An Article By
Johnny Cole & Juanita Smith
Photos by Stephen Anderson
Each year, The Southland Music Line’s management team 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. Past recipients of The Southland Music Line’s Music Artist of the Year are “Willie Sugarcapps” (2014), The Mulligan Brothers (2015), Lisa Mills (2016), Grayson Capps (2017), Abe Partridge (2018), Sugarcane Jane (2019) and The Red Clay Strays in 2020. We strive to choose music artists that have not only had a successful year locally, but who have also represented our region of the country well.
This year’s recipient is an artist who has traveled the world representing the Mobile, Alabama and Gulf Coast region in a manner that we can all take pride. The Southland Music Line is pleased to announce that Eric Erdman has been selected as the 2021 Music Artist of the Year, and we might add, it’s long overdue. When it came time to write the article spotlighting this incredible music artist we decided the best person to tell us a little about him would be his mom, Juanita Smith, a.k.a. “Music Mom”. In recent years, she has become an accomplished local music journalist. Her articles and internet blog have been a well received addition to the local music community. Eric’s mom has also had the privilege of traveling with him to a number of locations in the continental United States and abroad. Their relationship is truly admired by many, thus she is that “perfect person” to share a few interesting facts with our readers about this year’s Music Artist of the Year.
…and now a few words by Juanita Smith:
When Eric was barely able to crawl he would go to the far end of our living room and sit next to the stereo where we constantly had the likes of James Taylor and Jim Croce playing. He would sit quietly and peacefully there. When I would try to pick him up from that spot he would cry. At that time I did not realize music had such a pull on him… it was a part of him and he already knew that, although it was years before I understood.
At three years old, Eric was the ring bearer in his cousin’s wedding where a band was playing at the reception. I was talking and suddenly realized my 3 year old was no longer in his chair. At the same moment the band leader announced there was a surprise guest singer. I looked up to see Eric on the stage. The only two songs he knew were “Zippy-Dee-Doo-Dah” and the theme song from The Dukes of Hazzard. He sang them well, even getting down on one knee in his little tuxedo. I thought, well he is a very OUTGOING child; I hope that is a good thing.
Many years later, when Eric was in a talent show at his high school he played his acoustic guitar and sang “Time in a Bottle” for which he received a roaring ovation. Throughout these events I thought he was just having fun; it never occurred to me that this might be his future.
When he graduated high school he said “Mom, I am going to join a band!” My response was “No way, I put my foot down. You cannot join a band; they play music in dirty bars around drunk people”. (Turns out some of the best people I know, I met in a bar.)
I gave in and bought him a guitar. Since the first time he stepped on stage, I have been his biggest fan. He has worked hard to make sure I never regretted supporting his decision to become a musician. He graduated from the University of South Alabama with a major in Statistics and very close to a minor in French… all the while playing music on the weekends.
Top photo: Eric Erdman at The Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm in Silverhill, AL; above photo: Eric Erdman at The Peoples Room of Mobile (AL)
Eric was in a cover band “Method to Madness”, then in a rock band “The Ugli Stick” for about 13 or 14 years. They played USO Tours all across the United States and around the world in places like Afghanistan, DuBai, Barain, UAE, Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands and other locations.
Eventually, the band members each had different visions of where they wanted to be in life. At that point Eric began his solo singer/songwriter career. He has not slowed down once since then. He has played throughout the U.S., throughout Europe and two 3-month tours of Australia (cutting his 2nd songwriter album while there). Two of the songs from his first solo album “My Brother’s Keepers” were in the top ten of the International category of the ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) Awards. His songs “Bird on a Powerline” and “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right” placed 3rd and 5th.
Eric is a guy who has his eggs in many baskets. He works every day. Currently he releases a brand new song on Friday of each week, some are written solely by Eric, some with co-writers. He is about to complete his 3rd year of releasing more than 50 songs a year. He calls this program “FRESH SONG FRIDAYS” and released song #150 on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. When he releases his new song each week, the veteran-owned internet station, Radio Trop Rock, airs it. (Thanks to owners/general managers, Eric and Gina Babin.)
Eric has been a member of the Trop Rock Music Association for 5 or 6 years. (Aside from promoting the Trop Rock music genre, TRMA developed an Artist Relief Foundation in 2020 following the Covid lockdowns.) He plays at house concerts and other venues across the country with this wonderful group of music people. Recently he was recognized at the TRMA Awards program in Key West, Florida. His song “The Wave” (co-written by Donny Brewer) was awarded “Best Song of 2021” and Eric received “Best Songwriter of 2021”.
Eric Erdman has only just begun. He has many “irons in the fire” and you might say they are all getting hot at the same time. Look for some great things ahead!
Juanita Smith a.k.a. “Music Mom” with her son Eric Erdman at home in Mobile, AL (Wed. Nov. 24. 2021)
The Southland Music Line would like to thank Juanita Smith for sharing her fond memories of Eric’s interesting past and the latest news about her talented son. When he isn’t traveling around the world, Eric Erdman performs at some of the Gulf Coast best music venues such as The Peoples Room of Mobile, Callaghan’s Irish Social Club, The Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm and others. We thank Eric Erdman for his many contributions to the local music scene and we look forward to following his outstanding career in the coming years.
Click Here for Eric Erdman’s official website.
Eric’s “Fresh Song Fridays” airs every Friday at 12 noon central. Click Here for Radio Trop Rock.
Eric Erdman: 2021 Music Artist of the Year
at The Southland Music Line
Eric not only enjoys writing & performing music, but he also has a love for the exciting sport of disc golf. Here is a personalized Eric Erdman disc.
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Additional Editing by Brenda Germany
© The Southland Music Line. 2021.
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