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2013 Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

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Lester FlattThe 6th Annual Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony is this Saturday, June 8th, in North Wilkesboro, NC at the Stone Center for the Performing Arts. Doors open at 6pm, Dinner at 6:30pm and Ceremony at 7:15pm. This year's inductees are Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine Founder and Banjo Player, Pete Kuykendall...Lester Flatt, Andy Griffith, Norman Blake, The Stoneman Family and Kyle Creed. Terry and Cindy Baucom have been invited to be the presenters for Mr. Pete Kuykendall and they are honored to do so.

The Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame exists to showcase and preserve the rich musical heritage of the greater Blue Ridge Mountains area from northern Georgia to northern Virginia. The Hall of Fame educates, defines and interprets the history of music in the Blue Ridge area and musicians in all genres from the region with exhibits and an annual celebration of inductees.

The Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame Committee involves local experts along with many leading authorities nationwide in selecting our annual inductees. A fifteen member Nomination Committee including scholars from Appalachian State, UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Wisconsin, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution prepares the ballot upon which a Selection Committee of at least fifty-one members votes. Nomination and voting take place in two rounds between September 15 and October 30.

The 2013 Inductees are:

Andy Griffith, Nationally Known Artist
Born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith brought attention to the people, heritage, culture and music of western North Carolina through his television, broadway and big-screen roles. Andy was an actor, television producer, Grammy-Award winning Southern gospel singer and a writer. He sang as part of some of his acting roles, most notably in “A Face in the Crowd” and in many episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show” and “Matlock”. Throughout the course of his career, Andy Griffith recorded over twenty albums ranging from gospel to country to story monologues in addition to his acting and broadway roles.
Bluegrass Unlimited – Pete Kuykendall, Media and Scholar
Bluegrass Unlimited is a monthly magazine dedicated to the furtherance of bluegrass and old-time musicians, devotees and associates. The magazine was first published in 1966 and is considered the premier magazine for bluegrass music. Founded by Pete and Marion Kuykendall, the magazine moved from an informal to a full-time operation in the fall of 1970. The 1996 International Bluegrass Hall of Fame citation inducting Pete Kuykendall says that Bluegrass Unlimited magazine is “a publication affectionately referred to as the ‘bible of bluegrass music’”.
Kyle Creed, Luthier
Legendary banjo player Kyle Creed came from a musical family in Surry County, North Carolina. He began creating banjos at the age of 16 and soon had a list of orders for his custom designs from throughout the United States, Canada, England, Australia and Japan. Kyle was an innovator in banjo building. His innovative ideas, experiments, and playing skills have impacted the old-time banjo builders and players throughout the world. All the banjos Kyle built, around 200, are highly sought after by players and collectors today because of their uniqueness, sound and playability. A fretless banjo that Kyle built especially for Fred Cockerham was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in June 1988.
Lester Flatt, Songwriter
Part of the dynamic duo of Flatt and Scruggs, Lester Flatt helped to define the sound of traditional bluegrass music. Besides being well known for his singing and guitar playing abilities with such highly acclaimed groups as the Kentucky Pardners, Blue Grass Boys, Flatt and Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys and the Nashville Grass, Lester Flatt is also remembered for his library of compositions. The Flatt songbook looms titanic for any student of American acoustic music. Some of the songs Flatt wrote through the years were “My Cabin in Caroline,” “Come Back Darling,” “I’ll Never Shed Another Tear,” “Down the Road,” “Head Over Heels in Love with You”, and many others.
Norman Blake, Sideman and Regional Musician
Norman Blake was born in Tennessee and raised in Georgia. At the age of 16, he began to play mandolin in a band and music has been the focus of his life ever since. Playing multiple instruments including the guitar, dobro, fiddle and mandolin, Norman Blake has toured with June Carter’s road group, Johnny Cash’s band, Kris Kristofferson’s road group, Joan Baez, and John Hartford’s Aeroplane Band. He has recorded with Bob Dylan on “The Nashville Skyline” album and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Will the Circle be Unbroken” album. Norman and his wife, Nancy, have been nominated for two grammys in the “Best Traditional Folk Recording of the Year” category in 1989 and 1992.
The Stoneman Family, Pioneer Artists
The Stoneman Family originated with Ernest V. “Pop” Stoneman who learned to play guitar, autoharp, banjo and harmonica. His fiddle-playing wife Hattie began performing with “Pop” in the 1920s. “Pop” and Hattie’s children grew up learning how to play various instruments and after World War II the Stoneman Family began entertaining together. They became a popular touring act and appeared on various network television shows in the early 1960s. From 1966 through 1968, the Stonemans hosted their own television series. In 1967, the Country Music Association voted the Stoneman Family the Vocal Group of the Year. All of the Stoneman children were excellent musicians and won awards and accolades throughout their lives.
Jimm Church and The Gems, Sidemen and Regional Musicians
James Silas “Jimmy” Church was well known in the western North Carolina area as a country music singer and guitarist. He was born June 22, 1937 in Wilkes County to Silas and Bessie Holman Church. His dad taught him to play the straight guitar, which was the first of many instruments he played. His band, Jimmy Church and the Gems performed at numerous venues in the area for decades along with countless benefits such as muscular dystrophy and other charitable organizations.

Jimmy Church and the Gems played as the house band for Tweetsie Railroad theme park near Blowing Rock, playing for more than 200,000 people. Gospel music was a special love of Jimmy’s and he played throughout his life at churches and other religious events. He recorded two records, “Be Nobody’s Darling but Mine” with Christine Horton and “Ruby” with the Gems.

Church signed a contract in Nashville with Mary Reeves, wife of the late Jim Reeves and shared the stage with artists such as Loretta Lynn, Tom T. Hall, Marty Stuart, Jim Ed Brown, Dale Reeves and the Wilburn Brothers. The Gems appeared on the Nashville Music “You can Be A Star” show at Music City, USA and received the Outstanding Entertainment award. He taught his children, grandchildren and many others to play music and often performed with family members. He made music a full time profession and his group included his sons, Jimmy Jr., playing the steel guitar and singing, Rickey on the drums and Bud playing the bass guitar. His youngest son Chris was a featured soloist for many years with the Gems. His grandson David Gambill began playing with him at the age of twelve and continues to perform with the training he received from his grandfather. Christine Horton of Ferguson played piano with the Gems for 13 years; Clay Wilson and Lloyd Church were other fellow band members for many years.

He was also an experienced radio announcer, having worked as a disc jockey at WFMX in Statesville and WQXZ in Taylorsville. He always wanted to stay in the local area. His love for music and his talent showed through each performance whether it was playing for the governor or playing for a family reunion. His musical ability allowed him many opportunities to visit with government officials, movie stars, sports stars, and musical stars but mostly he loved the interactions with his people of western North Carolina. Jimmy Church died on February 23, 2010 at his home.

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