a few more surprise guests!

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Royce Lovett is a Motown Records recording artist who has toured internationally. In 2019 he was a contestant NBC’s “The Voice,” progressing to the “Knockout Round,” and is a TEDx speaker. He lives in Tallahassee.

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Demitria Lunetta is the author of many YA and MG books including: THE FADE, BAD BLOOD, and the sci-fi duology, IN THE AFTER and IN THE END. Her Hi-Lo books include OUR BROKEN EARTH and BITTER & SWEET. Her graphic novel, ANTI/HERO with co-author Kate Karyus Quinn is now available from DC. Find her at demitrialunetta.com, on twitter @DemitriaLunetta and on Facebook facebook/DemitriaLunettaAuthor.

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Mindy McGinnis is an Edgar Award-winning novelist who writes across multiple genres, including post-apocalyptic, historical, thriller, contemporary, mystery, and fantasy. While her settings may change, you can always count on Mindy’s books to deliver grit, truth, and an unflinching look at humanity and the world around us.

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Allison Moorer is a writer in every sense of the word. Since her debut in 1998, she’s released nine albums and had five singles reach the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and her songs have appeared in movies ranging from “The Rookie” to “Moonshiners” to “The Horse Whisperer.” She and her sister, Shelby Lynn, released a collaborative album in 2017 entitled “Not Dark Yet,” an album of stunning sibling harmonies. In 2019, Moorer released her memoir, Blood, and album of the same name. She’ll be appearing at Word of South on both Saturday and Sunday.

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Night Diver is a psychedelic indie band from Tallahassee, Florida. The group blends sounds from several genres such as psychedelia, jazz, rock, and pop, bringing an exciting and intricate listening experience. Members include Ed Gonzalez on lead guitar and vocals, Nick Firlej on rhythm guitar and vocals, Enzo Ampuero on Bass, Zach Killmer on Drums, and Matt Boyd on Keys.

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Grammy award-winning songwriter and musician Aoife O’Donovan is one of the most sought-after singers and songwriters of her generation. She has released 3 critically-acclaimed solo albums, is co-founder of the bands I’m With Her and Crooked Still, is the featured vocalist on The Goat Rodeo Sessions with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile, and spent a decade contributing to the radio variety shows “Live From Here” and “A Prairie Home Companion”. She’s currently working on her first new solo album in 5 years, due out later in 2021. Aoife will be appearing at Word of South with her husband, the cellist Eric Jacobsen, and the Nashville-based group Hawktail.

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Craig Pittman is a native Floridian. Born in Pensacola, he graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him “the most destructive force on campus.” Since then, he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature, winning state and national awards. He is the author of five books, including The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World’s Most Beautiful Orchid, which is the only book ever classified as “True Crime/Gardening,” and Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, which won the gold medal for Florida non-fiction from the Florida Book Awards. His fifth book, Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther, published in January 2020, has been hailed by Lauren Groff as “a witty and passionate reminder that nature is robust–it wants to live!” He lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and two children, and writes a weekly column for the Florida Phoenix and co-hosts the Welcome to Florida podcast. Craig will be appearing at Word of South with the musician Del Suggs.

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Kate Karyus Quinn is an avid reader and menthol Chapstick addict. She lives in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York, with her husband, three children, and two dogs. She is the author of several books, including: Another Little Piece, a young adult novel with HarperTeen, Anti/Hero, a middle grade graphic novel with DC comics, and Not Hungry, a book in verse that was a Junior Library Guild selection.

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Ray is an American writer whose subject is often nature. She is author of five books of literary nonfiction and a volume of eco-poetry.

She holds an MFA from the University of Montana, where she was the William Kittredge Distinguished Visiting Writer 2014. She is a 2015 inductee into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. She won the 2017 Southern Environmental Law Center Award in journalism for her piece on coal ash, published in The Bitter Southerner: “From Ashes Such as These, What Can Rise?”. In 2018 she was the Louis D. Rubin Jr. Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va. and in 2019 won the Georgia Author of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Writers Association.

She holds two honorary doctorates, from LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. and Unity College in Unity, Maine.

Her first book, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, is a memoir about growing up on a junkyard in the ruined longleaf pine ecosystem of the Southeast. This piece was a New York Times Notable Book and was chosen as the Book All Georgians Should Read. Ray’s most recent book, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food, looks at heirloom seeds. The book has been translated into Turkish and French and it has won numerous awards.

Janisse Ray was born in southern Georgia, where she returned to live, on an organic farm near the confluence of the Altamaha and Ohoopee rivers.

Janisse will be appearing at Word of South with the musician Randall Bramblett.

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Jay Revell is the author of the popular book “The Nine Virtues of Golf: Essays, Musings, and Other Contemplations on the Game”. His stories, essays, travelogues, and histories have been featured in a wide variety of popular publications including The Golfer’s Journal, McKellar Magazine, Golf.com, and Golf Advisor. Jay has also worked with a number of golf relevant brands such as MacKenzie Golf Bags and Visit Florida. He hosts a weekly golf podcast called Mid-Am Crisis and publishes regular musings on the game via his personal website JayRevell.com.

