Famous People from Pensacola (Part 1)
Many people don’t realize this, but Pensacola, the first city along the Gulf of Mexico (more affectionately known as the Gulf Coast) when entering Florida from its Alabama border, has been home to many a famous person over the years. From its temperate weather year round to its pristine, emerald watered beaches with mesmerizing white sands, Pensacola isn’t just a great place to raise a family, but offers health fanatics and fitness addicts a wide variety of luxurious spots to get their endorphins pumping while gazing upon scenic views which could very well be straight from a postcard. While some of these noteworthy individuals were native to the region (we call ourselves Pensacolians by the way, although some people spell it Pensacolans), many others simply got a taste of life out here while working or on vacation and found it hard, if not impossible to leave. This list, however, is for people who were born here in sunny Pensacola. Hopefully you’ll be surprised to see this large list, and maybe you’ll be motivated to go out and make your dreams come true, the same way as these folks has.
YouTube has found many of its stars from Pensacola, including Lance & Logan Thirtyacre, Chanel Logan and Matt & Nick Hall. Famous blogger Mae Elizabeth Gurene is also a Pensacola native. Lance & Logan are better known for their webseries “Super Mario Logan”, while Matt & Nick Hall rose to fame on the content creation app “Vine” before settling down with their youtube channel. Chanel Loran is a fantastic singer, who covers many of pop’s biggest hits on her channel, and released her own terrific single entitled “Hush” all the way back in August 2014. Interestingly, she created her channel in 2007, but didn’t create content for her channel until 2012. Mae Elizabeth Gurene used a different platform to rise to prominence, Instagram. With more than forty thousand followers, she drops beauty knowledge constantly, and besides having a successful photography business, was also a brand ambassador for Levi’s, and earned her bachelor’s degree in photography from the highly respected Savannah College of Art and Design.
Many a musician found themselves born in Pensacola as well. Most recently, famous metal band Of Mice & Men had their original singer born and raised here in Pensacola. Austin Carlile, also from the bank Attack Attack!, has since retired from music and coaches youth baseball in Costa Rica. Chloe Channell, a quarter finalist from America’s Got Talent’s eighth season in 2013, was selected to be a cast member in Kenny Rogers production of The Toy, starring alongside Billy Dean. She began singing at age seven, and some of her favorite singers are Martina McBride and Loretta Lynn. Christian rock n’ roll singer Zach Williams, from the popular Zach Williams & The Reformation, was born here but later moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas. His first hit single made it to the #1 spot on the Christian rock charts back in 2016. Country music fans have undoubtedly heard of Aaron Tippin, a former collaborator with Reba McEntire during his time employed at Starstruck Entertainment. He was a bar performer until he became a major songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee. He married his sweetheart, Thea Corontzos, whom he also co-wrote his last hit song, “Kiss This”.
If I told you the founder of rock group Shadow was from Pensacola, it may not mean anything to you. But when I tell you that Mike McCready, the lead guitarist of Pearl Jam, formed his first group Shadow in Pensacola, you may get a little more excited. While Pearl Jam is his most popular and famous rock group, Mike McCready has also been a member of the groups Temple of the Dog, Mad Season and The Rockfords. Shane Crump, bassist for postrock group Alesana and The Ivory, is also a Pensacolian. He has also lip sync’d screams for Adam Ferguson’s song and music video “Seduction”. Winner of a Florida Folk Heritage award, Ida Goodson, famous jazz singer, is also a native of Pensacola. A longtime contributor to the music scene, Ida Goodson originally was a church singer until getting contracts to make music for silent films. Not only was she an accomplished jazz singer with hits such as “Precious Lord”, Ida Goodson was also a major recording artist in the moody blues genre.
Many professional wrestlers were born in Pensacola as well, including former WWE tag-team champions Jimmy & Jey Uso, WWE Superstar Naomi, and former WWE world heavyweight champion Roman Reigns. Michael Hayes from the Freebirds was also born in Pensacola, while wrestling legend Austin Idol is from the neighboring Gulf Breeze. Speaking of professional tough guys, Roy Jones Jr., a boxing legend who many claim is pound for pound the greatest boxer of all time (moreso than Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather Jr.), was born and raised (and still lives) in this wonderful beach community known as Pensacola.
Katy Mixon, of Mike & Molly and Eastbound & Down fame, is an actress from Pensacola. Having been in the films Minions, Hell or High Water and and the Nicholas Cage vehicle Drive Angry (see, I told you I think I’m funny), she has also been romantically linked to Bobby Deen, famous chef Paula Deen’s son. Reality star Kim Zolciak is also a Pensacola native. She began her time in the spotlight on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and was given her own spin-off show Don’t be Tardy, which shares a similar name to her musical single Don’t be Tardy for the Party, which topped at #3 on the iTunes Dance Chart. Another Pensacolian who you’ve most likely heard, but likely haven’t seen is Peter Thomas. Peter was a voice actor famous for narrating such television programs as Mystery Detectives, Forensic Files and Nova, and worked for many highly respected brands such as Coca-Cola, IBM computers and Burger King. Peter Thomas wasn’t just an accomplished voice actor however; as a young man Peter served in the American armed forces during World War Two, and received the Purple Heart, The Bronze Heart and many other honorable awards for his brave actions during The Battle of the Bulge, The Battle of Normandy and other military battles. He even narrated an Academy Award winning documentary on the Holocaust entitled One Survivor Remembers. The star of Jesse Eisenberg’s comedy Now You See Me, Jessica Lindsey, is also from Pensacola. Besides the aforementioned film, she also was featured in the films Instructions Not Included and Ladrones, as well as the television programs Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Will & Grace and Without a Trace. She has also modeled for Esquire Latin America. Character and voice actor John Schwab, who was been featured in films such as Jurassic Park: Lost Kingdom, Annihilation and Kick-Ass 2, as well as video games such as the award winning Alien: Isolation the critically acclaimed The Witcher series, is yet amongst the Hollywood celebrities lucky enough to have been born near the beaches of Pensacola.
Many a famous and accomplished American football players have come from Pensacola. Emmitt Smith, Trent Richardson, Derrick Brooks, Alfred Morris, Damarious Randall, and Danny Wuerfell are all accomplished players of the sport who were born here, but considering how much the south loves our college football, it’s a surprise that list isn’t twice as long. Baseball player Josh Donaldson, basketball’s Reggie Evans and Mitchell Robinson and female race car driver Johanna Long are all sports stars from the area. As a woman, I have a bit of personal pride about sharing the same hometown as Johanna Long, as she won the 2010 snowball derby, as well as having accomplished a host of other amazing feats in racing.
This is really a short list of some of the amazing people Pensacola has birthed. Learning about all these folks was really a lot of fun, and I can definitely see myself making a second, or even third blog post about this,, as the amount of great people from Pensacola is quite a lengthy list. Perhaps it is because Pensacola is just one of the nicest areas I have ever experienced, and is one of Northwest Florida’s finest, oldest and most beautiful locations.