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North Alabama wins big at Soul of the South awards

BIRMINGHAM – North Alabama showed out at the Soul of the South awards in Birmingham. Hosted by SoulGrown, a digital publication that highlights the culture, beauty, and people of Alabama, the event honored recipients who represent the best that’s yet to come.

“Each honoree was nominated by an established creator in Alabama,” said Courtney Hancock, CEO of SoulGrown. “Honored guests like designer Billy Reid of Florence and Anna Brakefield of Red Land Cotton personally selected up-and-coming creatives to spotlight. 

“These are people who love our land, grow our food, create our art, curate our spaces, take care of our people, feed us award-winning meals, clothe us, entertain us and tell our stories.”

Huntsville-based musician Wanda Wesolowski won the statewide Music & Entertainment category. Nominated by Ryan Murphy with the Orion Amphitheater, himself no stranger to awards, Wesolowski has been performing professionally since age 14. Known professionally as The Wanda Band, she credits Huntsville with providing opportunities to play as a teen between all-age events and busking on the streets.   

“The most important thing is that I do this because I love it and not because of any other motive, this is simply what I am supposed to do,” she said.

Another honoree with North Alabama ties featured at the Soul of the South awards was Savannah Yarborough. Nominated by acclaimed clothing designer Billy Reid, Yarborough won the Fashion & Textile Design category. She is the former head menswear designer at Billy Reid based in Florence.  

Yarborough founded SAVAS in 2015 with the goal of bringing the Savile Row approach to the world of leather. A sartorial British-trained menswear tailor and designer, she works to combine the best of old-world craftsmanship with cutting-edge innovation.   

The Soul of the South awards took place at Barber Motorsports and also featured a number of North Alabama sponsors including Visit the Shoals, Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism and the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB).  

Jennifer Moore, president & CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County CVB, said it was an honor to be part of the event that highlights the culture and beauty of Alabama.

“Alabama is rich in culture, history, music and the arts,” said Moore. “It was an honor to recognize the talented artists and individuals who share their gifts to enrich our communities.”

The awards presented to the winners were handcrafted by Garlan and Heather Gudger of Southern Accents Architectural Antiques in Cullman. The company is one of the largest architectural salvage businesses in the nation.

Other winners were Jahman Hill, Writing & Storytelling; Mack Braden, Architecture & Interior Design; Brooke and Jonny de Jong, Food & Beverage; Mary Lauren McBride, Architecture & Interior Design; Shannon and Megan Brantley, Artists & Makers; Isaac Cooper, Innovation & Entrepreneurship; Karah Skinner, Farming & Agriculture; Uma Srivastava, Humanitarianism & Philanthropy; and Freddy Padilla, Sports & Outdoors. 

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