Cary Hudson: 2023 Music Artist of the Year

By Robby Amonett .
Additional Commentary .
by Johnny Cole .

Photos by Stephen Anderson

When asked to contribute this article, I was both ecstatic and overwhelmed but in truth I was deeply honored. The Southland Music Line is proud to announce this year’s recipient of the Music Artist of the Year, Carey Hudson, a living legend. Carey Hudson is from the small Mississippi town of Sumrall. He has an impressive history of cofounding the Hill Tops and Blue Mountain, in addition to having a long and successful solo career.

One of the highlights each year for me is painting at Cary’s Piney Woods Picnic. Cary has hosted this event for many years. I have painted many of Cary’s performances there and across the region.

Several years back, I was painting at the performance at a sold-out Jason Isbell concert at Brewsky’s in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Cary opened with an amazing solo acoustic set to a room full of eager listeners. When Jason came out on stage, he made the remark that Cary’s performance was great and that he should be the opening act for him. Isbell called him “a national treasure.”

A Grammy-winning artist, Isbell could not have been more correct. The Hilltops and Hudson’s Blue Mountain were indeed at the forefront of the Alt-Country/Americana movement of the late 80s and early 90s. This movement included bands such as Uncle Tupelo, X, The Jayhawks, Whiskytown, and the Old 97s. The album, Dog Days will always have a spot on my constant music rotation.

While growing up in his small hometown, Hudson grew to appreciate all styles of music ranging from church music and gospel to blues and country. In the late 80s, Hudson formed the Hilltops with siblings Laurie and John Stirratt. Following John Stirratt’s departure from the band to join Uncle Tupelo and later cofound Wilco, Cary and Laurie formed Blue Mountain. The popular Blue Mountain had a long and successful run and developed a loyal, devoted fanbase.

Cary Hudson has shared the stage with blues greats Bobby Rush, R. L. Burnside, and Big Jack Johnson. In 2008, he was named by Gibson Magazine as one of the Top 10 Alt-Country Guitar Players of all time. Hudson has played with many musicians over the course of his career, most recently with Katrina Miller, a fiddle player, as well as his daughter Anna. Presently he can also be found performing with his band, Hud and the Hurricane.  Cary has had a successful career, and countless accomplishments cementing him in the Great American Songbook.

Some Additional Comments by Johnny Cole:

Each year, the editors and management team at The Southland Music Line along with a body of consultants and contributors choose an artist to be the “Music Artist of the Year”. Unlike our annual “Readers’ Choice Award”, this is entirely voted on by those listed above and not based solely on popularity. Since 2014, there have been nine past recipients: Willie Sugarcapps (2014), The Mulligan Brothers (2015), Lisa Mills (2016), Grayson Capps (2017), Abe Partridge (2018), Sugarcane Jane (2019), The Red Clay Strays (2020), Eric Erdman (2021), and Blue Mother Tupelo (2022). We strive to choose music artists who have not only had a successful year locally but who have also represented our region of the country well.

As spotlighted by Robby Amonett, one of the co-founders of The Southland Music Line, our tenth recipient for Music Artist of the Year is Cary Hudson, a favorite of ours for many years. He was an easy choice for us to make in 2023. 

The Hilltops: Holler (1989); Big Black River (1991)
Blue Mountain: Blue Mountain (1993); Dog Days (1995); Homegrown (1997); Tales of a Traveler (1999); Roots (2001); Tonight It’s Now or Never (2002); Midnight in Mississippi (2008); Omnibus (2008)

Cary Hudson (solo): The Phoenix (2002); Live In Wredenhagen (2002); Cool Breeze (2004); Bittersweet Blues (2006); Seems To Me (2010); Mississippi Moon (2012); Town And Country (2014); Christmas in Mississippi (2019); Hobolochitto (2021)

Cary Hudson
Cary Hudson
Cary Hudson
Cary Hudson at the Frog Pond
Cary Hudson at Jack’s by the Tracks
Cary Hudson at the Frog Pond

Cary Hudson Links:
All Music. com

Page Designed & Edited by Johnny Cole
Additional Editing by Deborah Chatham
© The Southland Music Line. 2023.
All rights reserved

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: We welcome requests for permission to use content from The Southland Music Line website and Facebook page. Any shared articles or photos may not be altered, edited nor cropped and must include the appropriate copyrights of The Southland Music Line.

Related Articles

Back to top button