Meet the Nominees: Artist of the Year

Artist of the Year 2022 Interstate Music Awards


With voting for the 2022 Interstate Music Awards in full swing, we wanted to go "behind the music" and share a bit about who each nominee is personally. Get to know the nominees below, and don't forget to cast your vote!

Alexis Wilkins — Nashville, TN

With hooks that stick in your head for days, Alexis Wilkins has more than proven her ability as a songwriter. In addition, she has a remarkable natural talent with her crisp, expressive voice that makes any of her songs truly touching for the listener. Alexis is able to create new-wave country sounds with a classic country spirit, giving her music distinct character.

Quick Facts:Alexis Wilkins

  • Multiple charity/fundraiser-based projects throughout career
  • Spent time living in multiple countries growing up
  • Also an accomplished actress and writer

Some highlights from our interview with Alexis Wilkins:
What’s your first step when working on a new song?
“I tend to start with titles. When you walk into a writing room, everyone has some sort of ideas, but for me, I have to have a title. I have to know where we’re going.”

What’s something that’s important to you as a musician?
“A lot of people are musicians. And when you do this, and people are impacted by it, that really means the most.”

How do you write songs that are able to resonate with other people?
“It’s such an empathy thing, you know, just trying to share your perspectives with others. And I try to do that intentionally in my music, I want it to be for everyone who listens to it. I want everyone to be able to stand at a concert and say, ‘I felt that.’”


Buffalo Rose — Pittsburg, PA

Made up of six world-class musicians from vastly different backgrounds, Buffalo Rose puts an imaginative twist on modern folk and Americana. The group’s chemistry translates into their music, with their performances looking more like friends just having fun on stage. Looking to make appearances in folk festivals across the country this year, Buffalo Rose is on a straight path to success.

Quick Facts:Buffalo Rose

  • Member backgrounds include folk, jazz, rock, and R&B
  • Members range in age from 20s-40s
  • Signed to MISRA Records

Some highlights from our interview with Buffalo Rose:
What inspires your group to create?
“Since we all come from very different musical backgrounds, this is always a difficult question to answer. I think we all are inspired by the prospect of making music that moves people - music is such a powerful force in all of our lives, and the idea of really connecting with people through this medium is exciting to us.”

Where did Buffalo Rose start?
“About 5 years ago, we all were performing with different bands around Pittsburgh. We were playing rock, folk, R&B, jazz. Eventually, we found each other, and started playing together as Buffalo Rose as a sort of side project. But soon the side project was taking off more than our main gigs, and was way more fun, so we decided to run with it!”

How has the group achieved such strong chemistry?
“We as band members have a very real sense of love for one another, and that love is always present throughout our performances. We just have fun together.”


Dustin Chapman — Whiteville, NC

Although he’s only 24 years old, Dustin Chapman has the voice of a seasoned country music veteran. Booming from his chest, his vocals have a deep, rich quality, and with his outstanding pitch control, Dustin Chapman’s voice is not one you’ll be forgetting anytime soon. Born and raised in a small town, he notices (and writes his songs about) the little things in life that make us human.

Quick Facts:Dustin Chapman

  • American Idol alum
  • World Songwriting Award winner
  • Often performs and records with his niece, Ryleigh Madison

Some highlights from our interview with Dustin Chapman:
Have you felt some level of success already?
“I’m the type of person where I don’t bask in it. It’s time to move on to the next thing, time to do this or that. I’m constantly working, I never stop.”

How have you handled struggles in your career?
“For me, I’ve always said that whatever I went through — medically, personally, or whatever — I’ve always wanted to use my story, my testimony, to inspire and uplift others. A big part of that for me is my songwriting.”

What’s it like to be on the brink of realizing your goals?
“It’s taken years, I’ve been doing this since I was 14. So, it’s gratifying and rewarding, but it’s also humbling at the same time, because I’m from the smallest of small towns. So I’m just trying to expand my outreach as much as possible.”


Ethon Dorrity & Briglyn Buckway — Ogden, UT

When lifetime church singer Briglyn Buckway wanted to finally record a song, she made a wise choice in reaching out to her friend, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Ethon Dorrity. With Briglyn carrying the vocals, and Ethon covering all of the instrumental bases, they combine to create an interesting and exceptional hard rock sound with a soft vocal complement.

Quick Facts:Ethon Dorrity and Briglyn Buckway

  • Ethon is a musician, singer, and composer
  • Both only 21 years old
  • Ethon is both a classical and heavy metal enthusiast

Some highlights from our interview with Ethon & Briglyn:
Briglyn, has anyone in particular been an inspiration in your music career?
“Honestly, growing up with Ethon and seeing him be able to play so many different instruments sparked my desire to become more musically inclined. Then seeing all his hard work play out in his own recording studio has inspired me the most.”

Ethon, what made this cover significant for you?
“This cover of ‘Beautiful Beautiful’ reflects my love of several styles of music including rock, orchestral, and pop. I composed a guitar solo for the song that would fit the character of the song, as well as satisfy my inner metal head.”

Ethon, how did you master so many instruments?
“Well, it started when my best friend learned to play piano really well in elementary school. I was inspired by his skills and learned to play the piano. Then in middle school I heard rock music and I loved it. I saved up and bought my first electric guitar, and learned to play some classics. I learned to play the drums in high school and competed nationally with it. I slowly learned other instruments and saved up to have an amateur recording studio.”


Kryssy Samson — Honolulu, HI

Although she brings a softer tone to rock and alternative, Kryssy Samson delivers her masterfully written songs with a chill-inducing edge. Playing with perspective when she writes her lyrics, her music often exhibits the darker side of life — a stark contrast to her bright and positive personality. With a deep-rooted love for 1990s-2000s rock, Kryssy consistently writes new songs with a timeless sound.

Quick Facts:Kryssy Samson

  • Multiple years performing on international cruise ships
  • Completely self-taught
  • Originally from Calgary, now based in Hawaii

Some highlights from our interview with Kryssy Samson:
Can you tell me about your last few years music-wise?
“I moved to Seattle In 2016 to focus on songwriting and recorded my first professional EP, and then went to perform professionally on international cruise ships for a few years. I am now settled back in Hawaii performing and writing regularly, and even taking proper music theory lessons to truly understand the deeper concepts behind writing and playing.”

How do you infuse authenticity into your music?
“There’s something about art in itself — and this is gonna sound a little pretentious — but art is our truth a lot of the time. You can’t really fake a feeling when you’re making art if you’re being genuine. And it’s hard not to be.”

Has perspective writing impacted how listeners receive your songs?
“The fun part about music is that it’s fully up for interpretation. Someone can listen to something and decide what it means to them, whether it makes them feel something good, or feel something bad. If you feel something, I’m for it.”


Remember to cast your vote once a day until April 30th!