LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. — Matthew McConaughey and Wild Turkey are recognizing individuals who kept their local music scenes alive with a series of $10,000 donations to community-based music initiatives of their choice. Wild Turkey’s Creative Director and the iconic bourbon brand teamed up to honor five “Local Legends” who supported music endeavors that helped their communities thrive during an exceptionally trying time.
This is the fifth year that Matthew McConaughey and Wild Turkey have come together during the holiday season to honor the local music scenes, recognize and reward everyday heroes.
As a nod to Wild Turkey’s new Trust Your Spirit campaign, the legendary American Whiskey brand selected Local Legends who demonstrated courage, conviction, and confidence no matter what. These bold, selfless individuals showed up for the music scene in extraordinary ways – whether raising funds for furloughed or unemployed musicians, offering virtual music lessons, or organizing benefit concerts.
To celebrate these selfless acts, each Local Legend – Jason Eskridge and Justin Branam, both of Nashville, Jess Garland of Dallas, Melissa A. Weber of New Orleans, and Justin Fedor of Charlotte – received a $10,000 donation to the music-centric charity of choice as a way to continue uplifting their local music community.
- Jason Eskridge is a former NASA mechanical engineer who left to pursue his true passion in music. Now a prominent figure in the R&B and urban Nashville scene, Eskridge created a community of diversity when he began Sunday Night Soul, a bi-monthly, performance event spotlighting soul artists in Nashville. Eskridge stood by his mission and retooled the event to be streamed virtually during the pandemic. His $10,000 will be donated to the Nashville Arts and Business Council to benefit Your Song, a collaborative songwriting program that connects performing arts centers, musicians, and artists with vulnerable communities to promote healing and community connectedness.
- Jess Garland is a filmmaker and local musician in Dallas who turned her personal history into incredible storytelling songs. Understanding the emotional, therapeutic power of music, she formed the non-profit Swan Strings, which brings free music lessons to Dallas residents. She is also the Executive Director of another music-centric non-profit, Girls Rock Dallas. For her $10,000 donation, she has selected Deep Ellum 100, an organization that provides financial grants to musicians affected by the pandemic.
- Justin Branam is the Program Director for Musicians Corner, a program of Centennial Park Conservancy, a nonprofit organization in Nashville that aims to preserve, enhance, and share the Parthenon and Centennial Park. During COVID, Justin and his team at Musicians Corner worked diligently to provide virtual experiences, keeping the safety of audiences top of mind while still finding ways to provide entertainment to their community and spotlight musicians and local small businesses. Justin has selected Musicians Corner to receive his $10,000 donation.
- Justin Fedor is a singer, guitarist, and benefit concert organizer in Charlotte, NC. Since 2013, Justin has organized the biannual concert series, Tribute to Benefit, which raises tens of thousands for local charitable causes. During the pandemic, Fedor enlisted his community to create a virtual John Prine Tribute and another Tribute to Black Artists. Fedor has selected DrumsForCures to receive his $10,000 donation. Several times over the years, DrumsForCures has matched funds with Tribute to Benefit to double the donations to local non-profits. DrumsForCures produces DRUMSTRONG events raising awareness and funds in support of cancer survivorship, education and research through facilitated interactive rhythm experiences globally.
- Melissa A. Weber—aka DJ Soul Sister—is a longtime New Orleans resident and locally renowned dance party host. She’s credited as the first to implement a vaccine mandate at her New Orleans dance parties, where she spins classic funk. She has chosen to split her $10,000 donation evenly between the New Orleans Musicians Clinic and Assistance Foundation, which provides medical care and social services to local artists, and Backstreet Cultural Museum, which preserves and documents local music-oriented cultures of Mardi Gras Indians, social aid and pleasure clubs, jazz funerals, and other Black New Orleans cultural traditions.
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