Sean of the South returns to Columbiana

Published 9:10 am Tuesday, September 6, 2022

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By SASHA JOHNS | Special to the Reporter

COLUMBIANA – On Saturday evening Aug. 28, Sean Dietrich, known and loved as Sean of the South to many, performed in front of a sold-out crowd in the Song Black Box Theater in Columbiana. This was Dietrich’s sixth performance in the small town, and it’s a place he has a special connection to because it’s where he did one of his first shows in 2013.

In the early 2010s blogging was beginning to take off, and the Columbiana school librarian of Shelby County High School, Steve Latham, came across a 500-word piece that Dietrich wrote proposing that Andy Griffith run for president. Latham, not a social media guy, began to share the piece—the old-fashioned, pre-social media way—by printing it and passing it around to friends. His grassroots way of sharing had people buzzing about the piece, and eventually, Latham and Dietrich struck up a friendship.

Dietrich was invited to speak to students at the high school, and as he tells the story in his show, it bombed. However, he was invited later to speak to an older set of folks that embraced him and packed the house. From there, his speaking career took off.

Ever since then, he’s had a special relationship with Columbiana, coming out every couple of years to put on a show for the Shelby County Arts Council.

“Sean is a hidden treasure,” Executive Director Bruce Andrews of SCAC said. “You can ask 100 people about him, and maybe 50 won’t know him, but the 50 that do will be crazy fans of him. He’s a true Renaissance man.”

Known nationally, Dietrich’s biggest following comes from the southeastern region of the U.S., which is where the culture and lifestyle exist that influences most of his storytelling.

During his show, he captivated the audience with tales of his journey to becoming a musician from the piano to the accordion, to the guitar. He told tales of Youth Dewed church ladies, fried chicken and tomato aspic that created roars of laughter and struck a chord of nostalgia with audience members who could remember and identify with days gone by in the south.

He invited his audience, many of whom have become friends of his over time, to sing along to old hymns and other familiar tunes, which created a sweet atmosphere of comfort and camaraderie.

Since his career has taken off, Dietrich has written 16 books, the most recent of which, “You are My Sunshine,” will be released on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

“I didn’t see life going this way,” Dietrich said. “It’s been incredibly rewarding, and I’m really lucky to get to do it.”

Dietrich said his favorite part of doing shows is getting to meet people—along with his wife Jamie—afterward and hear their stories.

To learn more about Sean Dietrich, visit his webpage at or follow him across social media at Sean of the South.