The recently created West Virginia Music Hall of Fame will induct its first 10 members — including Grand Ole Opry star Little Jimmy Dickens and songwriter Billy Edd Wheeler — during ceremonies Friday (Nov. 16) at the state’s Cultural Center Theater in Charleston. Wheeler’s hits include Johnny and June Carter Cash’s “Jackson” and Kenny Rogers’ “Coward of the County.”
Among the presenters announced for the induction ceremony are Alison Krauss, Kathy Mattea and folk singer and musicologist Mike Seeger. Other inductees scheduled to attend are pop singer and songwriter Bill Withers (“Ain’t No Sunshine”), folk singer Hazel Dickens and Pulitzer Prize-winning classical composer George Crumb. Deceased inductees are traditional country singer Molly O’Day, pioneering singer-songwriter Blind Alfred Reed, Chuck Berry’s former pianist Johnnie Johnson (a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), fiddler Clark Kessinger and jazz saxophonist Leon “Chu” Berry.
The occasion will also mark the opening of the Art of West Virginia Music exhibit at the Cultural Center, a display that features recordings, posters, photos and promotional items, plus a digital listening station featuring 40 songs connected to the exhibit.
The new Hall of Fame recently released its first album, the 19-cut Always Lift Him Up: A Tribute to Blind Alfred Reed. It features performances by Little Jimmy Dickens, Mattea, Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel, Tim O’Brien, Mollie O’Brien, Connie Smith, Charlie McCoy and others.