The seventh annual Overdrive-Red Eye Radio’s Trucker Talent Search concluded with a virtual concert Friday night, and finalist John Malayter, a flatbed driver out of Rogersville, Tennessee, was declared this year’s winner. He performed a song he wrote about missing home, “Take Me Back to Tennessee,” which he penned before he was even a driver.
Malayter will receive a day’s recording session as Jay’s Place in Nashville, Tennessee, and will be profiled in Overdrive.
The other two finalists were truckers Paul Cullers and Freddy French. Cullers, of Dayton, Ohio, sang Lionel Richie’s “Easy,” while French, of Addison, Illinois, sang an original song “White Sheets,” which he accompanied with a Greek bouzouki. Cullers is a driver for Ashley Distribution, and French is an owner-operator for D&E Transport.
The Trucker Talent Search finale event was one of six scheduled as part of Overdrive’s GATS Week, Aug. 24-28, a series of Overdrive events produced virtually after The Great American Trucking Show was canceled due to coronavirus concerns.
The judges were professional musicians Jayne Denham and Watermelon Slim; Tim Walker, a vice president with Red Eye Radio owner Westwood One; and Max Heine, Overdrive editorial director.
Emceed this year by Red Eye Radio‘s Eric Harley, the finals featured one song each from Cullers, French and Malayter, as well as other musical entertainment from Paul Marhoefer and six-time Trucker Talent Search emcee and recording artist Tony Justice.
The 2020 contest received nearly 50 entries from truckers who love to sing. A panel of judges reviewed all the entries, and Overdrive featured 10 semi-finalists before selecting the three finalists.
Here was Malayter’s original entry into the contest this spring: