Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Arts Awards for 2021

St. Tammany Parish President Mike Cooper will honor 10 recipients at the 15th President’s Arts Awards presented by the St. Tammany Commission on Cultural Affairs, Thursday, November 18, 2021, from 5:30-8:30pm at Northshore Technical Community College north of Lacombe.

Recipients include:
Performing Artist of the Year - Kenya Lawrence Jackson
Visual Artist of the Year - Mary Monk
Literary Artist of the Year - Dr. Eva Semien Baham
Musical Artist of the Year - Richard "Ricky" Windhorst, III
Culinary Artist of the Year - Jeff Hansell
Patron of the Year - The Lake 94.7
President's Award - Ben Bensen, III
Outstanding Service Award - Stephen B. Cefalu
Native Son - Greg Barnhill
Lifetime Achievement Award - Ron Barthet
 The commission has been posting detailed bios of its award winners over on its Facebook page. CLICK HERE to go to the page. 
Here are some of the individual profiles being posted to that Cultural Arts Commission webpage.

Performing Artist of the Year
Kenya currently serves as the Director of Music and Worship at St. Timothy United Methodist Church in Mandeville, LA where her duties include coordinating a large and diverse music program. She conducts the much anticipated Christmas on the Northshore concerts, showcasing the talents of the 100-voice St. Timothy Choir and the Northshore Orchestra, an ensemble of over 40 local musicians. She also created, produces and directs the annual Of Thee I Sing patriotic celebration each Memorial Day weekend.

Kenya has produced many children’s theater productions, including Seussical the Musical, Alice in Wonderland, and Godspell Jr, in addition to several original productions.
Kenya also serves as the director of the Northlake Performing Arts Society, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to enhance and enrich the cultural life on the Northshore by using choral music as a catalyst to embrace and promote other art forms.

In addition to directing and teaching, Kenya enjoys performing and is the Principal Soprano with New Orleans based opera company OperaCréole. She was last seen as Mother Juliette Gaudin in the award-winning original production of Les Lions de le Reconstruction. She also sang the title role in the award-nominated production of Treemonisha and also helped make Opera Créole history in the title role of Flamenca in the award-winning La Flamenca.
A native of Hammond, LA., Ms. Jackson holds a Masters of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Southern Methodist University and a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Southeastern Louisiana University, where she was recognized with the James Wilcox Award for Outstanding Senior.
Mary Monk, Visual Artist of the Year

Mary has been an award winning professional artist for over twenty five years. Her work can be found in a myriad of public and private art collections in St. Tammany Parish and throughout the state of Louisiana. She has appeared in numerous magazines such as: Plein Air Magazine, Pastel Journal Magazine, Louisiana Life Magazine, New Orleans Art Review Magazine, and St. Charles Avenue Magazine. She was named one of the top ten pastel Artists to Watch in The Pastel Journal. She received the majority of her artistic training through classical drawing lessons but is a self taught pastelist. She is an active member of the Degas Pastel Society and the Pastel Society of America.

Monk’s primary medium is soft pastel and she is mostly known for her paintings of wetlands and rural landscapes. No matter the subject, sincere and truthful paintings are always the focus of her art. Her choices of subject matter are heavily influenced by growing up in the city and moving to the country. The transition from urban to the country sparked an infinite pool of inspiration for the artist. The majority of her paintings are en plein air.
Mary Monk grew up in New Orleans but has been living in Abita Springs with her husband and four children for the past twenty five years. She is represented by LeMieux Galleries in New Orleans, Louisiana and Rita Durio & Assoc. in New Iberia, Louisiana.

Dr. Eva Semien Baham, Literary Artist of the Year

Dr. Baham earned her doctorate from Purdue University in Indiana. After teaching at Southern University for over ten years, she is now a tenured assistant professor of history at Dillard University. Her work focuses on social and cultural histories, primarily on Louisiana’s African American communities. In doing so, she meshes historical and genealogical methods. Her work may best be described as historical eclecticism, as she studies and researches differing aspects of culture and their inter-relationships and inter-connections. Her most recent book publication is African Americans in Covington, where she traces the core of Covington's African American community members to their faiths' emphases on timeless endurance, perseverance, and active work for change and explores the rich history and contemporary experience rooted in both spiritual and civic involvement on behalf of the social, cultural, and economic advancement of their community, town, and country.

