The Music Stage: Local Musicians Finalists in the 2024 Carolina Country Music Awards


Local music legends, April Dawn and Walter Finley, known for their BYOBoat with floating stage concerts on the lake, lit the stage at the Carolina Country Music Awards on January 20th at the famous House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach, SC.

Lake Norman country music artists Walter Finley and April Dawn continue to shine on the music landscape, with their fourth consecutive nomination for the coveted “Duo of the Year” at the esteemed Carolina Country Music Awards. This exceptionally gifted duo has also garnered a nomination for the esteemed “Single of the Year” category with their debut co-authored track, “Lean To,” injecting a fresh and dynamic dimension into their flourishing career.

Before these most recent nominations, their music stood out in the vibrant landscape of the country music industry, and they have garnered numerous accolades and honors. Notably, they clinched the prestigious “Duo of the Year” title at the Carolina Country Music Awards for both 2020 and 2021, solidifying their status as a powerhouse duo. Additionally, their remarkable “Country Tour of the Year” win in 2022 further solidified their status.

The Carolina Country Music Association presented the annual Carolina Country Music Awards (CCMAs) Saturday night, January 20, 2024. A standing room only crowd estimated at 2,500 filled the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach to watch the annual show, which was hosted by the ever-charismatic Frank Johnson, Chief Meteorologist at News 13 (WBTW Television) and the enigmatic Sweet Tea, on-air personality at the Carolina Country Radio Network (93.9 WMIR in Myrtle Beach, 100.1 WFAY in Fayetteville and 106.3 WYAY in Wilmington). The evening was highlighted by special guests including platinum recording artist John Berry, who not only took the stage to perform his #1 hit song, “Your Love Amazes Me,” but also another very prominent BMI and Country Music Association artist by the name of Skip Ewing performed, as well. Skip is known for his hit song “The Gospel According to Luke.”

An exciting night of music was had by all that attended and featured dynamic live performances by 19 of the Carolinas’ most accomplished singer-songwriters. It was an emotional rollercoaster for all the nominees, fueled by their poignant lyrics, soul-stirring melodies and genuine country vibes. The spotlight shone on renowned artists such as the 2022 CCMA Entertainer of the Year and CCMA Male Artist of the Year, Greg Parrish, the multi-CCMA Award Winner, Paige King Johnson, the sensational Damien Horne, and the special guest Texas Singer-Songwriter, Donice Morace.

As April Dawn was leaving for the CCMAs the Friday prior to the big event on Saturday, she texted me that, though she was looking forward to the awards, she was already missing Mooresville. A local native to the Lake Norman area, April’s strong faith and love of music keep her grounded, though her popularity has soared.

April noted, “Sweet Tea actually found us during Covid on one of our Facebook live shows. She and her husband, Jeff, would watch and request our original music.”

Seeing Walter and April on stage at this prestigious event brought home the significance of their nomination and its importance of representing the Lake Norman music scene. They were joined on stage by Mike Frost on bass guitar and Larry Cioffi of Denver, NC. The four held the audience spell-bound as Walter and April sang their hit single “Lean To.” While they were singing their hearts out to a packed house, Lisa Crates of Lisa Crates Photography captured the magical night on film for all of us to enjoy.

Back in Mooresville after the event, April talked about the performance. “The song we performed was our first co-write, and it’s about the American dream of having a home. That “AH-HA” moment in love when a couple realizes that they both want the same kind of home, the same kind of life and are actually doing what they love together to get it. We filmed the video for “Lean To” up in Pennsylvania last year with the crew of Polstar Pictures during the strike and are seriously considering using some of the performance footage to remix the video before releasing it later this year.”

April Dawn and Walter Finley continue to perform concerts on Lake Norman – BYOBoat! They have a floating stage, and their music echoes over the water! If you would like to meet April and Walter, they will be performing at a book signing that includes a story about their BYOBoat adventures on Saturday, March 2nd from 11am-1pm at Fred and June’s Books in Mooresville. You can also check them out on Facebook –,, Instagram – or see more information about them at


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