Beyond golf, Jay owns a boutique public relations firm in Tallahassee, Florida, where he specializes in storytelling for a wide range of client needs. His company, Revell Media, produces content for the golf world and beyond.

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If you are a fan of the FSU Seminoles or a resident of Florida, you know – or should know – about the writings of Tallahassee’s own Diane Roberts. Her latest book, Tribal, a comic, critical analysis of a Southern intellectual’s love of FSU football and distaste for the excesses that go with it, made several Best of Book lists in 2015. Dr. Roberts is a professor of creative writing at Florida State who received her undergraduate degree at FSU and doctorate at Oxford University in England. The author of four books, she is known for her spot-on interpretations of Southern culture and her sardonic sense of humor. She writes op-ed articles for major newspapers and has been a commentator for NPR and the BBC. Diane will be appearing at Word of South with the author and political consultant Rick Wilson.

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Songwriter, Mike Rychlik has been singing, writing, and performing in the north Florida panhandle for almost fifty years. During this time he has written and co-written several hundred songs. Since 1972 every band he has played with has performed a majority of original material. A songwriter with eclectic influences, Mike writes jazzy blues tunes, funky country pop ditties, and beautiful ballads. His lyrical approach is steeped in storytelling, history, and humor. Since the early 70s, Mike has been a fixture in Tallahassee, playing in groups such as Labamba, Flipside, Muffin Men and Harvest Gypsies.

Guitarist Warren Sutton has been a singer/songwriter in the Capital City since 1973 when he moved from Michigan to become a founding member of Labamba. When that popular jazzy pop band broke up after almost ten years, Warren became a founding member of Riverbreeze, which was hands-down the most popular jazz fusion group in north Florida for 25 years.

Over the last five years, these two old friends have been appearing as an acoustic duo, exploring new material, along with some Labamba, Flipside, and Riverbreeze staples.

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A. Savage is best known as the front man for Parquet Court, a duty split with fellow Texan Austin Brown, and their last record, Human Performance , delved into the emotional wreckage of a broken heart, to critical acclaim. But with Thawing Dawn, his first solo album which will be released on Dull Tools, it’s clear that Savage has matured. The songs on Thawing Dawn form a guided tour through the romantic environs of A. Savage’s mirrored mind. While some were written recently, other tunes were penned over the past decade. For one reason or another, these compositions didn’t land with any of Savage’s other groups, and instead are presented now as a distinct collection. Reflecting back, Savage says, “Once I realized I had a small body of work that didn’t fit anywhere else, I started to examine the commonalities: What’s the common denominator of all this and how I can expand on it?”

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Peter Schweizer is a five-time New York Times bestselling author, the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling book Secret Empires, and the President of the Government Accountability Institute. From 2008-2009 he was a consultant to the Office of Presidential Speechwriting in the White House, and served as a member of the Ultraterrorism Study Group at the U.S. government’s Sandia National Laboratory, and is a former consultant to NBC News. His books, which include Clinton Cash—The Untold Story of How Foreign Governments and Businesses made Bill and Hillary Clinton Rich and Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, have been featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes and have been translated into eleven languages. He lives in Florida with his wife Rhonda and his children.

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Castro Coleman a-k-a Mr. Sipp, “The Mississippi Blues Child” began playing the guitar at the tender age of 6. With over 125 recording credits to his name, Mr. Sipp has played on over 50 national recordings with several Grammy nominated projects. He is the 2014 International Blues Challenge Winner by way of The Vicksburg Blues Society, as well as the 2014 Gibson Best Guitarist Award Winner. The same year Castro was given the Bobby Rush Entertainer of the Year Award by the Jus’ Blues Foundation. In 2015, he won several Jackson Music Awards including International Male Blues Artist, Blues Artist of the Year, Entertainer of the year. He was the BMA Best New Artist Album winner 2016 and The Spirit of Little Walter Award 2016. The same year, Castro was the first blues artist to have his handprint inducted into the Wall of Fame in Fredrikshavn Denmark. Mr. Sipp was also cast in the recently released James Brown movie, “Get on Up”. Mr. Sipp’s favorite quote, “I’m living to love the life that I live, Music!!!!”

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Michael Farris Smith is the author of The Fighter, Desperation Road, Rivers, and The Hands of Strangers. His novels have appeared on Best of the Year lists with Esquire, Southern Living, Book Riot, and numerous others, and have been named Indie Next List, Barnes & Noble Discover, and Amazon Best of the Month selections. He has been a finalist for the Southern Book Prize, the Gold Dagger Award in the UK, and the Grand Prix des Lectrices in France, and his essays have appeared with The New York Times, Bitter Southerner, Writer’s Bone, and more. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife and two daughters. Michael will be appearing a Word of South with the musician Chuck Cannon.

