“A.R.K.A.N.S.A.S. Get There From Here” by Barrett Baber and Kenny Lamb is the winner of the Song of Arkansas contest, a promotion by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism that had musicians vying to see whose original tune would be chosen from pieces entered through YouTube and Soundcloud.
Celebrity judges chose from more than 230 entries to narrow the field to seven musicians, which were then voted on by the public.
The son of a Baptist preacher, Barrett grew up with music in the church, growing into choral music and eventually heading to Ouachita Baptist University, where he learned songwriting and how to play the guitar. He left OBU to head to Nashville to apprentice as a songwriter then returned to Arkansas to complete his education. While at UCA, he met his wife. After working in advertising in Little Rock and Fayetteville, Barrett turned to a new pursuit, teaching debate and forensics to students at Fayetteville High School, two years ago.
Kenny Lamb is an award-winning songwriter/producer with cuts in nearly every genre of music, with credits including ‘N Sync, Justin Timberlake, Aaron Carter, Take 5, Jason Aldean, Rhett Akins, Building 429, Ashley Monroe and Whitney Duncan. “My grandfather was born in Little Rock so Arkansas has always been part of my life,” Lamb explains. He moved to The Natural State from Nashville a little over a year ago and met Baber through mutual friends.
“I’m super excited about winning the contest, mostly because I love Arkansas so much and I’m excited to represent the state in such a unique way,” says Baber.
“We knew it was a song for Parks and Tourism, but I’m from Arkansas. I’m an Arkansas guy. I knew I would use it on a next project regardless of if it won. We wanted a song that was catchy but also promotes Arkansas as a place people can come on vacation, can come to live, and can do anything they imagine from here in Arkansas,” explains Baber.
“We thought we might have a really good song but you never know until you get it out there,” says Lamb.
“It’s been amazing the way people have responded to it,” adds Baber. “I think they get the message and agree with it, that no matter what you dream in life you can accomplish those things from here in Arkansas.”
“I remember when we sat down to start writing it, Barrett had a little melody going and we were thinking about the area and what attracts people to Arkansas,” explains Lamb. The phrase “get there from here” developed. “Within the State of Arkansas there is so much diversity and so much more than people know. You can find something great or appealing from wherever you are. You can get there whether physically or metaphorically.”
“I think what’s been great is I’ve worked closely with Barrett on his career and it adds another dimension to what he’s doing,” Lamb says. “He’s elevating his career on a national level and Arkansas goes with him wherever he goes. I’ve worked with the best of the best in the music industry and Barrett is on that level. He’s the real deal.”
Earlier this year Baber won the coveted GRAMMY Gig of a Lifetime and flew to L.A. to play Club Nokia during GRAMMY week 2014. He was selected from more than 2000 entries and 6 and a half million votes. Baber says winning the GRAMMY gig and now Song of Arkansas “is just another thing that’s gonna kick the can down the road. I feel like I’m getting to a place where the industry folks are going to have to take notice of me and the music scene here in Arkansas.”
Baber released his latest LP, Battlefield Us, in September 2013 with a sold out album release party at the UARK Ballroom in Fayetteville. The singer/songwriter is currently playing in Arkansas and surrounding states. He describes his music as “Roots Soul” – rhythm and blues and country all blended together for a rootsy feel with deep soul behind it.
As the Song of Arkansas winner, Baber will perform at the 40th annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Rogers on Monday, March 10. Lamb may sit in on guitar. They also receive a recording session and taping of a video of their winning entry along with $2000.
“I’m very proud to be part of the Song of Arkansas. To represent the state with a song is a great feeling. I hope it gets played for many years to come,” Lamb says.
“Thank you to the people that voted and good luck to the other contestants as well,” adds Baber. “I’m really humbled by the opportunity to represent Arkansas and by all the support I’ve seen over the last several weeks. I’m proud to be from here.”
The promotion by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism began the week of Thanksgiving and ran through Jan. 24. The judges included rock and roll pioneer Sonny Burgess, Broadway performer Lawrence Hamilton, award-winning Broadway musical director Jason Moore, Jimmy Buffett Coral Reefer Band member Mike Utley and The Wolf 105.1-FM morning show team Bob Robbins and Jennifer Trafford.