Around this time each October, Kannapolis, North Carolina, the majestic Gem Theatre, NC Music Hall of Fame and its sponsors hosts their annual induction ceremony. I can assure you that over the past sixteen years (as well as this year), there was no disappointment.
Since May of 1994 the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame has operated as a Non-profit and recently moved into their new building, which is sure to accommodate the growing numbers of artists and industry memorabilia moving into its hallowed halls.
The production and presentation was nothing short of a grand Hollywood-styled red carpet affair complete with the Hollywood three-beamed spotlight piercing the evening sky, and the theatre’s marquee in lights. There was indeed a parade of music royalty and North Carolina loyalty. Where this evening differed from the Hollywood engagements was the genuine Carolina hospitality that welcomed each of us.
What this event does right is that its hosts present the contributions of musicians, songwriters (and other industry professionals) no matter the genre. A place where the late Reverend F.C. Barnes is celebrated for his contributions in Gospel music along side the likes of Eric Church and Warren Haynes, Country Rock and Southern Rock musicians respectively.
Kicking off this show was R&B vocalist Gerald Alston of Henderson, North Carolina. There was good reason to believe that he learned a lot from his mentor, the late Sam Cooke. Alston’s first offering of the night was an ode to his mentor, “A Change Is Gonna Come.” This fully delivered in tone, timing, and intent. Of the three selections by him, the most well known was the Grammy Award earning song “Kiss and Say Goodbye.”
Entering the hall posthumously were the following:
Nappy Brown (Napoleon Brown Goodson Culp) was a popular blues and R&B singer during the late 1940’s to the early 50’s. Nappy was from Charlotte, NC. Hits by Nappy Brown include “Don’t be Angry” and the always recognizable “The Right Time.” Brown left us on October 12, 2008. He was 78 years young.
15 albums to his credit, from 1984 until 1993 represent Reverend F.C. Barnes’ contributions to Gospel music. The most revered of these are his first on Atlanta International Records’ Gospel label “Rough Side of the Mountain”, which was certified Gold by RIAA. This album lasted on the Billboard magazine Gospel albums chart’s top ten for one year. Barnes passed away on July 11, 2011 at the age of 82.
Composer and songwriter Jay Spell of Spivey’s Corner, North Carolina boasts a resume that includes Jimmy Buffett and Ronnie Milsap to name a few. While attending “The Blind School in Raleigh, NC Jay befriended Ronnie Milsap. A lifelong friendship was born along with musical collaborations. Mr. Spell passed away on December 30, 2010.
When you think of Burt Bacharach and Hal David the name Chuck Jackson doesn’t quite come to mind. Though it should because he was one of the first to successfully record hit records penned by songwriting tandem. The Winston-Salem native made famous the popular “Any Day Now.”
The seminal moment in the ceremony occurred when Country Rock mega star Eric Church surprised everyone (and I do mean everyone) when he made a physical appearance, after first appearing via pre-recorded video feed. Not even his mother (who was seemingly accepting the induction award on his behalf) knew he would be present.
Asheville’s Warren Haynes’ induction was welcomed by a legion of his fans, many of who sang along with him.
Closing out this event was the INCREDIBLE “Fantastic Shakers.” When it comes to beach music few deliver the way this group does and for as long as they have. A pioneering Carolina Beach music band wowed the audience with their signature energy-infused brand of music. Hailing from Lincolnton, NC and comprised of original and new members, this band of showstoppers brought it!
The Theatre was filled to capacity so you should be sure to get your hands on a ticket to next year’s ceremony – don’t wait!
It will be more than worth it.
Please visit the Hall of Fame in person or virtually at: www.northcarolinamusichalloffame.org
By William Gadson
Founder/Editor EmergeNC Magazine