Author Author Musician Musician

2015 Artists

Check out all of the amazing artists that performed at our 2015 festival!

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Special pre-festival performance: The Avett Brothers

As an American band from Concord, North Carolina, The Avett Brothers combine bluegrass, country, folk, rock, indie, and honky tonk to produce a unique sound that has been attracting fans since 2000. Don’t miss your chance to see this dynamic group perform in a special pre-festival concert on April 10. Band members include brothers Scott and Seth Avett, as well as Bob Crawford, Joe Kwon, Mike Marsh, Tania Elizabeth and Paul Defiglia. Click here to purchase tickets.

Paul Beatty

Paul Beatty is the author of three novels—Slumberland, Tuff, and The White Boy Shuffle—and two books of poetry: Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He is the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He lives in New York City.

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Bobby Bowden

Bobby Bowden is known as much for his affable charm as he is for his championship teams. Having coached young men for seven decades, he is the winningest coach in NCAA Division 1 football history. Bowden guided Florida State University to more than 300 victories, two national championships, 12 Atlantic Coast Conference titles, finishing in the top five in the country in 14 straight seasons, and he also led the FSU Seminoles to bowl games in 28 consecutive seasons during his 34-year tenure. The patriarch of college football’s most famous coaching family, Bowden remains heavily involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, annually awarding The National Bobby Bowden Award to a student athlete for achievement on and off the field.

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Eden Brent

Nicknamed "Little Boogaloo" by her Mississippi Delta mentor Boogaloo Ames, with whom she apprenticed for 16 years, Eden Brent is much more than her signature boogie and blues piano riffs. She has proven to be a celebrated songwriter and dynamic performer, earning eleven Blues Music Award nominations since 2009 and winning three of those awards. Her latest album, Jigsaw Heart (2014 Yellow Dog Records) is currently nominated for Acoustic Album of the Year in this year's Blues Music Awards and Eden is nominated for Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year.


Robert Olen Butler

Robert Olen Butler has published fifteen novels and six volumes of short fiction, one of which, A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He has also published a volume of his lectures on the creative process, From Where You Dream. He was the 2013 recipient of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. Among his many other accolades are the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction, and two National Magazine Awards in Fiction. He is a Francis Eppes Distinguished Professor Florida State University, where he teaches creative writing.

Kerry O'Malley Cerra

Children's Literature
Bronze Medal
Just A Drop of Water (Sky Pony Press) by Kerry O'Malley Cerra

Kerry O’Malley Cerra was born in New Jersey but moved to Florida at the age of two. She resided in Orlando until she left for college at the University of South Florida in Tampa. After graduating with a Social Science Education degree, she moved with her fiancé to Coral Springs, Florida where she taught high school social studies for several years. Born with a hearing loss, Kerry eventually left teaching as her disability progressed—writing historical fiction is her way of staying in the classroom. Passionate about promoting peace—which she fully believes begins with children—her debut novel, Just a Drop of Water, was inspired by a deeply personal reaction to the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The book has been named to VOYA’s Top Shelf for Middle School Readers’ 2014 list and received favorable reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, and VOYA. Married to her college sweetheart, she has three awesome kids…and three poorly behaved dogs.

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Susan Cerulean

Susan Cerulean celebrates the ancient, present-time and future shorelines of north Florida in her new memoir, Coming to Pass: Florida’s Coastal Islands in a Gulf of Change. Her many books and collaborative anthologies include Tracking Desire: A Journey after Swallow-tailed Kites, UnspOILed: Writers Speak for Florida’s Coast; Between Two Rivers: Stories from the Red Hills to the Gulf; The Book of the Everglades; and The Wild Heart of Florida. Cerulean lives in Tallahassee, Florida, a long twenty miles from the nearest salt water.

