Adam Hambrick of Conway walked away the grand prize winner of the Alchemy Songwriting Competition Saturday night after an evening of performances from 10 finalists, weeded from hundreds of contest entries. Hambrick's song "I Will Never" was inspired by divorce and dedicated to his wife Merritt to "re-vow" his feelings for her and promise never to go down that road.
It was the first annual competition of Blackbird Academy of the Arts, a nonprofit arts education program based in Conway. Entries from around the world were scrutinized by judges Kris Allen, Conway native and 2009 American Idol winner; David Hodges, a Little Rock native who's earned Grammys for his work with Evanescence and Kelly Clarkson, and Andy Davis, a former marketing exec who is involved with several music-centered nonprofits.
Runners up were listed by age group category. Bettina and Philippa Cassar came all the way from Bidnija, Malta, and won in the youth category (13-17), while the New York alternative rock band Days of Old (members Joel Dibble, Alex Dibble, Jon Osterdahl, Justin Van Sickle) took the 18 and older prize.
Various genre winners were announced Saturday night between performances.
Hambrick's prize was an expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles to record the winning song in a studio with producers Ryan Peterson and Nolan Sipe. Proceeds from the competition, including entry fees, sponsorships and showcase tickets, will benefit Blackbird Academy, an agency that offers affordable music programs and scholarships to children who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity.
Hubert Sumlin, the legendary blues guitarist who grew up in Hughes (St. Francis County) and provided spooky, scorching accompaniment to Howlin' Wolf, died Sunday of heart failure. He was 80.
His last performance was at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in October.
According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, Sumlin lost his two front teeth in Little Rock in the 1950s, when an angry Wolf shoved him down a hill for missing a gig.
Consistently excellent Stuttgart rapper Arkansas Bo has a new album out, "Natural State of Mind." You can stream it and buy it at Bandcamp.
The first track is a remix of a song that Bo's been floating around for a while, "The Dream," where Bo impersonates just about every big-name Southern rapper around. We've called him the Rich Little of Southern rap. There's also "Another Dream," where the rapper mimics East Coast, doing Jay-Z, Cam'ron, Jim Jones, Method Man, Beanie Siegel and DMX.