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Heyward Howkins, ‘Praline Country’ – Exclusive Song Premiere

Heyward Howkins

As a songwriter, it’s helps to have a sense of history. After all, there are no new stories, and any tale of love, murder, triumph, revenge, or treachery you dream up has probably been told a million times before. The key is to draw on the past and give it your own spin, and that’s what Heyward Howkins has done with ‘Praline Country,’ a brand-new tune from his sophomore album, ‘Be Frank, Furness,’ due out Nov. 5.

With ‘Praline Country,’ the Philly singer-songwriter joins Lloyd Price, the Clash, Tina Turner and countless others in singing about Stacker Lee, an iconic American antihero character based on a 19th century St. Louis pimp named Lee Shelton. Nicknamed “Stag Lee,” Shelton famously offed fellow gangster Billy Lyons on Christmas night in 1985, purportedly because his rival dared to take his Stetson hat.

Rather than get into the gory details of the killing, Howkins adds a new character, a sort of femme fatale, into the mix. He also turns in a bright and breezy country-folk tune, singing with a deep and distinct voice he may well have inherited from great-great-great-great-great grandfather Thomas Heyward,” a musically inclined founding father known as the “singing signer” of the Declaration of Independence.

“For ‘Praline Country,’ I really wanted to portray a timeless narrative about love and jealousy — a story that could take place anytime and anywhere,” Howkins tells “I chose the traditional Stacker Lee folk story as a jumping-off point but made the killer in my story a lady, ‘cruel Stella.'”

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