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West Virginia Music Hall of Fame inducts 5th class on Nov. 16

Nov. 09, 2013 @ 11:56 PM

As the director of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, Michael Lipton often wears the hat of a musical detective.

While some states are sitting on the dock of a musical bay shimmering with huge industry stars, the crazily-carved, sparsely populated and fiercely independent Mountain State has been home to scores of diverse, and most often humble, musical artists who’ve helped shaped their music’s landscape whether it’s opera, country, jazz, bluegrass, classical, gospel or blues.

In years past, Lipton and the WV Music Hall of Fame has shined a light on everyone from seminal Harlem Renaissance writer and Bluefield, W.Va. native artist, Maceo Pinkard, who wrote “Sweet Georgia Brown,” to such overlooked legacies like that of the late Huntington native Grand Ol Opry star Hawkshaw Hawkins, who died on the plane crash with Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas in March 1963.

This year, Lipton and the WV Music Hall of Fame have uncovered a group of equally impressive and diverse artists as they induct the fifth class into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame at a 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16 ceremony at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston. Doors open at 7 p.m. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

The 2013 inductees are bluegrass legends Melvin and Ray Goins, Big Band singer, Broadway and TV star Peter Marshall, Nashville studio master, Wayne Moss, Newgrass/Americana legend, Tim O’Brien, Paris jazz icon, Ada “Bricktop” Smith, New York Metropolitan Opera legend, Eleanor Steber, and the gospel legends, The Swan Silvertones.

Tickets are $60. “Preferred Tickets” are $200 and include admittance to the meet and greet, the Governor’s Reception before the event and the after-show party.

Tickets are available at Taylor Books and through the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame website, www.wvmusichalloffame.com and the Hall of Fame office at 304-342-4412. 

The 2013 Spirit Award will be presented to Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., who will be one of the many performers on the show, which is being broadcast live on West Virginia Public Broadcasting from 8 to 10:30 p.m. 

Lipton said it has been a real joy digging in and sharing information about this year’s influential class that includes such legends as Ada “Bricktop,” the influential Paris nightclub owner and singer,  the Swan Silvertones, gospel legends whose song inspired Paul Simon to write, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Wayne Moss, whose guitar licks are heard on such hits as “Pretty Woman,” by Roy Orbison, and Eleanor Steber, considered one of the most important U.S. sopranos of the 20th Century.

“I think I enjoy my job much more being the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame than some other states that have more well known alumni just because these people are all so interesting,” Lipton said. “I guess I would like to think it is something in the water or something in the hills that gives people this little independent streak and they kind of do it their way, but it is fascinating from a guy who wrote “Smokey the Bear” and “Here Comes Petter Cottontail,” to one of the 2008 inductees coming back, the director of music at CBS, Robert Drasnin.”

While the WV Music Hall of Fame’s traveling museum visits and educates students in all 55 counties about the state’s rich musical heritage, Lipton said he too receives a musical education every time he begins digging into the musical treasures shared by the latest class.

Lipton said he was blown away by Wheeling native Eleanor Steber, who won the New York Metropolitan Opera’s Auditions of the Air in 1940 and became one of the MET’s greatest singers.

“She is regarded as one of the greatest Mozart singers of them all and she performed in more roles than anyone ever has at the Metropolitan Opera,” Lipton said. “She was a total workhorse, but she was not an opera purist, she loved all kinds of music and kind of got grief for it. She just said she loved to sing and loved music and that is very West Virginian I think. She wasn’t snobby about it. She sang on the Voice of Firestone broadcasts for a long time where they gave her a variety of material to sing. She was like a rock star back in the early 1950s touring with an entourage and she may be the most internationally famous person we have inducted.”

Like in years past, the ceremony, which is being emceed by WV native retired baseball star John Kruk, and singer Mollie O’Brien, will be flavored  with a slew of influential famous presenters and acceptors including: Kathy Mattea (Tim O’Brien), Charlie McCoy (Wayne Moss), Butch Miles (Bricktop), Nick Clooney (Peter Marshall), and Curtis and Friendly Womack (Swan Silvertones).

Melvin Goins, Tim O’Brien, Peter Marshall and Wayne Moss – will be present to accept their awards and perform. In addition, there will be performances by Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., Mollie O’Brien, Curtis and Friendly Womack (of the Valentinos), opera singer Betsy Bare, and Shayla Leftridge.

Lipton said in many ways the WV Music Hall of Fame ceremony has turned into what he would hoped it would, a sort of homecoming and family reunion of sorts for West Virginia artists, including past winners such as Mattea, Charlie McCoy, Butch Miles, Drasnin and many others who are coming back home to play music and celebrate their state’s musical heritage.

“One of the things we had kind of hoped to do and we have done it some is to reintroduce people to their home state,” Lipton said. “If you do something in a big way you often go to the center of your craft New York or Los Angeles or Nashville, if you have stars in your eyes that is where you go. We had hoped to keep that connection going with people in their home place. I think one of the things that is different about West Virginia and why it is so special is because growing up here, and I didn’t grow up here, but we have interviewed about 50 people for this movie we are doing about growing up in West Virginia, and it is very different, and it has provided these people with the fundamental building blocks to help them keep their heads on straight. There is also a sense of humility and a sense of appreciation and there is a sense of not taking things for granted, and everyone seems to attribute that to what they learned growing up here.”

Lipton said as always they reach out to a lot of people influenced by the artists to come and put a personal touch on the ceremony.

During the ceremony Alec Trebek, Paul Simon, Al Kooper, Steve Harvey and a world-famous film director (who requested his name not be used in press releases) will provide videos and letters of congratulations.

Lipton said since such artists as Ada “Bricktop” Smith, who passed away in 1984, does not have any relatives to accept the award, they reached out to such WV jazz players as the iconic drummer Butch Miles and jazz pianist Art Simmons, who knew “Bricktop” to be there to help honor her.

“Art Simmons was one of a number of West Virginians and  number of African Americans who relocated to Europe and Paris in particular because of the racial situation in the U.S., and the jazz scene there was great,” Lipton said. “We have him on our music map. I bumped into someone and they said ‘you know Art Simmons has been living in Beckley since the 1970s’ and so I got his phone number and he’s 87, the same age as Peter Marshall, and he’s doing great and he knew Bricktop and he is going to present her award which is really cool.”

What has also been really cool at the WV Music Hall of Fame concert and ceremony is the music itself.

Lipton, one of the guitarists for Mountain Stage, which is celebrating its 800th show Sunday, has gathered up a one-of-a-kind house band that includes Butch Miles, Charlie McCoy, Tim and Mollie O’Brien, Lipton, Russ Hicks, Don Dixon and others who’ll back such artists as Peter Marshall, who will sing, “This is All I Ask,” and the quirky country hit, “Skip A Rope.”

Other music performances include Murphy singing , “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” Swan Silvertones’ songs sung by their relatives, and Moss, joined by a couple of his children, tearing up the ax on the songs he put his stripe on like “Pretty Woman,”  “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”  and “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Nothin.”

“It’s a real variety show maybe this year more than any other year,” Lipton said. “One of the changes we have made is adding more music, and all the living inductees are doing three songs. The entire show is two hours but we’ve got a half hour warm up before TV so we’ll have the “West Virginia Mambo,” Autumn Blair and Mollie O’Brien before the invocation.”

Although the last WV induction ceremony was taped and then broadcast at a later date, Lipton said a big tip of the hat goes out to WV Public Broadcasting and Scott Finn and producer Pat Sergent, who will be putting up the two hour ceremony live statewide on WVPBS.

“Two and a half hours of live TV is insane but it was their idea to do it live, and you have to commend them because nobody does that,” Lipton said. “I  think it adds a lot of excitement to it and if you are watching it live on TV, there’s a different vibe.”

WHAT: The 2013 West Virginia Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony and concert
WHERE: Culture Center Theater in Charleston.
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 16.  Doors open at 7 p.m. Show time is 7:30 p.m.
THE HOSTS: Former major league ballplayer and current ESPN commentator John Kruk and singer Mollie O’Brien
THE PERFORMERS: Performances by 2013 inductees Melvin Goins, Tim O’Brien, Peter Marshall and Wayne Moss; and Mollie O’Brien, Curtis & Friendly Womack (of the Valentinos), opera singer Betsy Bare, Shayla Leftridge, “Chasing Nashville” star Autumn Blair and Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr., who will also be getting the Spirit Award form the WV Music HOF
THE INDUCTEES: Melvin & Ray Goins, Peter Marshall, Wayne Moss, Tim O’Brien, Ada “Bricktop” Smith, Eleanor Steber, and The Swan Silvertones
THE PRESENTERS: Presenters and acceptors include Kathy Mattea (Tim O’Brien), Charlie McCoy (Wayne Moss), Butch Miles and Art Simmons (Bricktop), Nick Clooney (Peter Marshall), Curtis and Friendly Womack (Swan Silvertones), and Buddy Griffin (Melvin Goins).
VIDEOS AND LETTERS: A video by comedian - and McDowell County native - Steve Harvey will welcome everyone to the show. During the ceremony, there will be videos and letters of congratulations from Paul Simon, Steve Harvey, Al Kooper, and a film director so famous he requested that his name not be released.
 HOW MUCH: General admission tickets are $60. “Preferred Tickets” are $200 each and include preferred seating, admittance to the Meet and Greet, the Governor’s Reception prior to the event and the after-show party.
GET TICKETS: at Taylor Books and through the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame web site, www.wvmusichalloffame.com and the HoF office at 304-342-4412.             
WATCH IT ON PBS: The ceremony welcomes the fifth class of inductees and will be broadcast live across the state on WV PBS
ON THE WEB: www.wvmusichalloffame.com.









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