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Bruce Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn, the award–winning songwriter and pioneering guitarist — whose life and music has been shaped by politics, protest, romance and spiritual discovery — has released 31 albums spanning five decades. In addition to selling over 7 million records, Bruce has just completed a new memoir, Rumours of Glory, which he will read from at Word of South.

As a long–time activist, Cockburn has spoken out on a range of issues: native rights, land mines, human rights atrocities in war‐torn countries, Third World debt, ecological devastation and corporate crime. As he outlines in Rumours Of Glory, he believes that we can and should be dedicated to our shared humanity, to saving ourselves, each other and this earth — we just need to find the will.

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The Currys

The Currys have developed their brand of homegrown, harmony-rich Americana through summers of writing and performing on the Florida Gulf Coast. Brothers Jimmy and Tommy Curry and cousin Galen Curry began with acoustic performances in local restaurants and oyster bars, but over time the trio has gained a regional following, performing regularly at festivals and venues around the Southeast. In August of 2012, The Currys headlined a tour across Ireland which was the subject of a PBS documentary. The following year the three Currys teamed up with bassist Matt Kauper and drummer Johnny Humphreys to track their debut record, financing the process with a successful Kickstarter campaign. Released in the spring of 2014, the resulting album Follow is a testament to the countless hours spent in musical symbiosis, shaping the words and melodies of three distinct singer/songwriters into one cohesive voice.

Viviana Díaz Balsera

Florida Non-Fiction
Gold Medal
La Florida: Five Hundred Years of Hispanic Presence (University Press of Florida) edited by Viviana Díaz Balsera and Rachel A. May

Viviana Díaz Balsera was born in Cuba and raised in Puerto Rico. She received her Ph.D fromYale University and is currently Professor of Spanish at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. She specializes in Hispanic Early Modern Studies and is the author of The Pyramid Under the Cross:Franciscan Discourses of Evangelization in Sixteenth-Century Mexico and Calderón y las quimeras de la Culpa, a book about ethics, poetics and religion in seventeenth-century Spain.In her teaching and her academic writing, Díaz Balsera strives to think about the past by listening closely to what it tells us about our present.

Dog House Band

The Dog House Band is a group of writer-musicians associated with the Bennington Writing Seminars, the low-residency MFA program at Vermont’s Bennington College. In the mid-2000s, faculty members Sven Birkerts and David Gates started getting together to swap songs at the Dog House—the only petfriendly house on the Bennington campus—and eventually attracted other faculty, students, staff and visitors to rehearse and perform at the twice-a-year residencies. From a couple of guys with acoustic uitars, the Dog House Band has evolved into a full-on electric ensemble playing an amalgam of country, soul, blues and rock and roll. Lee Johnson, bass, has a B.A. from Bennington and an MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia. His work has appeared in The Oxford American, the Mississippi Review, Meridian, Salamander, Appalachian Heritage and The Common, His recently completed first novel Nitro Mountain will be published by Knopf in 2016. He lives in North Bennington, Vt.

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Sheila E.

One of life’s constants for Sheila E. comes down to a simple phrase: follow the beat. And her impeccable inner rhythm is the pulse behind a trailblazing career that still knows no bounds.

World-class drummer and percussionist whose credits read like chapters in a music history book: Ringo Starr. Marvin Gaye, Prince, Beyoncé, Herbie Hancock, Diana Ross, Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan and George Duke. Grammy Award-nominated singer/songwriter behind the seminal hits “The Glamorous Life” and “A Love Bizarre.” Sheila is a fearless multi-instrumentalist, as well as an Actress, Mentor, and Philanthropist.

These career checkpoints all converge in 2014 with two new Sheila E. projects. Coming soon is the release of her first album in 13 years, the aptly titled "Icon" (Stilettoflats Music, March 25, 2014). Leading the charge is first single, “Mona Lisa.” Then the indefatigable multi-talent will add author to her list of accomplishments with Simon & Schuster’s September publication of her autobiography, “The Beat Of My Own Drum.”


FAMU Choral Society Chorale, Led by Dr. Mark Butler

The Internationally acclaimed Florida A&M University Concert Choir. For nearly sixty years the FAMU Concert Choir has maintained a standard of choral excellence. The University Choir performs a diverse repertoire that spans the genres of classical, jazz, contemporary, spiritual, gospel, and other multicultural styles. The Choir’s goal is to promote and cultivate the understanding of choral music and performance as an imperative medium of artistic value and musical expression.

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Velma Frye

Walk down a white sandy beach on an island in the Gulf of Mexico and you might see Velma Frye there singing songs about the stars and the moon and the turtles. Velma’s music awakens the heart to a sense of place and community. In addition to the Florida Gulf coast, she has played piano and sung all over the US, including nine visits to Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion,” and has performed in Russia and Europe. Her music, heard on six solo CDs, is sung in university and community choirs. Velma teaches piano, voice, and song-writing to 90 music students every week. She lives in Tallahassee and offers weekend retreats in other locations for the contemplative and exuberant use of the voice.


Mary Gaitskill

Mary Gaitskill is the author of the novels “Two Girls, Fat and Thin,” “Veronica.” She has also written three story collections “Bad Behavior,” “Because They Wanted To,” and “Don't Cry.” Her stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Granta, Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. She has taught writing and literature on the graduate and undergraduate level since 1993, most recently at Claremont McKenna College. She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2004 and a Cullman Fellowship in 2010. Her new novel “The Mare” will be published in November of this year.

David Gates

David Gates is the author of the novels Jernigan and Preston Falls, and The Wonders of the Invisible World, a collection of stories. A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me, a novella and eleven stories, will appear in June 2015. He teaches at the Bennington Writing Seminars and the University of Montana.

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In understanding GIVERS, it’s helpful to think of a constellation, a configuration of points of brightness that when placed in succession, led to the Lafayette, Louisiana-based quintet’s brilliant debut. The metaphor proves particularly useful given the name of their album – In Light (Glassnote Entertainment Group) is a collection filled with joy and brightness, buoyed by constantly evolving rhythms, warmed by spangling guitars, and illuminated by the melodic altruism that is the band’s mission statement.

“Every dot is just as important as another. All these dots are so crucial,” says Guarisco. “One without the other – it wouldn’t be the constellation that is GIVERS.”

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Peter Guralnick

Peter Guralnick has been called "a national resource" by critic Nat Hentoff for work that has argued passionately and persuasively for the vitality of this country's intertwined black and white musical traditions. His books include the prize-winning two-volume biography of Elvis Presley, Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love. He teaches Creative Writing at Vanderbilt, where he is Writer in Residence, and is a recent inductee in the Blues Hall of Fame.

Val Haynes

Val Haynes received her MFA in fiction from Bennington in 2013. She’s been a singer, an actress, a bookie and a dishwasher. She’s released two CDs, Lonesome Val and NYC, the latter produced by Suzzy Roche. Her story “Shark Skin,” published in Free State Review, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has lived in New York City, Costa Rica, the Caribbean and a Buick, and now lives in Troy, N.Y.


Tony Hale

From Buster Bluth on Arrested Development to his Emmy Award-winning role as Gary Walsh on HBO’s Veep, Tony’s journey as an actor has taught him many lessons—the most important being it’s not always about the Next Big Thing, it’s about right now. He brings this lesson to life through the eyes of Archibald in his first children’s book.

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Michael Hearst

Michael Hearst is a writer, composer and multi-instrumentalist whose work spans from composing movie soundtracks to literary collaborations. Hearst is a founding member of the band One Ring Zero. Hearst has given lectures, workshops and performances at various venues around the world. He has made TV appearances on shows such as NPR's Fresh Air, A+E's Breakfast with the Arts, and NBC's The Today Show.

Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson has a B.A. from Bennington and an MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia. His work has appeared in The Oxford American, the Mississippi Review, Meridian, Salamander, Appalachian Heritage and The Common, and he has recently completed his first novel, Nitro Mountain. He lives in North Bennington, Vt.

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Ramona King, Griot/Storyteller & Zack Freeman, Beatbox Artist

Collaborating their own unique form of spoken word and music performance.
Ramona King has been performing nationally for over 25 years. She conducts workshops and gives presentations on embracing change and challenges for empowered living. She performs folklore and original stories in movement, dance and song, creating an atmosphere of playful wisdom which in turn stimulates imagination, literary skills and logic.

Zack Freeman is an accomplished beatboxer who merges hip-hop, folk, a cappella and electronica. He records his voice on an electronic device, creating drum, bass and harmony tracks. He then sings live over the sounds. He prefers performing at elementary schools to the club circuit, spreading a message of peace, community and social justice.

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Madeleine Kuderick

Young Adult Literature
Gold Medal
Kiss of Broken Glass (HarperTeen) by Madeleine Kuderick

Madeleine Kuderick grew up in Oak Park, Illinois, a community with rich literary tradition, where she was editor-in-chief of the same high school newspaper that Ernest Hemingway wrote for as a teen. She studied journalism at Indiana University before moving to Florida and completing her bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida and MBA at Saint Leo University. Today, she lives in Palm Harbor on Florida’s beautiful gulf coast. Madeleine is published in anthologies and magazines and speaks at reading conferences, literature festivals, and schools across the country. She enjoys writing about underdogs and giving a voice to those who are struggling to be heard. Kiss of Broken Glass is her debut novel and a YALSA 2015 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.

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Ward Larsen

Popular Fiction
Silver Medal
Assassin’s Game (Forge Books) by Ward Larsen

Ward Larsen was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida. He attended the University of Central Florida, where he played soccer, and graduated in 1983 with a pre-law degree. He joined the Air Force, and after pilot training was assigned to the 95th Fighter Interceptor Training Squadron at Tyndall AFB, FL. He later joined the 75th Fighter Squadron, England AFB, LA, part of the 23rd Fighter Wing Flying Tigers of WWII fame. He travelled extensively overseas, and flew twenty-two combat missions during Operation Desert Storm, earning two air medals. He is today an airline captain, flying both international and domestic routes, and has over 20,000 hours of flight time in dozens of aircraft types. He has also served as a federal law enforcement officer. A two-time winner of the Florida Book Award, he has also been shortlisted for the Macavity and Benjamin Franklin Awards, and is a contributor to works nominated for the Edgar and Thriller Awards. His first book, The Perfect Assassin, is in pre-production as a major motion picture with Amber Entertainment and SND/M6 Films. An avid scuba diver, he lives with his family in Florida.

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In a world where instant gratification is the norm, patience has become a rare commodity. But for Zoë Randell and Steve Hassett, who make up indie-folk duo Luluc (pronounced Loo-LUKE), letting things unfold in due time not only defines their career trajectory, it also works as a pretty good description of their approach to making music. Music that Sub Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman describes as "bracing, subtle, tender and magnificent".

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Lunch Money

Bringing indie rock to family audiences, Lunch Money ignites the pleasures of childhood through music. Their energetic sound revives blowing bubbles, pushing buttons and getting dizzy. Their name is inspired by the first taste of childhood independence and power. Lunch Money has played venues and festivals around the United States, including World Cafe Live, Symphony Space, Town Hall Seattle, The Orlando Repertory Theatre, Austin City Limits Festival and Lollapalooza.

Clare Lynch

Clare Lynch was born in County Cavan but is a long time resident of Sligo, Ireland (Tallahassee's sister city). She is a writer with a sharp eye. These beautifully observed stories, in the ordinariness of their subject matter, give a warm and telling insight into the human condition. She can create a colorful landscape in the most unlikely places, like a kitchen dresser or a pair of shoes, and reveal an imagination full of warmth and humanity.

She has worked in the arts sector for over 20 years, specializing in projects with people with disabilities and older people. Clare has recorded her work for National Council of the Blind, Ireland and her work has also frequently featured on RTE national radio.

Rachel A. May

Florida Non-Fiction
Gold Medal
La Florida: Five Hundred Years of Hispanic Presence (University Press of Florida) edited by Viviana Díaz Balsera and Rachel A. May

Rachel A. May is the Director of the Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean (ISLAC) at the University of South Florida. Her previous work has concerned the history of political violence and social movements in Central America and the Southern Cone. She is currently working on a book about armed revolutionary movements in the Caribbean Basin.

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Marcus Roberts Trio

Founded in 1995, Marcus Roberts Trio is known around the world for their signature virtuosic trio style, 15 years later. They have an entirely new approach to jazz trio performance. Although the piano is typically the focus of most jazz trios, in the Marcus Roberts Trio, all musicians share equally in shaping the direction of the music through changing its tempo, mood, texture, or form, through a system of musical cues. One of the most enjoyable aspects of a Marcus Roberts Trio concert is how apparent it is that these three musicians are really having fun playing together.


Karen Salyer McElmurray

Karen McElmurray is an award-winning creative nonfiction author who is well noted for her many essays, novels and short stories. Her work has been supported by numerous grants, such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Her most recent novel, The Motel of the Star, was selected as editor’s pick by Oxford American.

Brendan Nolan

Brendan Nolan was born and reared just to the north of the city of Dublin. When he was growing up in Ireland in the sixties and seventies there was a resurgence of interest in Irish music. Spearheading this musical rebirth were groups like The Dubliners, Planxty, The Bothy Band, and others. Around the same time the singer-songwriter boom in North America had taken off. Both of these genres would ultimately influence his own music. After starting out in the vibrant Dublin Ballad scene of the mid-seventies he moved to Canada in 1979. For several years Brendan headlined festivals and concerts there and most recently here in the US. His appearances here in the states include Milwaukee Irish Festival, North Texas Irish Festival, and Florida Folk Festiva,l among several others. Brendan has six solo albums to his credit.

Ann Patchett

A winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize for Fiction, Ann Patchett is widely recognized as one of the nation’s leading writers. The author of six novels, including Bel Canto and State of Wonder, as well as several non-fiction books and a collection of essays, in her spare time she’s part-owner of Parnassus Books, an independent bookstore in Nashville.


Amanda Petrusich

Amanda Petrusich is the author of It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music and Pink Moon, an installment in Continuum’s acclaimed 33 1/3 series. She is a contributing writer for Pitchfork and a contributing editor at The Oxford American, and her music and culture writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Atlantic, Spin, Entertainment Weekly, and elsewhere. She has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from Columbia University and presently teaches at New York University’s Gallatin School. She lives in Brooklyn.

Erica Plouffe Lazure

Erica Plouffe Lazure received her MFA in fiction at Bennington in 2008. Her work has appeared in such publications as McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, the Greensboro Review, Meridian and American Short Fiction. She’s the author of two forthcoming chapbooks, Dry Dock and Heard Around Town. She teaches at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.


Marcia Porter, soprano

Soprano Marcía Porter made her Weill Recital Hall debut in 2005. Porter has performed with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, Beijing International Symphony Orchestra (Beijing, China), the Camerata Filarmonica Bohemia (Prague, CzechRepublic), the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Chautauqua Opera, and Dayton Opera, among others. Ms. Porter has recorded for Ars Produktion Label and her solo CD, Open Thine Heart, was released in 2013 (Albany Records). A Rotary International Cultural Ambassadorial Scholar, Porter has won numerous other awards and honors including the 2004 National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Artist Award Competition. Porter, a Fulbright Scholar specializing in Brazilian vocal literature and Brazilian Portuguese lyric diction, is an Associate Professor of Voice at the Florida State University College of Music.

