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Help Choose the ‘Song of Arkansas’ Contest Winner [VIDEO]

Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

Now that all of the songs have been submitted for the “Song of Arkansas Contest” from the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism. Judges have chosen the final 7 songs and it’s up to you to pick the winner. (Only one song mentions Texarkana by name, so it gets our vote!)

This competition has given artists the chance to come up with an original song about Arkansas. More than 200 entries were submitted through YouTube and Soundcloud. The celebrity judges, including Rock ‘N’ Roll Pioneer Sonny Burgess, Award Winning director Jason Moore, member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefers Band Mike Utley, and Broadway Performer Lawrence Hamilton has cut the entries to the final seven. The winner will perform the new song of Arkansas at The Arkansas State Governor’s Conference in Roger’s Arkansas Monday March 10, 2014.

Here are the finalists, and their bios provided by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism in no particular order, because you are voting for the winner.

First, because it is the only one that mentions Texarkana, is “Natural State of Mind” by Pamela K. Ward.

Pamela K. Ward / Arkansas Parks & Tourism

“Pamela’s family has had a farm in McRae for over a hundred years.  Her grandfather was involved with the Sugarloaf Opry, and she first took the stage to sing at the age of two.  She decided to take up the saxophone after seeing a performance at the Arkansas State Fair when she was seven.  Growing up, she spent some weekends performing at the Ozark Folk Center and others on Beale Street in Memphis – and she’s tackled nearly every genre.  Today, she lives and works in Nashville, TN.”

Next is “A.R.K.A.N.S.A.S. Get There From Here” from Barrett Baber with Kenny Lamb.

Barrett Barber / Arkansas Parks & Tourism

“The son of a Baptist preacher, Barrett grew up with music in the church, growing into choral music and eventually heading to Ouachita Baptist University, where he learned songwriting and how to play the guitar.  He left OBU to head to Nashville to apprentice as a songwriter, then returned to Arkansas to complete his education at the University of Central Arkansas, where he met his wife.  After working in advertising in Little Rock and Fayetteville, Barrett turned to a new pursuit, teaching debate and forensics to students at Fayetteville High School, two years ago.”

Next is “Come Home to Arkansas” from Chana Caylor.

Chana Caylor / Arkansas Parks & Tourism

“The spa director who works in Mount Ida today started out playing piano when she was just eight years old – and by the age of twelve was singing and playing piano in church.  A lifelong Hot Springs native, Chana has played in piano bars and entertainment venues both inside and outside the Spa City.  The married mother of three has played and sang everything from Billie Holliday to Whitney Houston to Patsy Cline.  She’s working on her first original album.”

Then we have “Arkansas Y’all” from Blaine Howard.

Blaine Howard / Arkansas Parks & Tourism

“Blane’s family moved to Hot Springs when he was two.  He grew up singing and developed a deep love of songwriting.  After high school he left for Nashville to get his degree in music from Bellmont College.  Today he’s a full time musician with one EP already released, “‘Bout Time.”  He heard about the Song of Arkansas contest from his mom when he came home for the holidays.”

Next up is “Here in Arkansas” from Jeremy Huddleston.

Jeremy Huddleston / Arkansas Parks & Tourism

“Jeremy lived his entire life in Russellville until heading to southern California last June to plant a new church with three other families.  Before that, he was on staff at the Journey Church in Russellville for nine years and the drummer for local Christian act Nick and Sam.  Jeremy and his two sons love hiking Petit Jean Mountain, Mount Nebo, Mount Magazine and all around the River Valley.  While the ocean views are pleasant in California, he misses the woods and trails of Arkansas.”

Next we have “Right Here in Arkansas” from Matt Noble.

Matt Knoble / Arkansas Parks & Tourism

“Matt has always been around music – growing up in Haskell (near Benton) and playing trumpet in the band at Harmony Grove High School.  After four years in the University of Arkansas Razorback Band – where he met his wife – the couple relocated to the Bentonville area.  Today, Matt teaches 5th grade Social Studies during the day and guitar in the worship ministry at church.”

Finally, the last finalist is another song titled “Here in Arkansas” this one is from Candy Lee.

Candy Lee / Arkansas Parks & Tourism

“Candy graduated from Florida Girls State University and moved to Arkansas after friends in Fayetteville sent her photographs of the Ozarks.  She fell in love with the beauty of The Natural State and relocated.  The waitress and folk jazz artist has been involved with chorus throughout her life – and as an adult, she learned how to play the guitar.  She loves riding her bike on paths throughout the Razorback Greenway and visiting Devil’s Den State Park.  Her first album, The Gate, was released in 2010; she’s currently recording her second.”

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE 'SONG OF ARKANSAS' HERE!

Voting is open to the public until noon February 24, and the winner will be announced Monday March 3rd, and the winning artist will perform their song at the 40th Annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism Monday March 10. The winner will also receive a recording session and video of their song plus $2000.

(Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism)

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