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As the last strains of John Robison's harmonica died away, the crowd in the Williamsburg Hospitality House ballroom knew they'd just heard something special. Robison and bandmates Robbie Watts, Su Tarr, and Victoria Tenace -- who together make up Southern Horizon -- had just finished playing their version of Shenandoah for attendees at the Children of the Confederacy's annual General convention. Although the tune has long been a favorite among Southerners, Tarr's plaintive fiddle, Watts' guitar, and Tenace's clear soprano voice combined with Robison's harmonica to give many in the audience the feeling that they'd never really heard it until that evening.

When Robison had chosen the material the group would play for Welcome and Historical Evening, he had included Shenandoah especially for Virginia Division UDC President and Valley resident Susie Whitacre, who would be a guest on the platform that night. What he could not have known was that Mrs. Whitacre and the members of Virginia Division UDC would return the favor in a very special way.

In a short ceremony following the conclusion of their performance on July 12 in Williamsburg, Va., Mrs. Whitacre and CofC Historian General Miss Katie Trice presented the Jefferson Davis Historical Gold Medal to the members of Southern Horizon in recognition of their efforts to preserve the rich musical heritage and traditions of the Old South through their many concert and dance appearances.

Formed in 1987, Southern Horizon performs authentic Confederate/Southern music before thousands of people every year at period balls, reenactments, National Park Service events, conventions, heritage festivals, schools, museums, corporate meetings, and UDC/SCV functions throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition to being the featured musicians at the first four Musuem of the Confederacy balls, they have also performed at a number of UDC General conventions in Richmond.

Southern Horizon with their medals Robbie Watts, Victoria Tenace, Su Tarr, and John Robison display their medals and certificates.

The group's Richmond-based members put in much time researching both the authenticity and the history of their repertoire. Archives of old sheet music, song books, and antique recordings are just a few of the sources that they use in their quest to present to the public only those songs that were sung in the Confederacy -- in the manner in which our forebears would have heard them.

The group also pays careful attention to instrumentation and clothing, playing only those instruments that were in common usage in the Confederacy and dressing in period-correct clothing to give their audiences the look as well as the sound of the old South.

One of the most prestigious awards bestowed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Jefferson Davis Historical Gold Medal recognizes excellence in history (historical work and research), declamation (recitations, dramatic characterizations), education (lectures, public educational displays), publications (papers, books), or any combination of those four categories that pertains to preserving, protecting, and promoting Confederate heritage.

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