Lisa Mills : 2016 Music Artist of the Year

The Southland Music Line devotes its attention to spreading the word about the music, venues and musicians that we are privileged to encounter during our travels across the country. We definitely spend a considerable amount of time along the Gulf Coast and Deep South region where an abundant amount of music exists.

Each year, we recognize a band or musician as our annual Music Artist of the Year. In 2014, we named the supergroup Willie Sugarcapps. Following a highly successful year, they were an easy choice. The same can be said of our 2015 choice, The Mulligan Brothers.

With the end of 2016 drawing to a close, we began considering a small number of musicians for this year’s selection. We have several things that factor into our process of choosing. To start, we want it to be someone our readers adore and embrace as fans. Also, we look for someone who has had a successful year based on an array of accomplishments. Sales and marketing of an artist doesn’t always play a part but creativity and connection to fans has much value to our final decision.

This year we have chosen someone who has not only had a productive year with the completion of “Mama’s Juke Book”, a successful tour of Europe, a 2016 European Blues Award nomination for Best Blues Vocalist, and she has continued to be a favorite of fans along her beloved Gulf Coast home.

Lisa Mills, a Mississippi native presently living in Alabama, has enjoyed a long successful career which has taken her around the world with opportunities to perform with some of music’s giants. Her music is a unique blend of southern roots, soul, gospel, a little country and rock & roll.

Mills’ latest, “Mama’s Juke Book” is her most personal release yet – a true love letter from daughter to mother. “Mama’s Juke Book” is comprised of songs Lisa found by chance among her late mother’s possessions. Within the pages of an old dollar store spiral notebook were more than two dozen handwritten lyrics of her mom’s favorite country songs from the early 1970’s. This beautiful find inspired Lisa to put this very special album together.

Presently the collectable version of Mama’s Juke Book called the “Angel Edition” can be purchased at Lisa’s shows until early 2017 when the album will be officially released.

Personally, I began to recognize Lisa’s tremendous talent, stage presence and showmanship much later than many of her longtime loyal and supportive fanbase. Once I started attending her shows and listening to her music, I quickly joined her legion of fans.

One of the things we at The Southland Music Line do to measure out reasons to why a certain music artist should be named is “their appreciation”. We can go to a Lisa Mills show and she truly displays her honest appreciation for all to enjoy. She frequently speaks personally to fans (who become friends) throughout the show and makes them feel at home.

When making a short list of those being considered, The Southland Music Line’s Stephen “Andy” Anderson, Robby Amonett, and I agreed she was to top this year’s list. We want to thank her for her incredible music, kind generosity and much appreciated friendship.

When I think of Lisa Mills, I can think of several positive things to say, but above all, I think of “heart”.