This year, the Oklahoma music scene awoke from a slumber and exploded into the national spotlight. From folk to country to rap to punk, our great state sent it all into the great unknown this year - with staggering success. Many are making names for themselves, and some already are and aspire to even more success. We celebrate some of the best and brightest star power.
He's got a jetpack on his back. This Okemah-area native enjoys the parapatetic ways of another famous Okemah-raised musician: Woody Guthrie. Fullbright's sharp, insightful folk stylings earned the 24-year-old a Grammy nomination this year for his debut, full-length studio album, "From the Ground Up." He's been on the road nearly all year, building his career in the same way. He's won praise from National Public Radio and American Songwriter magazine.
Tulsa hip-hopper Johnny Polygon's built quite the fan base in recent years - and now mainstream media is taking notice. MSN charts him as one of five artists we need to know.
He claims New York and LA as his work base, but T-Town is his home, where he grew up doing rap battles and participating in local theater groups.
He's worked with Russell Simmons (Def Jam), THURZ, Nas, Kid CuDi, Amanda Diva and Dead Prez, among others.
Born John Armour, Polygon is working on a new album with a not-safe-for-work title, expected out in 2013.
Tulsa singer-songwriter Jesse Aycock says there's sometimes a cosmic energy that brings things together exactly when they're supposed to. "I couldn't have planned this," he said recently.
Aycock is adding the finishing touches to an album he recorded at Church Studio earlier this year. It includes a constellation of stars - several of them his idols. Two - multi-instrumentalist Neal Casal and drummer George Sluppick - are part of The Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Other guests on Aycock's album include Tulsa Sound icon and drummer Jimmy Karstein, Los Lobos guitarist David Hidalgo, Boondogs member Indy Grotto, longtime Tulsa bassist Eric Arndt and Little Rock studio wizard Jason Weinheimer. Look for him to break into the national scene with this break-out album.
After making a name for herself by working to make others more famous, Muskogee native, former Tulsa resident and hip-hop musician, producer and singer-songwriter Ester Dean is prepping her own debut studio album release for 2013. She wrote the hit song "We Are," which was also featured in the U.S. Olympic Team's official video.
Dean's also written or co-written for artists including Britney Spears, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Katy Perry, Usher, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Kelly Rowland, Trey Songz, Ciara and Christina Aguilera.
The Damn Quails
Check out the newest Stillwater-tied Red Dirt-tinged act, The Damn Quails. The rich sounds of soul, blues, country, folk and even rock swell from this cohesive mix and its debut album, "Down the Hatch." The Quails are an effort between singer-songwriters Gabriel Marshall and Bryon White, and cohorts Biggie, Jon Knudson, Luke Mullenix, Tom Young, Steve Baker Their latest album was produced by Red Dirt icon Mike McClure and Joe Hardy.
The Okemah-raised country gal believes in family. So much so that her pops and uncle play in her band, which was recently signed to Warner Music Entertainment in Nashville.
She's "into another realm" of touring and bookings, she said. The WME roster includes Blake Shelton, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift and Darius Rucker. Her latest singles "Sounds Like a Party," "Waiting on Sunrise" and "Fire in the Desert" have all hit radio.
Oklahoma alt-rock stalwart Tyson Meade, formerly of '90s glam-punk-rockers Chainsaw Kittens and Defenestration, went to school this year. Literally. He launched a successful Kickstarter to raise money for his upcoming album - the first in a decade. Meade is collaborating on a new album with high school and college students in Shanghai, China, where he lived and taught for years. It's his love for both countries that spawned his creative rebirth.
This Tulsa-based punk rebel-rouser is coming off tour stops with Social Distortion and JD McPherson. They're raging the college music charts, had a fistful of showcase dates at last year's South by Southwest music festival in Austin and have toured non-stop all year. Radio has been "really, really good" to the proto-punk act this year, too, Broncho guitarist Johnathon Ford said.
One of our top picks from last year, Broken Arrow's JD McPherson has exploded onto the national stage this year with performances on nearly every major late-night show, an international tour, praise from Rolling Stone to NPR and his album, "Signs & Signifiers" was named the most-radio-played Americana album of 2012, beating the likes of Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett.