North Carolina has a rich and varied musical heritage, honored each year at the N.C. Music Hall of Fame. The pandemic, however, forced the cancellation of last year’s ceremony, making this year’s Thursday, Oct. 21, gathering in Kannapolis a special double induction ceremony.
“We have about 400 names on our list to choose from every single year,” says Executive Director Veronica Cordle. To be considered, she explains, one must have sustained national recognition in the music industry for over a decade and be a North Carolina native or have a significant connection to the state.
Past honorees include such towering figures as Nina Simone, Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson, Warren Haynes, George Clinton and John Coltrane.
In anticipation of the 2021 ceremony, Xpress offers a look at this year’s inductees with direct ties to Buncombe County.
“I have a moment of pride and gratitude every time someone tells me that my music moved them, gave them courage, changed their life,” writes Roberta Flack in an email exchange with Xpress.
Born in Black Mountain in 1937, Flack is known for her run of hit singles, including 1972’s “The First Time I Saw Your Face,” 1973’s “Killing Me Softly with His Song” and 1974’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love.”
The versatile Flack, who was championed early in her career by soul-jazz legend Les McCann, landed albums on the pop, R&B and jazz charts. A 14-time Grammy nominee and four-time winner, she is the only solo artist to receive Record of the Year for two consecutive years, in 1972 and 1973. Since her 1969 debut, First Take, Flack has released 20 studio albums. Her latest recording is the 2018 Running.
In 2020, Flack received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. This year, the N.C. Music Hall of Fame, which inducted Flack in 2009, is doing the same.
“What sets her aside is her multiple decades of success in the music industry,” says Cordle.
Father and son
Grammy Award-winning producer, rapper and entrepreneur Jermaine Dupri was born in Asheville in 1972. At 21, he launched the label So So Def in Atlanta, where he was raised. His debut album, Life in 1472, topped the R&B charts in 1998.
Throughout his professional life, Dupri has helped launch several successful careers, including acts Kris Kross (known for such hits as “Jump” and “Warm it Up”) and Xscape (“Just Kickin’ It”).
The multitalented Dupri has also been involved in business, production and songwriting for many other high-profile artists, including Usher, Destiny’s Child, Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson. In 2015, he collaborated with Queen Latifah to create the reality television series “The Rap Game.”
Dupri’s father, Michael Mauldin, is a 2020 inductee as well. A longtime industry figure, the Murphy native is a former senior vice president of Columbia Record Group. As Cordle notes, “This is our very first [simultaneous] father and son induction.”
A first for the hall
The late Robert Moog is also being honored in the first recognition of its sort for the annual celebration. “This is the very first time that our Hall of Fame is recognizing an inventor who is is closely related to the music industry,” says Cordle.
Moog, who passed away in 2005, spearheaded development of the synthesizer that bears his name. The invention revolutionized music and paved the way for future creations, including the Minimoog, the world’s first practical and portable keyboard synthesizer — a staple of rock, funk, soul, jazz and many other genres since its 1970 debut.
Moog relocated to Asheville in 1978, where he launched Big Briar, later renamed Moog Music Inc., and became a fixture on the local scene. In 2019, the Bob Moog Foundation opened The Moogseum in downtown Asheville, dedicated to honoring and preserving Moog’s work and legacy.
“We are thrilled that he will be the first inventor of a musical instrument to be inducted and that his 1964 invention of the Moog synthesizer, which revolutionized nearly all genres of music, is recognized in this way,” says the late inventor’s daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa, who serves as the foundation’s executive director. Moog-Koussa will accept the award on her father’s behalf.
WNC and beyond
Outside of WNC, the 2020 inductees honored at this year’s gathering include The Briarhoppers, Charles Whitfield, Donald Lawrence and The Squirrel Nut Zippers. Meanwhile, the late Tony Rice joins Moog as the only other 2021 honoree. Producer and pianist Tony Brown will join Flack as a recipient of a 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Adhering to social distancing protocols, this year’s event will be limited to 300 guests. That means that the 2020/2021 N.C. Music Hall of Fame gala has something in common with its roster of inductees. “You could describe this year’s event as ‘very exclusive,’” says Cordle.
WHAT: N.C. Music Hall of Fame 2021 Induction Ceremony
WHERE: Gem Theatre, 111 W. First St., Kannapolis northcarolinamusichalloffame.org
WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 21, 7:15-10:30 p.m. $45-$90