Richelle receives 2020 Literary Fellowship in Fiction
from Mississippi Arts Commission!
Read Press Release
Richelle's song, "Come With Me,"
receives Honorable Mention from
American Songwriter Magazine, July/August 2020 issue
Richelle receives 2019 Excellence Award for her essay, "Educated," in English Composition I
from Western Governors University.
Mississippi and the Great Depression - nominee for the 2018 Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters Award, Non-Fiction category. See nominees here
Mississippi and the Great Depression - a bronze medal recipient in the 2017 Foreword INDIES Book Awards, Regional Category. See all finalists & winners here
The Inspiring Life of Eudora Welty receives the Silver Medal in the 2014 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards in the ebook non-fiction category. See all winners here.
The Inspiring Life of Eudora Welty - nominee for the 2014 Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters Award, Non-Fiction category.
The Inspiring Life of Eudora Welty - nominee for the 2014 Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters Award, Non-Fiction category.
Richelle receives 2014 Literary Fellowship in Fiction from Mississippi Arts Commission!
Read Press Release!
copyright © 2020
written and performed by Richelle Putnam
(Richelle Putnam - vocals, guitar, piano)
Richelle Putnam is listed on the Mississippi Arts Commission Artist/Teaching Artist Roster, and the Mississippi Humanities Speaker Board. She is a recipient of a 2014 and 2021 Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. A graduate of Gotham Writers of New York’s Memoir Certificate program and Fiction Certificate program, she holds diplomas from The Institute of Children’s Literature, Open College for the Arts Advanced Writing Program, Writers Digest, and other accredited writing institutions, such as the University of Iowa. She has taught Creative Writing at Meridian Community College and through libraries, schools and online. Her writing awards include Writers Digest, Writers Journal, World Wide Writers, New Millennium, and more. Richelle’s songs and lyrics have been awarded by American Songwriter Magazine, Mike Pinder’s Songwars, UK Songwriting Competition, Billboard World Song Contest, and Song of the Year. They have also been featured on IRADIO LA, Band Radio, Midnight Special Blues Radio, Dr. Lou and the House of Blues Hour, Women of Substance Radio, Radio Crystal Blue, Acoustic Fuel, Pongid, WomensRadio, Skope Magazine Radio and more. Her lyrics have placed in four American Songwriter Magazine Songwriting Contests and was a 2nd place winner featured in the magazine and on their website. She co-wrote the play, Women of Potta Chitto, and a nine-song soundtrack , with Ralph Gordon, which is a historical play set during the Civil War. She also co-wrote Was It Worth It?, a one-act play, which features William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, and Muna Lee. Her literary work has been published in Common Ties, Pif Magazine, The Copperfield Review, Birmingham Arts Journal and three bestselling series: A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Daughters and A Cup of Comfort for Christmas Prayer and A Cup of Comfort Twelve Days of Christmas and more and was also chosen for The Copperfield Review’s 10th Anniversary Celebration Anthology. She is the managing editor and writer for The Bluegrass Standard and has written for Town & Gown Magazine, Mississippi Magazine, eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI, Parents & Kids, Well Being, Portico, and Social South magazines. History Press commissioned her to write Lauderdale County, Mississippi; a Brief History, released in November 2011. She co-authored Legendary Locals of Meridian, Mississippi (Arcadia Publishing) with June Davidson, released October 2013. Her young-adult nonfiction book The Inspiring Life of Eudora Welty, published by History Press April 2014, received the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Silver Medal in YA non-fiction ebook and was nominated for the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award, non-fiction category. Her book, Mississippi and The Great Depression, released November 13, 2017 ), was nominated for the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters award, non-fiction category and is a bronze medal winner in the 2017 Foreword Indies Book Awards in the Regional non-fiction category. She is currently working on another non-fiction book project with the History Press of Mississippi to be co-authored with author/artist Dianne Williams. Richelle was commissioned by the Mississippi Secretary of State to write the East Central section of the Bicentennial Mississippi History Book to celebrate Mississippi's 200 years as a state, which has been released for download!
Click here for the Love Light interview with Dr. Jean Farish on Voice America Empowerment/VoiceAmerica Internet Radio
Jodie Engle of the Mississippi Arts Commission also interviewed Richelle Putnam on the The Arts Hour, Mississippi Public Broadcasting.
My story begins long ago when I joined an amazing group of musicians who believed in me as an artist. My song, "Only a Dream" was the first song to be recorded in their studio in the 70s. From that point on, we created much music together. Moreso, we developed everlasting friendships. I'll forever be indebted to these guys who believed, not only in their dreams, but in mine. Time passes, but memories remain. From those memories, stories develop. But only through sharing those stories will they remain with us always.
In 1996, with all the kids in school, I began a serious writing career with my first writing course through the Institute of Children's Literature. I had a long, long way to go. Though I'd always written poetry and stories, all stored in file folders and stashed away in the closet, I had no idea of how to go about editing pieces, preparing manuscripts, finding submission guidelines, submitting to publishers, accepting and understanding rejection, and staying focused and determined. After I took my first writing course, I took a second and third, and so on. I attended writers conferences and workshops and became a volunteer at writing events, and met so many amazing writers, editors and agents who helped me along the way. I worked my way up in the ranks to become a conference coordinator for Southern Breeze, a chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Through determination and perseverance, my short stories, poetry and book manuscripts found publication. I sought advice from other state writers organizations, because Mississippi didn't have a statewide organization. Thus, my next dream began.
