NC artists honored for their contribution to music
By Sarah Campbell
KANNAPOLIS — Ben Folds’ seventh-grade band teacher John “Chick” Shelton sat in the audience Thursday as the alternative rock singer, songwriter and instrumentalist was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.
“I wouldn’t be here without the public school system here in North Carolina,” Folds said. “I had a really good public school education.”
Folds, a judge on NBC’s a cappella competition “The Sing Off,” said the lessons he received in his hometown of Winston-Salem help propel him down the path to success.
His first band teacher, Mrs. Rushing, taught him about humility.
“Know your business, but also being informal enough to treat people like human beings, I carry that with me,” he said.
Shelton introduced Folds to jazz before it became it became popular in mainstream society.
“That was very progressive,” Folds said.
Folds said one of his most vivid memories of growing up in North Carolina is playing a drum solo at the age of 12 for an audience at Moore Elementary School, a gig he landed thanks to Shelton.
“That is burned into my brain,” he said. “All those people, they definitely gave me something that I certainly hope is being afforded to kids now, but I suspect it’s not as much.”
Fellow inductee Anthony Griffey said as a product of the state’s public school system, he’s proud to call North Carolina home.
“I would hope that you as musicians and as lovers of music would support our school music programs,” he said. “They are in dire need of your support.”
Griffey, an opera tenor, has won four Grammys and currently serves as professor of the practice at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
After spending 12 years in New York he decided to return home to High Point to be closer to his nephews.
“I realized as long as there is an airport I could live anywhere,” he said. “I had a really strong music education in public schools so it’s a great feeling to be recognized in my home state.”
Presenter Kenn Mann said he’s seen firsthand what a support for music education could mean when Andy Griffith met the needs of a marching band at his high school in Manteo.
“He donated all the instruments and paid for an instructor,” Mann said.
For inductee Billy Edd Wheeler, higher education spurred his song writing career.
“Warren Wilson College is one of my great enablers,” he said.
Wheeler was playing off inductee John D. Loudermilk’s toast.
“We’re all here because somebody else assisted us, man, we can’t make it by ourselves,” he said. “So I’d like all of you to take your glass of water or whatever you are drinking and let’s give a toast to the enablers, the ones who helped us get here.”
A Durham native, Loudermilk is also a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Maceo Parker said being inducted Thursday meant a lot to him because it’s a testament to his primary goal as a musician, reaching people.
“This says perhaps I have done something to touch somebody,” he said. “That’s a great feeling.”
Parker, a Kinston native, played saxophone for James Brown for more than 20 years.
Billy “Crash” Craddock was surprised to be inducted into the hall of fame. Growing up in Greensboro, he never imagined that he’d one day go from rocking a broom as a make believe guitar to strumming the real thing.
“It’s wonderful. I never thought I’d be inducted into any kind of hall of fame,” he said. “Never thought I’d be in the music business period. I was never one of those people who knew what I wanted to do.”
Billy Scott, an N.C. Music Hall of Fame board member, said he was pleased with the talent inducted Thursday at the Core Lab building on the N.C. Research Campus.
“They are all well deserving of the induction,” he said. “We look forward to this each and every year because it brings something special to Kannapolis.”
2011 Hall of Fame inductees
• Anthony Dean Griffey — Opera tenor from High Point
• Ben Folds — Alternative rock singer, songwriter and instrumentalist from Winston-Salem
• Billy “Crash” Craddock — Country and pop performer from Greensboro
• Billy Edd Wheeler — Country songwriter from Swannanoa
• Clyde Moody — Bluegrass singer and instrumentalist from Cherokee. He died April 7, 1989.
• John D. Loudermilk — Pop and country songwriter from Durham
• Maceo Parker — Funk, rap and hip hop saxophonist from Kinston
• Michael English — Southern gospel and contemporary Christian from Kenansville
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.