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APPYS finalists announced

Zoe Howard & Yellow Line up for Best Singer Song-writer
Nathan & Chesi Arnett for Best Cover Band/ Variety Act

Zoe Howard & Yellow Line up for Best Singer Song-writer Nathan & Chesi Arnett for Best Cover Band/ Variety Act

PRESTONSBURG, KY – It’s awards season across the country, and the Appalachian region of the US is no exception. On Monday, January 23rd, the finalists for all categories of the 2023 Appalachian Arts and Entertainment Awards, or The Appys, were revealed during a live stream from the stage of the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg, KY.

According to Jill Hamlin, Assistant Director of Fine Arts for Big Sandy Community and Technical College (BSCTC) and the ceremony creator, the nomination process began in the fall, and the official website was flooded with nominees from across the Appalachian region.

“This will officially be our second year since our first was virtual in 2021. We view 2021 as a ‘dress rehearsal.’ Our 2022 live event was amazing; we know that 2023 will be bigger and better. It already is in many ways. We are thrilled with the response to the nomination and voting process. We have seen nominees from all 13 states that make up the Appalachian region,” Hamlin said.

The Appalachian region runs from New York to Mississippi and encompasses multiple locations within 13 states. Those states that are considered Appalachian are: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

“For us to have nominees from each of these states is an amazing testament to the talent and diversity of the region and to the interest in a ceremony that highlights the best the entire region has to offer,” Hamlin said.

According to Hamlin, the finalists represent 11 of the 13 states, and a total of over 250,000 votes were cast to choose these finalists. The finalists now go before the panel of esteemed industry professionals. Winners will be announced at the 2023 Appy Awards.

The 2023 ceremony will be held at The Mountain Arts Center on Saturday, March 18th, with a Red-Carpet Event at 6 pm and the award ceremony beginning at 7 pm. This year’s hosts are Cincinnati TV personality Lacey Roberts and Louisville TV personality JC Phelps. Tickets an be purchased by visiting or by calling 1-888-MAC-ARTS.

The names of the finalists in each category are:


Best High School Band:
Ricky Wells: VA
James Madison High School: VA
Dobyns Bennett High School: TN

Best High School Choir:
Christian County High School: KY
Franklin County High School: KY
Juliet High School: TN

Best Music Educator:
Route 60: West Virginia
Amy Conley: KY
Clyde and Steve Porter: KY

Best Acting/Drama/Speech Educator:
The school for creative and performing arts: Ohio
Youth Performing Arts Center, KY
The Barter Theatre, VA

Best Dance Educator:
Jody Shepherd, KY
Carla Gover, KY
Morristown School of Dance Arts: TN

Best Art Educator:
Joshua Spencer: KY
The school for creative and performing arts: Ohio
Queen City Clay: Ohio

Written Works
Best Author/Writer:
Amanda Turner, Kentucky
Robyn Chapman, Ohio
Treyton Blackburn, Kentucky
Best Poet:
Crystal Wilkinson: KY
George Ecklund: KY
William S. Tribell, Tennessee

Visual Arts
Best Digital/Mixed Media Artist:
Payton Martin: KY
Cheyenne Smith: KY
Chris Burkhardt: KY

Best Graphic Designer:
Jimbo Valentine: WV
Jessalynn Bowman: KY
Frida Gonzalez: KY

Best Painting:
Curtis Eades: KY
Gabe Lewis: NY
Tiffini Scherbing: KY

Best Sculpture/Pottery:
Bob Barinski, SC
Payton Martin, KY
Link Henderson, KY

Best Tattoo Artist:
Michael Wilcox: WV
Carmelo: OH
Laura Saadati Kepper: TN

Best Photography:
Lisa Morrow: Mississippi
Larry Epling: KY
Sarah Cahill: KY

Best Cartoonist/Illustrator:
Chris Burkhardt: KY
Frida Gonzalez: KY
Kayla Freeman: KY

Best Textile:
Eugene Swafford: KY
Tiffany Miller: KY
New Frontier: KY

Best Jewelry Design:
Kathy Stout: WV
Anne Vaughan: VA
Cummings Jewelry Design: AL

Music and Film:

Best Social Media Influencer:
Taylor Hughes: Tennessee
Kentucky Music Mafia: Kentucky
Appalachian Forger (Whitney Johnson): KY

Best Original Movie/Short Film/ Documentary:
Greg Austin: The Austin City Saloon Years: Kentucky
Shaped by Fire: Kentucky
Returns: BY William S Tribell: TN

