The 2020 Best of the Best virtual celebration was held Thursday, Sept. 24, and featured performances by local musicians and notable Chattanoogans such as Leslie Jordan, Glass Hammer, Deacon Bluez and others. Watch each individual performance below or watch the full show here.
Leslie Jordan, who claims to be the only person whose career has improved during the pandemic.
His Instagram following may just now be taking off and making him a viral social media star, but since he left UTC with that theater degree, Leslie Jordan has had roles in 85 sitcoms and dramas including such popular shows as "Ally McBeal," "Boston Legal" and "Will & Grace." Now he's even working on a new book.
CODY MCCARVER and JOHN SCHNEIDER
Dunlap resident Cody McCarver. A country music singer and actor who created his own style of songwriting and performing that he calls outlaw gospel music, McCarver combines the raw fun sounds of outlaw country with the positive message of gospel music.
In recent years, he has teamed with fellow actor and musician John Schneider of "Dukes of Hazzard" fame to write and perform music, as well as star in motion pictures.
DYLAN KUSSMAN with TROPIC SOL
BIlling itself as the "best little island party band in Chattanooga," Tropic Sl consists of California native Roger Davis on drums, North Carolina native Jon Littlefield on bass and Los Angeles transplant Dylan Kussman on guitar and vocals.
The three met in 2018 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Chattanooga, where they are all active members, and soon discovered that they had a shared love of palm trees, hammocks and laid-back grooves. You may recognize Kussman as a film and television actor whose appearances include such films as "X-Men 2," "The Way of the Gun" and "Dead Poets Society."
Let's let none other than Garth Brooks describe our next guest. The two have become friends and co-writers on several songs in recent years. Brooks says of the rising star: "Mitch Rossell has one of those voices that spins your head around the second you hear it, but that is only the beginning. Once he has your attention, get ready for some of the best lyrics and melodies you have ever heard."
Mitch wrote, "Ask Me How I Know," which reached the #1 spot on the Mediabase and Billboard Country Airplay charts, becoming Brooks' first #1 since 2007. Rossell is also a co-writer on Brooks' current radio single, "All Day Long".
After finishing an All-American basketball stint at UTC, Karen Mills became a full-time comedian playing comedy clubs and theaters across the nation including numerous appearances on the Grand Ole Opry.
An Ovarian cancer survivor, she was chosen to deliver her talk, "Cancer is a Laughing Matter" at TEDxChattanooga, and she continues to share her "comedy with a message" at healthcare and survivor events. Karen remains a Chattanooga resident and performs regularly at the Comedy Catch.
Deacon Bluz is a local musician and music historian whose life was impacted and influenced by several music teachers he was fortunate to have had, as well as the artists he either met or knew of while growing up in Chattanooga.
He shares stories about his childhood friend Samuel L. Jackson, and how The Funky Drummer, Mr. Clyde Stubblefield himself, found that sound walking along the train tracks near Engel Stadium.
ROGER ALAN WADE
Roger Alan Wade is a singer-songwriter with numerous hits to his credit, having written top-selling songs recorded by people such as Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Jr. and many more.
He co-hosts the Big Ass Happy Family show with his cousin Johnny Knoxville every week on Sirius XM and these days he can be found each Tuesday night on Facebook performing an hour-long show of his songs with his band live from high atop Elder Mountain.
LaFayette, Georgia, native Todd Suttles was working as a sports fitness director at Vanderbilt University in 2014 when he got the call to join the Gaither Vocal Band, one of Southern gospel music's most-beloved ensembles.
The baritone singer says his influences range from George Jones to Mahalia Jackson. He says his LaFayette High School classmates will most likely remember him as a Ramblers wrestler and football player.
STRUNG LIKE A HORSE
Strung Like A Horse has proven to be one of Chattanooga's most fun and unpredictable bands over the years and they will release their debut studio album Oct. 30 with a big, limited ticket and socially-distanced party at The Signal.
The album, 'WHOA,' was recorded in Studio A at the Sound Emporium in Nashville with Grammy-winning producer Matt Ross-Spang. The record is an Americana sound and color explosion that embraces the bluegrass roots of the band and some good ole Southern Rock n Roll. They will also be releasing the first single off of the album on Oct 2 on all streaming platforms. Be sure to check it out.
Mitch Ryder is best known for hit songs like "Devil with a Blue Dress," "Jenny Take a Ride" and "CC Rider." He moved to the North Georgia area almost four years ago from Detroit with his wife to be closer to her family.
He is currently recording a brand new album of all new material at Songbirds Studio downtown.
Producer /songwriter Steve Babb is perhaps best known internationally as the bassist and band-leader of the progressive rock group Glass Hammer. Glass Hammer has headlined nearly all of the major prog-rock festivals around the world, and has just released their nineteenth studio album, "Dreaming City"
As the owner of Chattanooga's longest running recording studio, Sound Resources, Steve produces dozens of artists, radio spots, voice-overs and audio-books for clients like Harper-Collins and MTV. Other than a few years spent touring with bands, Steve has been a life-long resident of Chattanooga where he makes his home with wife, Julie, and son Jon Michael.
James Rogers retired about two years ago after a long performing career in the Pigeon Forge/Tri-cities part of East Tennessee.
His career started in North Georgia and found its way to the Chattanooga Choo Choo in the '70s before he took his talents to Dollywood. He is currently working on a new book and writing some music for an upcoming Hollywood movie called "The Sound Of The Game." He also serves on the Board Of Directors for the American Eagle Foundation in Pigeon Forge.