Breanna Faith, pictured, is among nominees for female vocalist of the year at the inaugural Who's Hoo? 2022 Country Music Awards Show at the Commons in Columbus on Saturday, November 19. Photo credit: Submitted.
Breanna Faith, pictured, is among nominees for female vocalist of the year at the inaugural Who's Hoo? 2022 Country Music Awards Show at the Commons in Columbus on Saturday, November 19. Photo credit: Submitted.

Editor's Note: A BIG change to Saturday's lineup has been announced. Due to illness, Jesse Keith Whitley will be unable to attend. In his place, Night Owl friend and TV legend Tom Wopat will present David Frizzell with the Who's Hoo? 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award and open for the legend following the awards ceremony. For additional information and updates, follow NOCB on Facebook or check them out at NightOwlCB.com.

When the Night Owl Country Band launched their weekly “Who’s Hoo?” podcast just about one year ago, the guys didn’t anticipate the show being the genesis for the band’s own independent international awards show. However, as the Top 10 became the Top 21 the only way left to go was forward and the first annual “Who’s Hoo?” 2022 Country Music Award Show will debut at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Commons, located at 300 Washington St., in Columbus.

The party leading into the award’s show kicks off Friday night with a pre-party celebration beginning at 7 p.m. at the #741 Eagles, located at 930 Washington St., in Columbus.

The first of its kind in the area, NOCB lead singer Matt Lee says this is a huge event.

“We’ve partnered with the Landmark Columbus Foundation and the Columbus Indiana Visitors Center,” Lee says. “We are doing everything we can for our inaugural to let everyone know this is a legit awards show. We want to do our part to pat the back of other independent artists who are out here traveling, doing the best they can and trying to get music out there.”

According to the Night Owls’ official web site, the award show will feature “the best of international, independent country artists” and there will be awards given to "country artists from all over the world,” including locales such as Canada and Italy. A panel of eight judges, four of which are the Night Owl guys, will decide the winners for a variety of categories, including female vocalist, male vocalist, country rising star, and album of the year, Lee explains.

“All the categories have between five and 10 nominees each, except song of the year, which has 21 nominees,” Lee says. “And there are 21 nominees for that category because Who’s Hoo? is a Top 21 show.”

Country solo artists Breanna Faith and Jennifer Mlott, who are also members of the International Singer-Songwriters Association, are among those nominated for female vocalist of the year, Lee says.

Among the awards given that evening will be the first Who’s Hoo? Lifetime Achievement Award and its recipient is a true country legend, David Frizzell.

In a recent phone interview, Frizzell expressed his surprise and humble gratitude for the honor.

Frizzell’s career started at the tender age of nine when he began touring with his late brother, Lefty Frizzell, a country music great. During what Frizzell describes as “big package” Sunday shows, the young Frizzell rubbed elbows and shared time and space with country legends that included Johnny Cash and George Jones. All the greats who Frizzell readily calls his heroes.

He expressed gratitude for his late brother, the memories they shared and how all those experiences – taken together – helped shape he and his career.

“I’ve just been blessed to do that and have the opportunity, which was provided by my big brother Lefty,” Frizzell says. “That is how you learn; you watch everyone else. I remember my brother telling me, ‘Learn everything you can from everybody you are watching. But at the end of the day, we don’t need another Johnny Cash, because there is already a Johnny Cash. We need a David Frizzell.’ and when I got a chance to do it, I did. I was a great student, but I had some incredible teachers. I miss them every day.”

As he preps to make the journey from Texas to Indiana this weekend, Frizzell says his passion for music is essentially part of his hardwiring. Early on there was no doubt in his mind he wanted to be a singer/songwriter and Frizzell says Lefty, who was his biggest supporter, offered him the tools required for success, but at no time did he ever try to force him to move in one direction or another.

“Thanks to him, Lefty never told me I couldn’t do something,” Frizzell says. “Lefty was the one who actually made a huge name for himself and opened the door for so many of us that wanted to walk through, I was the one who walked through.”

And now, Frizzell – who was most recently inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame in August -- says he shares his lessons with those up-and-coming artists who will one day themselves carry the torch onward and upward.

There is nothing more important than figuring out where one is going and what they want to do when they get there. Essentially, it comes down to intention, he says.

Frizzell’s Saturday performance will be a blend of original favorites, including “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma” and “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home,” and songs made famous by his heroes, including the late Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash.

Lee says the red-carpet portion of the show begins at 1 p.m. and the award show follows at 2:30 p.m.

“After we announce the entertainer of the year, there will be a special concert for all the attendees who come,” Lee says. “Tom Wopat will be opening for David Frizzell. We wanted to have a song of a legend and have a legend be involved also.”

Every inaugural event comes with kinks and Lee anticipates this show to be no different, but it is the natural progression of things.

“I know we will have hiccups with it being the first year,” Lee says. “I think with the team I have working with me; it is going to turn out really smooth and I really think it is going to be a great turnout. I think it is great we are going to have something international come to the area.”