Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More than a Stereotype: Kentucky Greatness

Kentucky: World renowned for bourbon, bluegrass music, fried chicken, and college basketball. In fact, we have TWO teams battling the Final Four for a spot in the NCAA tournament, in case you've been under a rock ... or in another country. Not to mention a little thing called The Kentucky Derby.

Being a lifelong Kentuckian myself, I've heard it all. For whatever reason, people seem to think we're all backwoods hicks with outhouses and no education. While KY has had its struggles over the years, everyone always overlooks the good things from our great state.

Aside from basketball, we're known for a few other great things. With the release of The Hunger Games, actors Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence have found themselves in the limelight. And with the movie breaking records opening weekend, we're likely to see an explosion in their careers.

So why am I talking about that right now? Because both Hutcherson and Lawrence are Kentucky natives!

Many amazing, innovative, and world-changing individuals have at one time or another called Kentucky home. Among them are the following:

Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809-1865) –16th U.S. President, 1861-65. He successfully led his country through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War preserving the Union and ending slavery. Born in Hardin County, died in Washington, D.C.

George Clooney (May 6, 1961-) – Actor, director, producer and screenwriter. Clooney has balanced his performances in big-budget blockbusters with work as a producer and director, as well as social, liberal and political activism. The United Nations named Clooney a “Messenger of Peace” in 2008. Born in Lexington, grew up in Augusta.

Johnny Depp (June 9, 1963-) – Actor and musician known for his portrayals of offbeat, eccentric characters such as Jack Sparrow in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series. Born in Owensboro. (He's actually my cousin!)

Wynonna Judd (May 301964-) – Born Christian Claire Ciminella. Country music singer. Daughter Wynonna and mother Naomi rose to fame in the 1980s group “The Judds.” Wynonna began a solo career in 1991. Born in Ashland.

Brian Littrell (February 20, 1975-) Singer-songwriter; a member of the Backstreet Boys. He is also a contemporary Christian recording artist. Born in Lexington.

Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942) – Boxing gold medalist in 1960. Retired three-time World Heavyweight Champion. First person to win the lineal heavyweight championship three times. Born in Louisville.

Diane Sawyer (December 22, 1945-) - TV journalist/commentator for ABC and co-anchor of its morning news show. Named one of the 30 most powerful women in America. Born in Glasgow.

John T. Thompson (December 31, 1860-1940) - United States Army officer, inventor of the Thompson Machine Gun (tommy gun). Born in Newport, died in Great Neck, New York.
***Previous information found at: www.kentuckytourism.com

These are only a handful. We can't forget people like Loretta Lynn, Patty Loveless, John Michael Montgomery (all country music artists), Daniel Boone (explorer), Zachary Taylor (president), Clive Cussler (author), Jim Bowie (Hero at the Alamo, inventor of the Bowie knife), Jennifer Carpenter (actress), John Carpenter (film director), Tom Cruise (actor), Ashley Judd (actress), Annie Potts (actress), Nick Lachey (pop artist), and countless others who were born here or somehow left their mark. Think what you will about each person, but there's no denying they've lent a hand in making America what it is today.

For more on famous Kentuckians click here and here.

A handful of others are making their way up the ladder some of them you may know, others maybe not. I think you should all meet the next few people and keep an eye on their careers! One day soon, you'll see them making a splash.

Elizabeth Isaacs
: Up and coming writer and author of my all-time favorite YA series, The Kailmeyra Chronicles. She was born in Louisville and now lives in Lexington. For more about Beth and her incredible work, visit her site at www.elizabethisaacs.com

Todd Keisling
: Another incredible author and mastermind behind the novel A Life Transparent. Todd is a two-time recipient of the Oswald Research and Creativity Prize for fiction. Born in Kentucky, he now lives in Pennsylvania. Learn more about Todd at www.toddkeisling.com
Cage the Elephant: When Cage the Elephant released their self-titled debut in 2009, they were heralded as saviors of slacker funk-punk thanks to their hit “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.” Hailing from Bowling Green, these guys have toured the globe and even made a song-stop on the CW series, The Vampire Diaries. Find them here www.cagetheelephant.com

Luke Asher: Indie, folk singer and Louisville native, Luke Asher provides a smooth combination of evocative lyrics and soul-moving melody. He's one of the biggest influences in my own writing. Had it not been for his haunting music, my story would've turned out completely different. Follow Luke on Facebook here and listen to the awesomeness that is his genius here.

Julie Kagawa: Brilliant author of the phenomenal Iron Fey series and the up and coming Immortal Rules, Julie now lives in Lousiville. Julie's books have repeatedly reached the top of the best-sellers lists! Find Julie at her website www.juliekagawa.com

Kelly Creagh: A new author, again hailing from Louisville, who restored my faith in excellent writing. Kelly's young-adult novel Nevermore is a brilliantly well-written novel based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe. A must read for dark paranormal lovers. Kelly hang here at http://kellycreagh.com

Here's to Kentucky being full of awesome! Who are some of your favorites from the Bluegrass state?

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