Marshall fiddler Bobby Hicks will receive NC Heritage Award

From the office of Gov. Pat McCrory:

Raleigh, N.C. – Governor Pat McCrory has announced that five North Carolinians from diverse artistic traditions will be awarded the state’s Heritage Awards, May 20, 2014 at the A.J. Fletcher Opera House in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh.

The 2014 North Carolina Heritage Award recipients are: Bobby Hicks, a 10-time Grammy award-winning bluegrass fiddler; Susan Morgan Leveille, a weaver and grand-niece of Penland founder Lucy Morgan; Sid Luck, a fifth-generation potter from Seagrove; Bill Myers, whose band The Monitors has played rhythm and blues and jazz music for more than 50 years; and Arnold Richardson, a Haliwa-Saponi artist who has influenced the revitalization of North Carolina Indian arts.

“I want to congratulate this year’s winners and thank them for helping preserve our cultural heritage. Our artistic history is the foundation of the quality of life that attracts so many people to North Carolina,” Governor McCrory said. “I’m grateful to the North Carolina Arts Council, not only for their work in this program, but for ensuring the arts will continue to be a vibrant part of North Carolina’s future.”

Since 1989, the North Carolina Heritage Award has honored the folk artists of the state, deepening awareness of the stories, music, and artistry that comprise our rich and diverse cultural traditions.

“As North Carolinians, we celebrate the creative and passionate artists working within the communities of our state to keep our cultural traditions alive,” said Susan Kluttz, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. “Their mastery preserves our heritage and makes North Carolina a better state, and we are so proud of their outstanding skill, unparalleled diligence and eager willingness to share their artistry with the citizens of North Carolina and beyond.”

The Arts Council’s announcement comes on the heels of the national recognition of Sheila Kay Adams, a seventh-generation ballad singer, musicians and storyteller from Madison County, who was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in June.

A live awards presentation of the NEA Heritage Fellowship concert is scheduled Friday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. The program will include a performance by the Madison County native. Ms. Adams is one of 12 traditional artists from North Carolina that have received this national award since it began in 1982.

“The Arts Council is proud that our agency’s mission includes the documentation of cultural traditions that have been shaped and passed down over generations here in North Carolina, said Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the N.C. Arts Council. “The artists who receive this lifetime achievement award keep our citizens connected to our state’s heritage and to the extraordinary arts that flourish in every community, large in small, in the state.”

This year Pinecone, the Piedmont Council on the Traditional Arts, will partner with the Department of Cultural Resources and produce the ceremony in May 2014.

Bobby Hicks, Fiddler (Marshall, Madison County)

While growing up in a musical family in Newton, N.C., Bobby Hicks discovered a talent and a passion for the fiddle. Immersed in the string band traditions of the Western Piedmont, a young Mr. Hicks began playing as one of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys 60 years ago. In his-six year association with the Father of Bluegrass, Mr. Hicks helped pioneer the twin fiddle sound and recorded on some of the classic tunes of the genre. His five-string fiddle song left an indelible mark on the history of bluegrass music and on the generations of fiddlers who have followed in his steps.

Not content with mastery of only one genre, Bobby Hicks left Bill Monroe’s band and spent a decade playing in country and western ensembles throughout the western part of the United States. He returned again to sounds more rooted in his Catawba County upbringing in 1980 when he joined the Ricky Skaggs band. In more than 20 years as a member of that band and its successor Kentucky Thunder, Mr. Hicks played on numerous hit records that resulted in 10 Grammy awards. Since his nominal retirement as a touring musician, Mr. Hicks has resided in Madison County, N.C. From his home there he has helped to run a weekly jam in Marshall and formed a super group with other legends of bluegrass music.

“Master fiddler Bobby Hicks’ knowledge of tradition and his innovative style have been instrumental in shaping the bluegrass sound as we know it today, and his career is an example of why North Carolina plays such a large role in the story of traditional music in America,” said N.C. Folklife Director Sally Peterson.


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