John (left) and David Morris at the WV State Folk Festival at Glenville in 1974 courtesy of WV Division of Culture and History photograph by Carl Fleischhauer.
By: Julie Perine, The Exponent Telegraph | Posted: Jan. 11, 2018 | Source: WV News
CHARLESTON — This year’s West Virginia Music Hall of Fame inductees are rooted in various genres of music, but all are rooted in the Mountain State.
On Feb. 10, Hasil Adkins, Frank Hutchison, Ann Magnuson, The Morris Brothers, the late Fred “Sonic” Smith and Michael W. Smith will be inducted into the elite group of musicians. The awards ceremony, which will feature a musical segment for each inductee, takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the West Virginia Culture Center Theater in Charleston.
It’s an honor, said West Virginia Music Hall of Fame Director Michael Lipton, that is second to none.
“What we’ve found out is that there’s something special about being recognized where you were born or where you grew up,” Lipton said. “You can get a Grammy or a gold record. You can be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but there’s something different about being honored and inducted into the hall of fame in your own state.”
This year’s class of inductees will bring the total to 52, most who were born and/or raised in West Virginia. The list is impressive, Lipton said, and includes Little Jimmy Dickens, Bill Withers, Johnnie Johnson and Kathy Mattea, to name a few.
The organization is only 13 years old, with six classes of musicians inducted to date. Lipton, a West Virginia guitarist whose musical resume includes the Mountain Stage band The Carpenter Ants, came up with the idea several years ago.
“I had been in Nashville at the Country Music Hall of Fame and was driving home, thinking we should have a hall of fame in West Virginia,” he said. “I had already been playing music here for 30 years or so, and I thought I had a pretty good handle on the musical history of the state.”
The idea took off and response was good. Over the years, Lipton has learned much more about West Virginia’s musical history and the induction process has been a work in progress. It’s open for nominations year-round.
“We have about 120 active nominations. Everyone has different ideas about what constitutes deserving,” Lipton said. “It’s a very subjective thing.”
A committee of about 20 individuals combs through the nominations and selects musicians for induction.
“Those names are placed ‘In the Wings’ — people who will definitely be inducted at some point,” Lipton said. “One year, we pick actual inductees and the next year, we repopulate the list.”
The first induction took place in 2007 and thereafter in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015.
“Because we moved it from the fall to the spring, it’s been 2 1/2 years this time,” Lipton said.
This year’s class is perhaps the most diverse of any class of inductees, Lipton said.
“It goes from Michael W. Smith, who is kind of a superstar in Christian music, to Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith, who is founding member of the Detroit rock band ‘MC5.’ His wife is Patti Smith, the poet/rock and roll singer who is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and accepted Bob Dylan’s Nobel Peace Prize. She’s coming to accept his award,” Lipton said. “Then we have Ann Magnuson — a wildly creative singer and actress from Charleston who did incredible one-woman shows about growing up here and who now lives in Los Angeles. Hasil Adkins is from Boone County. He personifies both the ‘wild’ and the ‘wonderful’ of West Virginia.
“Frank Hutchison was also very influential. He did both hillbilly music and the blues. The Morris Brothers — John and David — are from Clay County and did folk and traditional music; very important to the state. They did the Morris Family Old-Time Music Festival for three or four years and it was like West Virginia’s Woodstock.”
Bob Wise, former governor who used to attend the festival, will be presenting the award to John Morris, who will accept on behalf of his late brother, David.
Michael W. Smith, Ann Magnuson and John Morris will perform at the induction ceremony and there will be tributes to the music of inductees who have passed on.
The West Virginia Culture Center Theater in Charleston holds about 450 and typically is filled close to capacity for the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
“It’s a big deal — and a lot of work,” Lipton said. “It’s broadcast live on West Virginia Public Broadcasting around the state, and a video document will be made available to schools.”
Tickets are $95 at the door and $75 in advance. Advance tickets can be purchased at www.wvmhof.com.