EP of the Year:
Burn BY No Deceit: KY
Nothing to Lose BY Luke Trimble: KY
The Opening Act BY Jayce Turley: KY

Album of the Year:
Appalachian Dream BY Cody Howard: KY
Let Me Know, BY Corduroy Brown, West Virginia
Branden Martin, Kentucky


Best Radio Personality:
Beer Man with 92.1 WBVX Classic Rock FM: KY
Brittany Rowe with Mountain Top Media: KY
Dennis Dillion: With WKQQ 100.1: KY

Best Podcast:
Austin Shuck: KY
Bryan Combs: KY
Steel Magnolias Podcast: TN

Best Small Live Music Venue (500 seats or fewer):
Twisted Cork: KY
Blue Grass Barrel House: KY
The Alley on Main: KY

Best Large Live Music Venue (501 seats or greater):
Paramount Arts Center: KY
Appalachian Wireless Arena : KY
Riverbend Ohio

Best Luthier:
John Ryster: KY
Panzer Guitars, OH
Eric Schaefer Guitars: PA

Best Recording Studio/Engineer/Producer:
Kyle Manner: TN
6oh6 entertainment, KY
Jonathan Goodwin, KY

Best Music Festival:
Manchester Music Festival, KY
Blue Ridge Rock Festival, VA
Carolina Country Music Fest, SC
Festival of The Red: KY

Best Television Host/Personality:
Chad Hedrick with WKYT: Lexington, KY
Julie Newman with PBS Appalachia: Abbington, VA
Lynda Fontaine with Holsten Valley Broadcasting: Kingsport ,TN


Best Americana:
Mama Said String Band, KY
Nolan Taylor, KY
Trippin Roots, KY

Best Bluegrass:
Coaltown Dixie: Kentucky
The Goodwin Brothers: Kentucky
Bobby Maynard and Family: West Virginia

Best Blues:
TeeDee Young, Kentucky
David Brown Wayward Blues, NC

Best Country:
Cody Lee Meece & The Poor Excuses: Kentucky
Kentucky Music Mafia: Kentucky
Twitty and Lynn: Tennessee
Eight Daze Sober: KY

Best Funk/R&B/Reggae:
Big Black Cadillac , KY
Joslyn & The Sweet Compression, Kentucky
Jessie Laine Powell, Kentucky

Best Religious/Worship/Spiritual:
Mel Lynn, Kentucky
My Brother’s Keeper, Ohio

Best Hip Hop/Rap:
Lil Jesse: Kentucky
Charlie Brown Superstar: WV
Bryson Tiller: Kentucky

Best Indie/Indie Folk:
Brett And Donnie, Kentucky
Corduroy Brown, West Virginia
Townsel Turner, Kentucky

Best Jazz/Latin/Big Band /World:
Big Sugg and the Jazz FUNckers: Kentucky
Jessie Laine Powell: Kentucky
Gwen Hughes and the Retro Kats: GA
One Leg Up: NC

Best Metal/Punk:
What Drives the Weak, Kentucky
Mirrored Image, Kentucky

Best Original Song:
My Brother’s Keeper: Ohio
Cody Lee Meece: Kentucky
Brando Vanschoyck: Kentucky

Best Pop:
Wicked Peace, Kentucky
Hailey Newman, Kentucky

Best Rock:
The Moon Dogs: Kentucky
Mel Lynn: Kentucky
Blacktop Rodeo: KY

Best Singer Song-Writer:
Zoe Howard & Yellow Line, Kentucky
Nolan Taylor, Ohio
Brando Vanschoyck, Kentucky


Best Bassist:
Trevor Litteral, KY
Mike Anglin, KY
Oliver Sayani, TN

Best Cover Band/ Variety Act:
Eight Daze Sober: KY
The Allman Butter Band, KY
Nathan and Chesi
Arnett: KY

Best Drummer/ Percussionist:
Jeremy “Wood” Roberts: WV
Honey: KY
Jeremy Toler: KY

Best Guitarist:
David Prince: KY
Oliver Sayani: TN
Jonathan Goodwin: KY

Best Strings (Non-guitar/bass):
Titus Luckhaupt: Ohio
Jr. Williams: KY
Corbin Bentley: KY

Best Female Vocalist (Any style):
Bek Smallwood:KY
Taylor Hughes: TN
Hailey Newman: KY

Best Male Vocalist (Any style):
Brando Vanschoych: KY
Nolan Taylor: KY
Cody Lee Meece: KY
Landau Eugene Murphy Jr: WV

Best Wind and Brass
Trent Litteral: KY
Matthew Polashek: KY
Philip Summers: WV

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