Semien also contributed a chapter in the book, “The Grand Rallying Point: Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists, Episcopalians, and Jews Forge a Lesson and a Legacy in Interfaith Cooperation” and has published several journal articles including “In the Moral Vineyard to Dispel the Darkness of Ignorance: African American Baptists in Louisiana;” and “Searching for Duplin and Zoe Amid the Contradictions of Being Slave and Free.”

Additionally, Dr. Baham has performed professionally as a consultant for documentary films, as a panelist, lecturer, speaker, and presenter all over the United States for numerous causes and educational events due to her vast knowledge. She has also been asked to compose numerous book reviews. Baham also has extensive experience serving on university committees and boards. Currently, she is the President of the Louisiana Historical Association and is also the Dillard Campus advisor to Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society. She is a founding member of the Charles Deslondes Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

Dr. Baham is the recipient of numerous awards including College Teacher of the Year and the Frank Sugeno Research Award. She also enjoys mentoring students pursuing their undergraduate and graduate studies. We are honored to have Dr. Baham in our community as a resident of Slidell.
Richard “Ricky” Windhorst, III, Musical Artist of the Year

Ricky currently can be seen performing all over the New Orleans area with popular party band Four Unplugged, the original J.J. Muggler Band, the Tchefuncte River Band and other side projects and guest appearances. His newest project is a joint effort with Grammy Nominated and Emmy winning songwriter Greg Barnhill writing, performing, and recording a new CD reminiscent of their Louisiana music heritage.

Ricky is a member of The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame for his songwriting and vocal contributions to the eponymous J.J. Muggler debut CD.

Since his musical journey began in 1972, he has been performing and writing music including the production of several CDs of both original and cover tunes. Next Best Thing to Heaven (St. Tammany USA), co-written with Christian Serpas, was adopted by the St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce.

Ricky has also served on the board and as Production Manager for the Mandeville Seafood Festival from 2003 to 2013. Furthermore, Ricky is a proud board member of the Ozone Music Education Foundation & Songwriter Festival. He supports their mission to help educate and promote local songwriters.

He is often called upon as a consultant and participant in community civic and charitable endeavors, both as a Master of Ceremonies and for his event production expertise. When Ricky performs he brings his larger-than-life talent that draws and entertains crowds of all ages and interests.

Ricky was born in New Orleans and has been a resident of St. Tammany since 1986. He currently resides in Mandeville with Jan, his wife and bandmate, and their two dogs, Corky and Roxie.
The Lake 94.7 - Patron of the Year

Lake 94.7 is part of a larger, family owned media company called Northshore Media Group, with businesses in Southeast Louisiana and Southwest Mississippi. The company wide intention is for their radio signals to serve as a “voice” for the markets they represent, covering local news, weather, sports and traffic. They also use their voice to support local causes and the arts in our community. 
The station is home for the 80’s, 90’s, Today, and everything Northshore! In addition to keeping the Northshore musically entertained, every weekday morning The Lake 94.7 offers two interview spots for local non-profits, church, civic, or any other groups or individuals trying to make our community a better place to live or raise money for a cause. Often, The Lake’s path will intersect with the artistic world through these events, where a musical artist might be performing at a local event, or a painter may have donated work to raise funds. The Lake enjoys helping to promote these events through local interviews with these artists. They also regularly interview local authors and community theaters. 
When The Lake 94.7 started offering free local interviews eight years ago it started with one interview a day and sometimes there were none. Now the interview calendar stays booked with three local interviews per day, and sometimes four or five. These spotlights provide an opportunity to reach audiences, gain support for upcoming events, and bring positive changes to the community via the radio.

The station plays an important role in the St. Tammany community by supporting and promoting the arts and local talent. Thank you Lake 94.7!
Jeffrey Hansell, Culinary Artist

Chef Hansell grew up on the gulf coast of Mississippi. Surrounded by the commercial fishing and shrimping industry, his love of fresh ingredients and the local catch inspired him to begin a career in the culinary field.

