Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest Winners Announced

Pictured: Winners: Emmett Carlisle, Best Outside Song; Tracy Horenbein, Best American; David Rodock, first prize and best song from Inside; Kyle Chamberlain, Best Folk, Kevin Stephenson, Best Country

HAHIRA – The winners of the fifth annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest have been announced at the WWALS fundraiser.


Everyone had a great time, it was a successful fundraiser for WWALS, and here are the winners of the fifth annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

The winners were chosen by judges JJ Rolle, Kenji Bolden and Joe Smothers.

MC Chuck Roberts announced them in this order, as Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman presented them with their awards:

Kevin Stephenson of Valdosta, Georgia won a plaque for Best Country Song for “It Don’t Get No Better Than This-The Alapaha.” This is the first year that Kevin has taken part in the competition.

Tracy Horenbein of Tallahassee, Florida won a Best Americana plaque for “Wild and Free.” Tracy competed for the first time this year.

Emmett Carlisle won $50 and a plaque for Best Song from Outside the Suwannee River Basin with “Suwannee River Nights.” Emmett also won a plaque for Florida’s Best Folk in 2018.

Kyle Chamberlain of Lake Park, Georgia won the plaque for Best Folk Song “Suwannee River and Me”. Kyle also won a plaque for Best Funk Song of 2019.

David Rodock of Adel, Georgia won $50 for Best Song from the Interior of the Suwannee River Basin and $300 first prize with “Take Me to the Suwannee”. Last year, David won the plaque for best folk song. He claims this year’s winning song was “twenty minutes and a pot of coffee on a Sunday morning effort”. Imagine if it applies next year!

The videos of the winners will appear soon:–songwriting/

Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson drew the winning raffle ticket for the Vibe Yellowfin 120 kayak, donated by Georgia Beer Co., and valued at over $1,000.

The kayak winner is: Maya Vallotton.

Maya Vallotton was a $500 sponsor of the contest. Thanks to her and all the other sponsors: Landis International, Blazin’ Paddles & Kayak Club of Valdosta, Imperial Auto Sales, Azalea City Music Academy, Jan Krysa, Laura D’Alisera, Christina Barnes, Gretchen Quarterman and eight others who have bought $100 raffle tickets at the festival, including MC Chuck Roberts, Sementha Matthews, Can Leonard bought two, Bobby McKenzie, Steve Miller, Amy Meyers and Larry Bunkley.

Steve Miller was the high bidder in the silent auction on two non-store items: a food basket from Okra Paradise Farms and a painting by Julie Bowland, “Tupelo Glow,” oil on canvas, 18″x24″. The painting is described by the artist as follows: “A Tupelo tree illuminated by the late afternoon sun at the confluence of the Little and Withlacoochee rivers. Painted from my canoe.

High bid not met for Ethan Abbott’s painting; apparently people did not realize this opportunity. Maybe he’ll let us auction it off at a later event.

Wrapping up the festival, Organizing Committee Chair Angela Duncan thanked MC Chuck Roberts, all the volunteers and WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman for keeping WWALS running.

Angela thanked headliners Sweet William Billy Ennis of Palatka, Florida (last year’s winner) and Dirty Bird and the Flu of Valdosta, Georgia.

She thanked committee members Josh Duncan, Jesse Cole, Scotti Jay, Sara Jay, Jen Anders, Sommer Anders and Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, whom she called a pillar of the community.

Thank you all, especially the musicians, for coming! You support the work of WWALS for safe, clean and usable water in the 10,000 square miles of the Suwannee River basin and estuary in Florida and Georgia.

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