Appeared in Portsmouth Daily Times: Frank Lewis (author), photo by staff photo
If there is a record for independent artists receiving awards, Steve Free must be in the books somewhere, and if things go his way, he will receive another in the spring.
Free, whose music is harder to nail down than his busy appearance schedule, is considered a folk singer/storyteller, records for Cincinnati-based Fraternity Records, and performs more than 200 days a year.
"I'm up for the Governor's Awards for the Arts in Ohio," Free said. "You have to be nominated by six groups, and the letters they sent go on with, like, 'Steve Free is this, and Steve Free is that,' and they come from Ripley, Georgetown, Cleveland, Steubenville, this one's from Carl Daehler (director of the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts on the campus of Shawnee State University), and the last one is from Shawnee State University."
Free said the Governor's Awards for the Arts are handed out in much the same manner as the Academy Awards,
"There's six categories, Arts Administration, Arts and Education, Arts Patron, Business and Community Development, and Individual Artist," Free said. The latter is the one he is vying for. "There have been two winners down here over the years. One was SOMC (Southern Ohio Medical Center), and one was the Southern Ohio Museum."
Free said he considers the situation a lesson in humility. When he went online, people encouraged him, telling him he can win because a lot of people in Ohio know him. "So I start thinking maybe they're right. I'm not world famous but I get around," Free said. "Then when I go online to see who all is nominated, I see the first name, Jorma Kaukonen, and it reads, 'a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a founding member of the rock group Jefferson Airplane'."
Free said the final decision as to who wins the award rests with the awards selection committee, comprised of members of the Ohio Arts Council.and then in April they have the big awards banquet," Free said. "It's called Arts Day in Ohio, and it's .held on April 16 at the Columbus Athenaeum in downtown Columbus. I've been there one time. It's a huge building."
Free said he didn't know how many awards he has won over the years. "I know that I get more awards than I do money," he said.
Free said he is continuing to make appearances and also will be going back into the recording studio soon.
"My next really big concert is for the Ironton Arts Council. They have an arts series, and they have a chamber orchestra there, and we'll be doing a concert for them at Ohio University Southern on the (Nov.) 10th," Free said. "And I'm going to be working on a new CD, probably in December or January I'll start on it. And I have two new singles coming out,"
Free said he would release the country song "Homegrown Tomatoes," which was scheduled to be released on Oct. 30 to some 1,500 radio outlets, primarily public radio and country radio, and for the Christmas season, a song that has been successful for him over the last several years, titled "Baby Boy,"
Free also signed with HGM Nashville to have the song released on a Christmas compilation CD which will include several artists, including Diamond Rio, Rascal Flatts and Randy Travis.
Free said the song always gets airplay at Christmas time on a variety of formats. "And then I'm doing it with the orchestra (Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra) and a 60-member choir. We did it last year, and we kind of threw it together and it went very well," Free said. "And we're doing it again at the Vern Riffe Center for the Aits."
Free has won two King Eagle Air play International Awards, was the 1996 Academy of Independent Recording Artists Singer/Songwriter of the year, and has won numerous other awards, and this one would find its place in his collection. But no matter what, he will continue to perform in a variety of venues, telling his stories and singing his songs.
For more information about the award nomination and Steve Free's nomination letters : click here