Free Wins Top State Art Honors

By Wayne Allen

Friday, April 18, 2008 3:32 PM CDT


Community Common photo by Wayne Alien

steve_free_imageOn Wednesday Steve Free, of McDermott, accepted one of the states highest honors as one of the Individual Artists of the Year, from the Ohio Arts Council at the 2008 Governors Awards for the Arts at Columbus Athenaeum.

The awards show brought out a number of people from around the state, as well as state legislators in support of Ohio arts and the winners. Free was the only winner from the southeastern part of the state.

Gov. Ted Strickland was onhand to deliver the opening remarks. Senate President Bill Harris and Speaker of the House John Husted presented the awards to each of the award recipients.

“Each winner has a unique role. They have collectively made a significant contribution to Ohio’s diverse tradition of art,” said Gov. Strickland. “Everyone who has received an award has demonstrated excellence. I am inspired the artists have worked hard for this great state of ours, and I deeply appreciate the passion they have for the arts.”

There were 69 nominations submitted by individuals and organizations throughout Ohio for the seven categories. The categories included Arts Administration, which was won by Marcie Goodman, executive director of the Cleveland International Film Festival. Michael Huffam, of Lima City School, won the Arts in Education award.

The impact of the arts not only affects the quality of life and the quality of Ohio’s economy, the arts is a major asset to attracting new jobs to our state, and ultimately to our ability to foster creativity and innovation within our people,” Gov. Strickland noted.

Susan Reams of Perrysburg was named Arts Patron of the Year and Limited Brands of Columbus was given the award for Business Support of the Arts.

Dr. Catherine Roma director of MUSE, Cincinnati Women’s Choir, Umoja Men’s Chorus and Voices of Freedom Choir of Cincinnati, was named the winner of the Community Development & Participation award.

There were two Individual Artist awards given, one presented to Dr. Burton Berrman a composer/musician from Bowling Green. The other individual artist award was present to local artist Steve Free. Free is an appalachian singer and songwriter and an eight-time ASCAP award winning songwriter, with a platinum record to his name and 12 songs that have made it to national and international charts.

“Grandpa always told me even a blind squirrel finds and acorn every once in a while, I think I found my acorn today,” Free said during his acceptance speech. “I am very honored and proud to receive this award. To me, this award is important because it represents the entire area, it’s like Appalachia won this award.”

His natural talent for making music come alive and his knowledge of Appalachian and Native American music has the ability to capture the imagination and hearts of all who hear him perform.

“Scioto County has some of the most wonderful voices in their children’s choirs. To have Steve, who is one of their role models, win this award is great. Southern Ohio is a creative area where we care about the arts and hopefully, we are inspiring these young people to become the Steve Free’s of the future,” Mary Boll a K-4 Teacher at Valley Local Schools said.

“My charge to the people of Ohio is to continue to imagine, to create, to innovate and inspire,” Gov. Strickland said.

This article appeared int he Community Common | April 20, 2008

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