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Steve Stewart and his wife, Kathy, started Tallahassee Reports in 2009 as an investigative blog. Tallahassee Reports is now a project of Red Hills Journalism Foundation, a non-profit 501c (3), with the mission of providing independent, fact-based local journalism. Steve received his B.S. degree in engineering from Clemson University in 1984 and a M.S. degree in Political Science from FSU in 1989. He went on to work with the Office of Public Counsel in 1990. While at the Office of Public Counsel, Steve participated in major electric rate cases and provided testimony on behalf of the consumers of Florida before the Florida Public Service Commission. In 1999, he started a real estate marketing company, and was the owner of a commercial marketing and printing business. Steve and Kathy were married in 2001 and have six children. He’ll be interviewing author Peter Schweizer at this year’s Word of South.

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Elizabeth Stuckey-French is the author of two novels, The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady and Mermaids on the Moon, as well as a collection of short stories, The First Paper Girl in Red Oak, Iowa. Along with Janet Burroway and Ned Stuckey-French, she was a co-author of Writing Fiction: A Guide to the Narrative Craft. Her short stories have appeared in The Normal School, Narrative Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Gettysburg Review, Southern Review, Five Points, and The O’Henry Prize Stories 2005. She was awarded a James Michener Fellowship and a Florida Book Award and has won grants from the Howard Foundation, the Indiana Arts Foundation, and the Florida Arts Foundation. She teaches fiction writing at Florida State University. Elizabeth will be appearing at Word of South with the poet Barbara Hamby.

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Del Suggs is an original. Del is a singer/songwriter and guitarist from the beaches of North Florida and is considered by many to be one of the founders and pioneers of “Trop Rock” (tropical rock) music. Del began to perform in a similar style, which he called “Saltwater Music,” drawing on his experiences growing up along the gulf coast in Panama City, Florida. Del has released five solo albums: Living Deliberately, LIVE, Floating On The Surface, Wooden Boat, and Saltwater Music. He has also been a featured artist on seven compilation albums, including Tallahassee Selects, Music From The Rascal Yard, The Prime Meridian, The Cascades Collection, and A Cascades Christmas. His continued success is a reflection of the broad appeal and timelessness of his music. Del is one of those individuals who comes on stage as a stranger, and leaves it as a friend. Del will be appearing at Word of South with the author Craig Pittman.

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Ken Waldman is an author and musician. A former college professor with an MFA in Creative Writing, he’s been a visiting writer at nearly 100 colleges and universities, a visiting artist at over 230 schools in 33 states, and has led workshops from Alaska to Maine. His nine CDs of old-time Appalachian-style string-band music include two for children. His nine books consist of seven full-length poetry collections, a memoir about his life as a touring artist, and a volume of acrostic poems for kids. As a performer, he’s played from the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage to Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage, occasionally as a soloist, more often as leader of one of his ever-changing troupes of nationally recognized musicians. Ken will be appearing at Word of South with the musician Stephen Hodges.

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It’s no secret that great art comes from the margins. From those who are either pushed to create from inner forces, or who create to show they deserve to be recognized. Los Angeles-based street singer, guitarist, and roots music revolutionary Sunny War has always been an outsider, always felt the drive to define her place in the world through music and songwriting. Her new album, Simple Syrup, out on Hen House Studios, is the culmination of years of burning curiosity as an artist, the result of many wandered paths to find some new way to speak her heart. For the first time, she’s writing songs first and crafting the guitar work second, focusing on her own poetry and trying to tell her own story. She’s an outsider artist in the truest sense, living on the margins of the establishment and fueled only by her own creative genius.

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A native of Tampa, Paul Wilborn collected multiple awards from the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors during a journalism career that included stints at the Tampa Tribune, The St. Petersburg Times and the Associated Press in Los Angeles. His plays have been produced at Stageworks, Off-Center Theater, Radio Theater Project and University of Michigan.
A pianist and singer, he has led several bands including Paul Wilborn and the Pop Tarts and Blue Roses. He produced the long-running American Songbook Series at American Stage. Cigar City: Tales From a 1980s Creative Ghetto is Wilborn’s debut short story collection. The book won the Gold Medal for Fiction in the 2019 Florida Book Awards. He recently completed How Dawn Dies, a novel set in South Florida. Wilborn is executive director of the Palladium Theater at St. Petersburg College and lives in Saint Petersburg with his wife, the film actor Eugenie Bondurant.

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Rick Wilson is a longtime Republican strategist, infamous negative ad-maker, and commentator. Since 2015, he’s been a leading conservative critic of Donald Trump. Rick’s work has been published in The Washington Post, Politico, The Hill, The London Spectator, Rolling Stone, The New York Daily News, USA Today, and others, and his book Everything Trump Touches Dies was a national bestseller. His sharp-edged and witty political insights have earned him invitations to appear on CNN, MSNBC, and he’s a frequent guest on Real Time with Bill Maher. Rick began his 30-year career in politics as part of the campaign for George H. W. Bush. He continues today providing strategic counsel to candidates, SuperPACS, state parties, the national campaign committees, and other clients nation-wide. His new book Running Against the Devil, was released in January 2020. Rick lives here in Tallahassee with his wife, too many dogs, and a nameless cat.