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Vic Rawlings

Vic Rawlings is an electro-acoustic musician, sound installation artist and freelance teacher. He’s been a visiting artist at Oberlin Conservatory, MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Princeton, Dartmouth and Wesleyan. His current project, 215 Dead End Road, is a documentary film about the legendary Kentucky banjo player Lee Sexton. He lives in western Massachusetts.


Julia Reed

With writing that illustrates her unique views on the world of cooking, Julia Reed is a well-versed contributing editor at Elle Décor and Garden & Gun. She recently released her latest book, “But Mama Always Put Vodka In Her Sangria!,” where she explores the adventures in eating and drinking in various environments. Uniquely, she has her own flare on the traditional cook book, incorporating anecdotes with her delicious Southern American cuisine.

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Vernon Reid

Vernon Reid is an English American guitarist, songwriter, composer, and bandleader. Best known as the founder and primary songwriter of the rock band Living Colour, Reid was named No. 66 on Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Early versions of the group formed in New York City in 1983, but the personnel solidified in 1985–86, and Reid led the group for about another decade.


Rickards High Marching Raider Band

The goal of the James S. Rickards High Music Program is to offer students a solid and well-rounded musical education in a setting that is challenging and enjoyable. In addition, the Band Program's commitment to excellence encourages the development of strong leaders for tomorrow and promotes tolerance, community service and an interest in cultural diversity.

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Seryn is a 6 piece band who now calls Nashvile, TN their home. When listening to the well layered textures of guitars, ukulele, accordion, bass, violin, banjo and various percussion, it's hard to imagine This Is Where We Are is the band's debut effort. The band's strength resides in their vast musical talent and understanding of dynamics. Their beauty is gracefully displayed through chilling harmonies. Each member and their voice carry the same importance. One is not complete without the other.

The blend of voices and instrumentation heard throughout Seryn's first two albums creates a progressive-folk sound that isn't easily defined, but still accessible to casual listeners. What may first appear as straight folk songs later transcends into a cascading wall of sound. Over the past few years Seryn has been privileged to share the stage with incredible musicians including Twin Forks, The Head & The Heart, Polyphonic Spree, and The Walkmen. Looking ahead, the band will release Shadow Shows and continue to tour the U.S.


Matthew Shipp

Known for creating music in which free jazz and modern classical intertwined, pianist Matthew Shipp cultivated a unique style on his instrument. He became prominent in the '80s in the New York jazz scene, followed by his membership in the David S. Ware Quartet. Shipp recorded a number of duets with a variety of musicians, including Roscoe Mitchell, Antipop Consortium and Mat Maneri.

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Vivien Shotwell

Mezzo-soprano Vivien Shotwell’s debut novel Vienna Nocturne (Random House, 2014), which has been translated into ten languages, has been praised by The Washington Post as “intoxicating,” and by Chatelaine as “an exquisite read.” Vivien recently received her Artist Diploma from the Yale School ofMusic, where she was the recipient of the Phyllis Curtin Career Entry Prize and the David L. Kasdon Memorial Prize. She is a dual Canadian-American citizen, and a graduate of Williams College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She currently lives and writes in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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Peg Simone

Known to have the ability to lead your consciousness out of reality and into a world of memory and nostalgia, Peg Simone is a NYC artist with three full-length CD’s released to date and three EP’s on her own Catdolls label. She has collaborated with musicians Jonathan Kane and Sal Maida, and writer Holly Anderso.

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Story Pirates

Story Pirates believes that every child has a story to tell. Whether it's a world where cats can fly or a rock opera about fuzzy alien tickle monsters, this sketch comedy musical is based entirely on stories by elementary schoolers! And at the Story Pirates New Story Show, you’ll see the world premiere of three sketches written by students in Tallahassee! Performed alongside a few of our greatest hits stories, watch the Story Pirates celebrate the words and ideas of your very own student authors. This 45-minute show features 6 actors and a live pianist who bring along colorful sets, costumes, and props to create a hilarious, inspiring, and one-of-a-kind event.

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Sublime with Rome

Sublime with Rome is a musical collaboration comprised of Eric Wilson (former bassist of the band Sublime), lead singer/ guitarist Rome Ramirez and drummer Josh Freese. The three are widely known today for their performance blend of new songs and classic Sublime hits. With sounds firmly rooted in a fusion of reggae, alternative rock, punk, ska and even hip-hop, Sublime with Rome makes for an easy listening experience mixed with a little bit of funk. Click here to purchase tickets.

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Sway Jah Vu

Sway Jah Vu, a Florida based Reggae fusion band, uses a refreshing approach to music. With a distinct acoustic reggae-rock sound, Sway Jah Vu blends soul, jazz, and funk with powerful vocals and hard hitting beats. "We want to push the limits for creating new and exciting music while staying true to our mission of creating a cultural sway."

With every inspi-reggae song Sway Jah Vu continues to exemplify the message "every day is a second chance."

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Sweet Honey in the Rock

Challenge and change are the themes underlying the 40-year career of the revered female African-American a cappella ensemble, SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK. The ever-growing list of SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK’s musical and activist achievements since its creation is beyond stunning. The ladies have performed in Nairobi and Beijing at the U.N. World Conference on Women, toured the UK, Japan, Africa, Australia and various European locations, and has been the subject of two PBS documentaries, “Gotta Make This Journey” and “SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK: Raise Your Voice.”

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Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, featuring J.K. Simmons

The Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra is one of the finest regional orchestras in the country. Under the baton of Maestro Darko Butorac, the TSO offers a diverse and engaging season of performances that include orchestral masterworks, holiday pops, kids & family programming, and more. The TSO believes that music has the power to transform lives and connect us to community; therefore its mission is to reach as many as possible and expose them to the power of live orchestral music.

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Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer grew up in the Fiji Islands and currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida. His critically acclaimed NYT-bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy has been published in 20 countries and optioned for film by Scott Rudin Productions and Paramount Pictures. VanderMeer's nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Atlantic, Washington Post, the Guardian, and many more.

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Jim White

Raised in Pensacola, Florida, a town crushed between the church and heroin, Jim’s songs reach deep into the underbelly of the South. One time Pentacostal, fashion model, New York taxi driver, drifter, prosurfer, photographer, film-maker, his music is the conduit for all the stories he collected along the way. His previous albums ‘Wrong-Eyed Jesus’ [1997], ‘No Such Place’ [2001] and ‘Drill a Hole in That Substrate…’ [2004] were acclaimed as masterpieces of ‘outer space’ and established Jim as aphenomenal maverick talent.

Lily White

Lily White received her MFA in nonfiction from Bennington in 2013. She has performed and toured with the Latin jazz founding father Mario Bauza and the master organist Jimmy McGriff. She was awarded a Jazz Composition Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and has released three CDs: Somewhere Between Truth and Fiction, No Pork Long Line and Big Blue Line. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, Caffeine Presse and Brevity. She lives in Brooklyn.

James Wood

James Wood is the author of four books of criticism—The Broken Estate, The Irresponsible Self, How Fiction Works and The Fun Stuff—as well as The Book Against God, a novel. He is a staff writer at The New Yorker and teaches at Harvard.

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Gustafer Yellowgold

Gustafer Yellowgold’s Show is a multi-media performance of live music, animated illustrations and storytelling. With its unique crossover appeal, the show has been the wild-card opening act for Wilco and The Polyphonic Spree. Gustafer has appeared off-Broadway in his own productions of Gustafer Yellowgold’s Mellow Sensation and Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock. In addition to touring nationally to arts centers, children’s museums, theaters and music venues, Gustafer has ventured abroad for performances in the U.K and even Korea!