Winners of the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2018


Valdosta, GA, July 2, 2017 — In a good time with good food and good music, at the Salty Snapper in Valdosta, Saturday afternoon, June 23, 2018, three judges from Georgia and Florida deliberated a long time after six songwriters from Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida sang, and selected winners of the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2018.

The WWALS Songwriting Contest Committee met many times to plan for the first annual contest. The purpose of the contest was to raise awareness of the WWALS watershed and its accomplishments. Will Eason of the Salty Snapper welcomed us, WWALS Ambassador Dave Hetzel spoke about the origins of WWALS, Board member Bret Wagenhorst spoke about Outings, Committee Chair Eileen Box spoke about the Committee, and WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman was the M.C.

Winners and Judges (Sharon Yeago)
Winners and Judges (Sharon Yeago), left to right: Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, WWALS E.D. and contest M.C. Gretchen Quarterman, ? (JJ), ? (JJ), Jay Jourden (JJ), Judge J.J. Rolle, Emmett Carlisle, Laura D’Alisera, Mike Tappan, Judge Cindy Bear, Dave Pharr, ? Tom Shed (JJ), Don Austin (JJ), Hollin Gammage, and the small child is next year’s contestant (JJ marks members of Jay Jourden’s band).

The finalists, who played in random order, selected by drawing straws, with sound by Will Eason and other help by Scotti Jay, were: Emmett Carlisle, Gainesville, FL, Laura D’Alisera, Jacksonville, FL, Hollin Gammage, McMinnville, TN, Jade’an Jourden, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, David Pharr, Live Oak, FL, Mike Tappan, Valdosta, GA.

Dave Pharr
Dave Pharr (Bret Wagenhorst)

Here is the WWALS video of Dave Pharr singing “Care for the Waters,” including “And you may cross my bridges, But you’ll never get over me.”

The performances of all six finalists were excellent, making it difficult for the judges: Dr. Dan Crews, Live Oak, FL, J.J. Rolle, Valdosta, GA, and Cindy Bear, Jacksonville, FL.

Cindy Bear, J.J. Rolle, Dan Crews
Judges: Cindy Bear, J.J. Rolle, Dan Crews (John S. Quarterman)

While the judges deliberated for quite a long time, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman spoke at length about WWALS advocacy: pipelines, phosphate mines, Floridians Against Fracking, sewage spills, and water quality monitoring.

The judges finished deliberating with these winners:

  • Laura D’Alisera, Jacksonville, FL, $300 First Prize, for “The Waters Will Come,” as well as $50 for best from outside the Suwannee River Basin, and best traditional folk.

    Laura D'Alisera (Sara Jay)
    Laura D’Alisera (Sara Jay)

    Here is the WWALS video of Laura D’Alisera playing her winning song, “The Waters Will Come.”

  • Mike Tappan, Valdosta, GA, $50 for best from inside the Basin and best Blues for “Capt. Curries Blues.”

    Mike Tappan
    Mike Tappan (Bret Wagenhorst)

    Here is WWALS video of Mike Tappan of Valdosta, GA, playing “Capt. Curries Blues.” and winning best Blues genera, plus $50 for best from inside the Basin.

  • Emmett Carlisle, Gainesville, FL, best Florida Folk for “Suwannee Harmony.”

    Emmett Carlisle
    Emmett Carlisle (Bret Wagenhorst)

    Here is the WWALS video of Emmett Carlisle singing “Suwannee Harmony.” “You sing it high; I’ll sing it low.”

  • Hollin Gammage, McMinnville, TN, best Americana for “Little River.”

    Hollin Gammage
    Hollin Gammage (Bret Wagenhorst)

    Here’s the the WWALS video of Hollin Gammage singing “Little River”. I think we’ve all been “Half crazy til I hit the water.”

  • Jay Jourden, Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, best Newgrass, Bluegrass, and Americana for “Save Our Suwannee.”

    Jay Jourden
    Jay Jourden (Bret Wagenhorst)

    Here is the WWALS video of Jay Jourden and band singing “Save Our Suwannee,” which says:

    “There’s no time to waste and wonder…. if somehow it’s all going to change….
    That bridge the Suwannee flows under….might not ever sing her song again…..”

    Save our Suwannee…. save our creeks…. save our lakes, our springs, and seeps…. save our waters…. and keep em free….
    Save our Suwannee for you and me..!!..

Each finalist and each judge also got a WWALS membership for a year. WWALS will post video soon of each finalist’s performance.

Thanks to Will Eason of the Salty Snapper for a fine venue. Many thanks to the Committee: Scotti Jay, Sara Jay, Steve Miller, John S. Quarterman, Teri LaBrecque, Anna White Hodges, and Eileen Box, chair, and to all who helped, especially to Gretchen Quarterman for being M.C. and for the fundraisers, and to Sharon Yeago, Bret Wagenhorst, Sara Jay, and John S. Quarterman for the pictures.

About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the Member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.

Eileen Box
WWALS Songwriting Contest Committee Chair

John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper
WWALS Watershed Coalition
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632


 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!