Simpson, Coastal Cohorts win environmental service award

Carolina professor and College of Arts and Sciences alumnus Bland Simpson and fellow College alumni Don Dixon and Jim Wann have won an environmental service award from the N.C. Coastal Federation.

Simpson is Kenan Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at UNC. The three make up the Coastal Cohorts singing group. For more than 25 years, they have been singing about the Carolina coast and spreading their environmental message. Their popular performances often benefit the work of the N.C. Coastal Federation.

Simpson of the Tony Award-winning Red Clay Ramblers has also collaborated on the books Into the Sound Country (with his wife Ann Cary Simpson) and, most recently, on The Coasts of Carolina (with Scott Taylor). He also serves on the federation board.

Wann’s Broadway musical was a Tony and Drama Desk Nominee for Best Musical and Best Music on Broadway, an Olivier Nominee for Best Musical in London and the longest-running musical in Chicago theater history.

Dixon of the rock band Arrogance produced King Mackerel & The Blues are Running and Wild Ponies. The celebrated singer-songwriter and record producer’s other credits include working with REM, Hootie and the Blowfish, Marti Jones, James McMurtry and The Smithereens.

The Coastal Cohorts were among 15 people, groups, businesses, agencies, local governments and state legislators who received the organization’s annual Pelican Awards on Aug. 6. The awards recognize exemplary action to protect and preserve the state’s coastal environment. The winners were honored at a ceremony at the federation’s headquarters in Ocean in Carteret County.

The N.C. Coastal Federation is the state’s only nonprofit organization focused exclusively on protecting and restoring the coast of North Carolina through education, advocacy and habit preservation and restoration. Since its founding in 1982, the federation has worked with citizens to safeguard the state’s coastal rivers, creeks, sounds and beaches and has protected or restored more than 50,000 acres along the state’s coast.

Learn more about the federation and the award winners at

Simpson will also be honored with another award soon. At the 8th Annual East Carolina University Literary Homecoming (Sept 23-24, 2011), he’ll receive the Roberts Award for Literary Inspiration. More information at