Written by Abstract Samm
Georgia has developed a reputation for being the “Hollywood of the South” after many years of serving as the backdrop for prominent Hollywood Films like Forrest Gump and The Blind Side. It’s not hard to see why people consider this area to be a little slice of southern paradise. Along with hosting a wide array of famous stars over the years, Georgia has produced its fair share as well. Musicians from every genre imaginable were born right here in the peach state and we here at Savannah Sip N’ Cycle are so stoked to share some home state pride with a list showing off why we are ready to show off where we came from.
Let’s start by pumping our own ego and talk about those who hail from Savannah specifically and then make way through Atlanta. From Yung Joc to Zac Brown, we like to cover all genres here in the South, so grab yourself a glass of sweet tea and enjoy these ten musicians that were born in Savannah and Atlanta Georgia.
Savannah Born Musicians:
When traveling through Savannah, seeing this name on street signs and buildings is no surprise to locals. Whether you’re driving down Johnny Mercer Blvd or going to see a show at the Johnny Mercer Theater (housed inside of the Civic Center), the name is not one you can forget easily. Along with writing his own music, Mercer also wrote the lyrics for over 1,000 other songs and shows. After receiving 19 Oscars nominations and taking home 4 for Best Original Song, he is most remembered for hits like “Moon River” and “Hooray for Hollywood”. We here in Savannah are proud to say that Johnny Mercer grew up walking these same streets.
Though he was raised in Rincon, Billy Currington was born right here in Savannah and is best known for his country hits like “Good Directions” and “Must be doin somethin right” along with duets alongside the likes of Shania Twain. Not only does he hold the spot for “Hottest Video of the year” but was nominated for a Grammy in 2010. Who would have thought that sort of talent could come from little bitty Rincon?
Antwan André Patton, known by most as Big Boi, is best remembered as one half of the iconic duo Outkast. Though he spent a large part of his upbringing in Savannah (even attending Herschel V. Jenkins High School), he eventually moved to Atlanta where he teamed up with André 3000. Along with his Outkast work, he went on to release a number of singles and even developed an acting career in the process. Featured in episodes of shows such as King of The Hill and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, along with many cameos, Big Boi is more than just half of Outkast and we are happy to claim him.
Though a last name is seemingly unimportant in this introduction, Nivea Hamilton (who is recognized easily by her first name alone) is a Savannah Native who gave us the Grammy nominated hit “Don’t Mess With my Man” and went on to create three studio albums. Starting out singing with her gospel choir, she has stated that Mariah Carey was a huge influence in the early days. Nivea’s latest album, “Mirrors” was released just last year (2019) featuring the single “Circles”.
Atlanta Born Musicians:
If you’ve ever “Rocked Around the Christmas Tree” then you have experienced the fantastic Brenda Lee. Born in Atlanta in 1944, this classic rockabilly musician has been a household name for well over 50 years and will continue to grace our radio stations as long as Christmas is celebrated. As the ONLY woman to be featured as a member of both the Rock and Roll and Country Music Halls of Fame, Georgia is happy to have hosted her early life. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee and is still kicking butt at 75 years old.
A household name across the country, André 3000 is originally from Atlanta. Best known for being listed as one half of the duo Outkast, André was also named as one of the Top 10 Rappers of all time by Billboard listings. Who could possibly forget when he told everyone to “Shake it like a Polaroid picture” back in 2003? He has since gone on win 7 Grammy awards while being nominated for at least 10 more. Along with his own musical career, like Big Boi, he has spent a large portion of his career acting. Playing major movie roles like Jimi Hendrix in Jimi: All is by My Side and even some recurring parts on TV shows, André 3000 is one of those entertainers that just won’t quit, and we would never want him to.
Jasiel Robinson, loved as Yung Joc is a hip hop musician straight out of Atlanta, is best known for his 2006 banger “It’s goin’ down” and feature on the Danity Kane single “Showstopper” and is the founder of Swagg Team Entertainment. Along with being a part of major hits like “Get Like Me” and “So Fly”, he later went on to join the VH1 reality television series “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta” as one of the supporting cast members, later becoming one of the lead roles. Many award nominations and one win later, he is still an active member of the entertainment community.
Though he was raised in Lake Lanier, Zac Brown was originally born in Atlanta and is the lead singer and co-founder of the Zac Brown Band. “Chicken Fried”, the group’s first hit was nominated for many awards and even won a couple of them, along with the duet “As She’s Walking Away” that features Alan Jackson. Along with being able to work with a variety of country musicians, over the years, this band was allowed the privilege of opening for acts like Dave Matthews and was even featured in the “Earth” music video by Lil Dicky as a cartoon cow. Zac Brown is not just a country music machine but a philanthropy enthusiast. At one time, he was a camp counselor and believes in the positive effect that summer camp can have on the life of a child. Because of this, he founded Camp Southern Grown in Fayetteville, Georgia, a location that is still thriving today. Cheers to Zac Brown for helping out the locals once he made it big.
There’s no way we could leave T.I. out of the list of Georgia natives, considering he starred in the 2006 flick ATL, which was loosely based on his personal life story. Being one of the major names who popularized the sub-genre known as “Trap Music”, he initially reached a level of success by signing on to his first major deal in the late 90’s with LaFace Records (a unit of Sony Entertainment based in Atlanta) and later went on to be a founding member of P$C with fellow Atlanta rappers C-Rod, Big Kuntry King, and Mac Boney in 2001. After releasing his debut album with Arista Records, he kept going with the founding of Grand Hustle Records (formerly Grand Hustle Entertainment) who now operates independently. In 2003, T.I. made waves by being featured on the track “Never Scared” with Atlanta based creator Bone Crusher. He has since continued to release countless hits.
“What You Know” and “Whatever you Like” are just two of the major tracks that T.I. has blessed us with and has collaborated with artists all over the board, from Justin Timberlake to Rihanna and back. Outside of his work as a musician, he is known for having been an executive producer of multiple projects including his company, Grand Hustle Films.
While she is most easily remembered for her role as Raven Baxter on the early 00’s Disney Channel television series “That’s So Raven” and movie series “The Cheetah Girls”, Atlanta native Raven-Symoné has been a part of the music scene from the time she was seven years old, signing on with RCA records, while taking vocal lessons from Missy Elliot. Her debut album “Here’s To New Dreams” featured the single “That’s What Little Girls are Made Of” that reached number 68 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1993 despite the album not being successful overall. By 1999, Raven released a second album, “Undeniable”, which featured a cover of Stevie Wonder’s classic track “With A Child’s Heart” and went on tour with N’Sync to promote the piece. Four years later, in 2003, she covered another Stevie Wonder song (Superstition) for the soundtrack to Disney’s: The Haunted Mansion before releasing an EP with Hollywood Records of her own music. Along with being featured as a musician in a variety of Disney Films like The Princess Diaries 2, Ice Princess and The Lion King ½, she has spent a fair amount of time working on theater pieces and eventually revealed to have participated in the reality show The Masked Singer, playing the role of the “Black Widow” for the competition. After over 30 years in the mainstream entertainment industry, she has released a new EP titled “Infrasounds” that shows just how much range she has as a creator. From child star actress to music making boss, we look forward to seeing what comes out of this classic content creator for years to come.
Now we couldn’t make this list without showing a bit of love to the Independent musicians currently braving the scene here in Savannah. Here at Savannah Sip N’ Cycle, one of our favorite parts about being in the city is just how musically fueled the area is. So if you’re looking to discover a band before the rest of the country hops on board, give a listen to these up-and-coming entertainers to get a feel for why we go out every weekend.
Led by songwriter and bassist Rachael Shaner, this trio is known throughout the city as one of the greatest live shows you will ever see. If a mix of soul and jazz sounds like something you’d be into, Lulu The Giant is worth a listen (or ten).
Eric Culberson has been a regular name in the Savannah blues scene the 80’s and continues to rock out around the area every chance he gets. Look for he and his band regularly at venues like the Bayou Cafe and El Rocko’s Lounge, you won’t have to look too hard, guaranteed.
Progressive metal at its absolute finest, Knightsquatch is a more than just a local band, they are an entire experience. With a sound that truly showcases the vast talents of each member, they have a huge cult following already and can be found frequenting locations like El Rocko’s Lounge.
Known for having a sound similar to Coheed and Cambria, DTC actually hails from Albany, Georgia but loves to perform in Savannah as often as they can. Look out for them at various areas in the state but have been seen time and time again at Rachel’s Bar and Grill.