This dream began is 2002. Working closely with the Florida Writers Association, I learned what it would take to start a statewide writers organization and what it took to be a 501c3 non-profit. For a year, I corresponded with three other writers who were interested in helping pursue the organization. Two of the three had to pull out, but Keetha DePriest Mosley, hung in there to continue the dream. In Meridian, I invited writer Anne McKee to join the founding forces. I obtained the attorney to file the corporation papers and bylaws and in 2005 Mississippi Writers Guild was incorporated. In 2007 it was approved for a 501c3 non-profit status. Though the MWG founding board was Keetha, Anne and me, the first board, which included Ralph Gordon, Daniel Lee and Virginia Dawkins, carried the Guild to the next level. Without them, success would not have happened. Since then, MWG has provided many writing workshops, events and conferences. Please take time to visit Mississippi Writers Guild and become a part of a growing institution of writers.
In 2006, I was accepted to the Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC) Artist Roster and in 2008, I was accepted to the Mississippi Arts Commission Teaching Artist Roster. Since then, I have enjoyed working with teachers, arts specialists, and other teaching artists in integrating arts into education. I have participated in special training sessions, including the SPED initiative made possible through a partnership between MAC and The John F. Kennedy Center. More importantly, I have worked with incredible students of all ages, from Pre-K to high school students, integrating drama, poetry, songwriting, and story into curriculum to meet Common Core Standards. Becoming a graduate of the Parent Learning Institute through Parents for Public Schools was a great challenge, but an incredible opportunity to learn more about education from the inside out, what's expected of teachers, what's expected of students and how active parents can help change and mold their children's schools into successful learning institutions. This has probably been the most rewarding part of my artist life.
In 2010, I was accepted onto the Mississippi Humanities Speaker Board. As a Humanities Speaker, I often talk about story and how to develop your voice and your style. Storytelling is as ancient as history itself. We are created to tell stories so our story lives on. Preserving stories is nothing new in Mississippi, but it's important to preserve them on paper so they do live forever. My desire as a Humanities Speaker is to encourage people to tell their stories, preserve their stories and support efforts in their community to archive stories so generations to come may know what it was like 100 years before their existence. My goal is to teach how to tell and write your stories in a way that allows readers to experience the story as an active participant. In other words, revealing your story scene by scene rather than just telling your story. In this photo I am performing "Ballad of Meridian," the song I wrote specifically for the City of Meridian's sesquicentennial celebration. This song was a top winner in City Love's "Song About a City" and was included on the "Song About a City" CD. Forging productive, prosperous futures is impossible without knowing the past and "the truth" about how we arrived at where we are today. The past is nothing to fear, but something to ponder and come to terms with to fully realize its potential power over us. Hiding the past doesn't change it, but empowers it to rule over us forever.
Becoming a published author is every writer's dream, but all too often the long journey that goes along with the dream is not taken into consideration. The trek can be exhausting and the disappointments along the way stifle creativity, confidence and initiative--if you are ONLY looking at the goal, rather then the journey. What helped me on my trek to publishing was using my journey and every step along the way as a learning experience to be cherished and shared with others. I learned that the journey is never over, just like learning never ends. So, don't hurry your journey. Enjoy the scenery along the way. Meet people. Take detours. Don't miss out on learning opportunities. Stop, look, and above all listen! For only when you listen, will you hear the great stories you are destined to write.
The amazing thing about being an artist in any category is being able to continue in your art form at any age. I've been blessed over the years to meet and remain close friends with so many amazing musicians, songwriters, and writers. They have always encouraged me and supported me as I do them. Being a successful and prosperous artist is really tough, which makes having trustworthy, supportive friends crucial in staying in this business. Every Wednesday night, some of us get together just play music...nothing else...just play and sing and visit. These moments keep me going.
You never dream just one dream . There are many. Some, however, are harder to pursue, harder to make come true. But not impossible. In May 2019, I started college. I was 66 years old. My target: a BS Marketing Management degree. No, I'm not changing directions ...well, sort of, but there is logical reasoning in pursuing this seemingly unrelated field to the writing, editing , and publishing world. This BS degree will not only allow me the tools to best market myself as an artist and my songs, stories and books as my products, it will allow me to assist other artists and arts organizations in doing the same. Onward!
There is one person in my life who always believed in me, my dreams, and my ability to accomplish all things, supporting me completely through the lean years and endless hours of pursuit--my husband, Tim. He allowed me to see love for what it truly is: selfless, trusting, without envy, without ultimatums, without boundaries. The strongest person I've ever known, he is a two-time cancer survivor and survivor of MRSA staph septic shock. His spirit, though weary and injured, always returned with a vengeance and he is the first to call or visit someone who is sick. He is really the icon in the family, the one who deserves praise, the one who deserves awards, but the one who steps back, never wanting or expecting any. He is the greatest example to our children and grandchildren ...to me. And, yes, he is a dream come true.
Dreams never stop. In fact, they get bigger and brighter and bolder. When dreams comes true, you realize they were only ideas -- your ideas -- and you had the power to expand on them, plan them, and change them into reality. Yes, by all means be bold. Dare to believe in yourself, in your dreams and in your ability to make them come true. You never know who is watching you; you never know who will be inspired by your determination, diligence and perseverance. Reach out, share your knowledge, experience and time. A little success is never about fame. It's about developing relationships and building communities where creativity thrives and where we dare to gather as diverse individuals to share ideas and make bigger dreams come true for one another.