Although all of the Absolute Best of Tulsa Music Awards hold a certain prestige and allure, recognizing our local artists in every category and segment from the music scene, there are a couple that truly stand out: Artist of the Year and Band of the Year. You, our loyal readers picked the nominees and have likewise picked the winner.
Before we get to the awards ceremony, though, we give you an overview of the cream of our musical crop: Those who stand out from the crowd in every genre and deserve recognition as Artist of the Year.
Olivia Duhon: Ms. Duhon has emerged as a surprise to many in Tulsa, but this TU alum has a sweet voice and engaging stage presence that mesmerizes the audience, whether in a small club or at the Jazz Depot. If you thought the local jazz scene was in the doldrums, look no further than this young lady as proof that jazz and siren songs are alive and well in Green Country.
Eric Himan: Truly one of Tulsa's most versatile pop vocalists, Eric Himan isn't one to sit for long in any one place. He's a busy man, splitting his time between his pop/rock band Eric and the Adams, building upon his decade-long career as a solo artist and even joining forces with select Congress of a Crow alumni to form a blazing new hard rock act, Good Villains. It's no wonder that Himan is nominated here and has to be considered a serious contender as he continues to be one of Tulsa's favorite vocalists.
Fiawna Forte: We'd love to say we're surprised to see Ms. Forte's name pop up in this category, but we're not. In fact, we saw this coming in the distance featuring her on our cover more than a year ago. (Check out "Hear Me Roar" from the June 25-July 1, 2009 issue at urbantulsa.com.)She delivers her introspective indie-rock with a classic and timeless perspective and authority, and her voice and stage presence captivate everyone -- no matter the age -- in the audience. Whether playing a now infrequent solo acoustic gig, performing with her band or making a special appearance with Native Lights, you can't keep your eyes (and ears) from the young indie-rock gal who will undoubtedly be a player on our local scene for years to come.
Ben Kilgore: Even we were initially surprised to see Ben Kilgore show up on the ballot after a relatively quiet year, but his fans know where to find him. The former Hero Factor vocalist has kept a low profile this year with only a smattering of club shows. But he's kept himself busy not just as worship leader at the Sunday evening service at Asbury's Venue 68 but also writing new material, laying down tracks for a new disc in Nashville and flying to the west coast to work with another high-profile producer. Yes, Ben Kilgore is still active on the music scene as his nomination in this and "Best Male Vocalist" categories bear witness. By this time next year, you won't be wondering how he got here -- you'll only be wondering how you missed him for so long.
Brandon Clark: When it comes to the Artist of the Year category, it's hard to deny a nod to the man who has played between 250 and 315 shows a year for the past four years. Whether rocking out with his band, settling in at Mercury Lounge for a standing Sunday night solo acoustic gig or playing nearly every stage in town by himself, with a band or with long-time friend, Travis Kidd, Brandon Clark is a staple of Tulsa's local music scene. With new songs in the pipeline and a full schedule, Tulsa's hard-working songsmith has earned his spot among Tulsa's elite.
There you have it -- the cream of the crop. Regardless of the winner, each and every artist is one we're proud to call one of Tulsa's own, but only one of them can walk away with the award at the end of the evening. So, now ... we wait.
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