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Local singer/songwriters Dusty Leigh and Dave Nudo have won first place in the category Best Musical Collaboration of the year at the sixth-annual Josie Music Awards, the largest independent artist show in the world.

“We didn’t think we’d win in a million years,” said Leigh. “When they called our names we just stood there with our mouths open because we couldn’t believe it. We were so blissfully unaware.”

The two sang the duet “Like You Were Forbidden,” a song written by Nudo about two people who sharing forbidden love. The song was one winner out of 85 categories and 33,000 nominee submissions. Leigh was also nominated for Song of the Year for a song she wrote about her dad called “99 Halos.”

Always the singer, Leigh grew up in a music loving family but didn’t start singing professionally until 2011. She and her active-duty husband had settled in North Carolina and a band just started coming together. They would jam on their lunch breaks and occasionally play parties as their popularity grew.

“My dad once told me if you can’t make a song felt and relatable, don’t sing it,” said Leigh. “So I do my best to feel a song and I think it resonates because people can feel that.”

Leigh and her husband ended up moving back to Idaho after he retired and she said it wasn’t long before she got the itch to start singing again. She eventually got her original drummer and bass player to move out to Idaho, and along with some local musicians started Dusty Leigh And The Claim Jumpers.

“It’s happened so quick,” said Leigh. “We didn’t go into the band thing to be famous. We just collaborated and Dave wrote a great song; it felt like it happened overnight and this award is just such an honor.”

The artists also have some new music they're set to release. Nudo has a single release scheduled for the fall and Dusty Leigh and the Claim Jumpers will drop the first volume of a three-volume EP titled Roots & Dreams on Monday, Sept. 28. Both projects will be available on all major streaming platforms.

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