Upon graduation from Culinary School at The University of Southern Mississippi, Hansell moved to New Orleans to work under Executive Chef Tory McPhail at Commander’s Palace. He went on to work under Chef Thomas Robey at Veranda on Highland in Birmingham, AL, Chef Robert McCormick at Little Nell’s Restaurant, Montagna in Aspen, Colorado, and Chef John Besh at restaurant Lüke.

Hansell has been featured twice in “Best Chefs of America” and “Best Chefs the American South” the first ever peer review of American Chefs. Also featured in PBS.org kitchen careers, the Braiser.com in “the top 10 chefs to know in Birmingham.” Chef Hansell was nominated as Food & Wine Best New Chef 2014, representing the Gulf Coast.
That same year, Hansell moved to St. Tammany where he opened Ox Lot 9, a restaurant in the Southern Hotel in downtown Covington, known for its simple yet sophisticated approach to local seasonal ingredients. His most recent endeavor, The Thorny Oyster, is an upscale seafood restaurant in Bay St. Louis, MS. Hansell resides in St. Tammany with his wife and two children.
Steve Cefalu Outstanding Service Award

Steve is a founding member of the St. Tammany Parish Commission Cultural Affairs, having served as chair and vice-chair during his fifteen-year tenure. He has taught Theatre and Speech at the University of New Orleans, Southeastern, and Delgado and is in his 16th year of teaching Talented Theatre for the St. Tammany Parish Public School System.

Cefalu has served on the board of the Slidell Little Theatre and the Slidell Commission on the Arts. He was a Northshore theatre critic for the Times-Picayune's for fifteen years, and has hosted the Access St. Tammany cable television show, Lifestyles, since 2000. He was also the co-owner of the Rose Diner Theatre in Gretna, Lousisiana.

Steve holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Drama & Communications from LSU New Orleans and a Masters of Fine Arts Degree in Acting from the University of New Orleans. Steve is an experienced actor, director and playwright and has been honored with several local theatre awards including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Director Awards. Steve started a summer theatre programs at a local church for children 5-18 years old and has directed plays at other area churches.

On- and off-stage, Cefalu is long-time supporter of the arts in St Tammany Parish. Steve and his wife, Donna Rene are residents of Lacombe and they have two sons, Shane and Stephen. Congratulations Steve Cefalu and thank you for your contributions to our community.
Ben Bensen - President’s Award 
Bensen studied advertising at USL and attended the Art Center, College of Design in Los Angeles, California before beginning a freelance career as a storyboard illustrator, art director, and designer.
Through his company Ben Bensen's Graphic Gumbo, he has worked for clients in a variety of fields including entertainment, aerospace, automotive, consumer products and sports. His powerhouse client list includes Paramount, Warner Brothers, Disney, Coca-Cola, Apple, and Nike – just to name a few.
Bensen taught at the Art Center College of Design and the American College of Applied Arts in Westwood, California. He is a tenured member of the Society of Illustrators/Los Angeles, chairperson for the U.S. Air Force Art Program for Southern California, and is member of the American Society of Aircraft Artists. 
In 2001, Bensen moved to Folsom to spend more time painting, where much of his work specializes in the scenic beauty of Louisiana. He is a member of the St. Tammany Art Association and the curator for the Gallery At City Hall in Covington.
Ron Barthet, Lifetime Achievement President’s Arts Award

Ron Lamar Barthet was born in New Orleans, LA, and moved to Covington, LA in 1968. After attending Southeastern Louisiana University, he became editor of the Slidell Sentry News. He was named Associate News Editor at the Covington Daily News in 1972, and the following year Ron was promoted to editor of the Mandeville Banner, the successor to the Mandeville Bantam.

During this time he became active with the newly-organized St. Tammany Historical Society and the St. Tammany Art Association. In mid-1974 Bob Landry left The St. Tammany Farmer, and Ron was called in to work there as editor.

In his spare time, he traveled across the parish, making copies of old faded photographs, in an effort to preserve them. He would present to various civic associations across the parish slide shows featuring hundreds of old pictures, as well as aerial photographs he had taken on several flights over the area.

Ron served as president of the historical society in 1977, and again in the mid-1980's, and then again in 1997. He was elected to the board of directors of the Art Association in 1977, and he was a founding member of the St. Tammany Press Club. His work history includes magazine articles published in several regional and national magazines, and his photographic work includes wedding and family portraits, pictures for legal cases, and slide shows for tourist promotion programs. For two years in the early 1980's he hosted a daily radio interview show over WARB in Covington.

In 1984, he drew a cartoon pictorial map of downtown Covington to show where various portions of the first "Olde Towne Festival" would be held, and the map was so popular that he has now drawn more than 70 additional "bird's eye view" maps of communities across the South. He has produced maps for the annual ChefSoiree held by the Youth Service Bureau for more than 20 years.

Barthet has written several books, some science fiction, and he dabbles in poetry and songwriting, one song of which was named the “official song of Covington.” His books have spotlighted history, Cajun comedy, and imaginary festivals.

Between 2000 and 2014, he managed the  St. Tammany Parish Public School System's website. Now retired, he currently takes pictures and writes articles for his "Tammany Family" blog, a daily look at the people, places, history and scenic beauty of St. Tammany Parish.
Greg Barnhill - Native Son President’s Arts Award

Originally from New Orleans, Barnhill moved to the Northshore with his family in 1965. As a writer and performer his entire life, and now a successful singer, songwriter and producer living in Nashville, Barnhill has not forgotten his Louisiana roots.

He is the Founder and President of the Ozone Music Education Foundation & Songwriter Festival which provides music education, support, and mentorship to those wanting to learn the music industry and develop skills and knowledge as songwriters and musicians in St. Tammany Parish.

Artists from Etta James, Martina McBride, and Jessica Simpson to Chicago, Tim McGraw, Lee Ann Womack, Leona Lewis and many in between have embraced his songs. “Walkaway Joe,” recorded by Trisha Yearwood and Don Henley, was a significant milestone in his career. The song went on to earn him a Grammy nomination as well as the respect of his peers that follows him to this day.

Barnhill also had a crossover smash with “House of Love” for Amy Grant and Vince Gill. Other hit songs include “Same Ol Love”, “99.9% Sure I’ve Never Been Here Before”, “She’s Taken’ A Shine” and “Never Been Kissed”. He garnered critical acclaim with the 2014 single, Gary Allan's" It Ain't The Whiskey" which got rave reviews for its bold take on the issue of addiction.

While Barnhill’s chart successes are impressive, he has also recorded, written, and produced a number of TV themes and jingles. In 2007, He earned an Emmy nomination for his hit “It’s A New Day” for “The Today Show.”

You can also hear his work on CNN, Fox and Friends, The View, Crown Royal, New Orleans Saints (NFL)Tennessee Titans (NFL), Nashville Predators (NHL), Atlanta Braves (MLB) and other national and regional sports teams, businesses and television programs.

In April of 2009, Greg co-wrote and co-produced the new theme song for CBS The Early Morning Show “A Lot Happens Early”. Later in 2009, Barnhill was nominated for his second Emmy for the NASCAR theme “Be There.”

In 2010, Greg Barnhill was nominated for his third Emmy and won for ‘Best Original Song’ for the Today Show theme “Your Day Is Today.” He has written and performed in yet another New Orleans Saints video/ theme song “Big Thang”.

In 2011 he had the song “I Know Who I Am” recorded by Leona Lewis for Tyler Perry’s latest movie “For Colored Girls” in the movie as well as, on the Atlantic soundtrack. It was also used to promote the movie "The Butler".

Also in 2011, his songs were used in the HBO series "TREME", and in the CW network's "Hart of Dixie". In 2015 you can hear his production chops on ME-TV's 2017 promotional campaign, as well as CNN tonight and CNBC's shark tank nation promos.

Greg is one of Nashville’s first call master vocalists. He performs around the world with other amazing artists and songwriters. You can also hear Greg’s voice on the recordings of Tim McGraw and Toby Keith, just to name a few.

See also: