Over 80 West Virginian musicians honored

Over 80 musicians honored at West Virginia All Black Schools Sports and Academics Hall of Fame (WCHS/WVAH)

Hundreds gathered at the Embassy Suites in Charleston Friday night for the 8th West Virginia All Black Schools Sports and Academics Hall of Fame.

This year the event was transformed into a 'Celebration of the Arts.’ Over 80 musicians were honored for their achievements.

"We will preserve this history. 100 years from now, their children’s, children’s children will be able to read about them and the history that they made,” Helen Jackson-Gillison, president of the West Virginia All Black Schools Sports and Academics Hall of Fame said.

All inductees are from or have ties to West Virginia. Like Sonny Turner, lead singer of The Platters, singer Spyder Turner whose hit song was "Stand by Me" and John Ellison, holder of the Guinness World record of the most recorded song, “Some Kind of Wonderful.”

Ellison said he is honored to be a part of the event. "A lot of talent here, especially in West Virginia, that still hasn’t been uncovered. And to be a part of this, being from West Virginia, to be among all my colleagues that are also very talented."

Also on the list is the great jazz pianist Bob Thompson. "We need art, we need music and to establish that kind of legacy and recognize a lot of those folks who came before us I think it’s really important,” Thompson said.

90-year old retired jazz pianist, Arthur “Art” Simmons was also recognized. "I’m happy to be amongst such an elite group," he said.

Simmons played with several big names while living in Paris. This event shows all of the talent that comes out of the mountain state.

"I love West Virginia and I love my friends and it’s good to be around and to be back home," Simmons said.

Two of our very own Eyewitness News employee were also inducted. R&B group Stratus was honored. Jo Loyd is a member of that band. Also, William Jackson III who is a minister of music was on that list of musicians. Both are master control operators at WCHS-TV. They said all of the hard work really pays off on nights like this one.

"Well its great because Stratus has been together 42 years 4 of us have been together 40 years so it’s a great honor," Loyd said.

"It feels amazing, we don't get honored enough, so this is a great feeling to be honored amongst the state of West Virginia," Jackson said.

The event continues on Saturday and all inductees will receive their awards then.

Here is the full list of musicians being inducted (written by the West Virginia All Black Schools Sports and Academics Hall of Fame): "We honor our Black Artists who have accomplished on the International stage like our Co-Host, Spyder Turner, soul singer, formerly from Beckley WV with his signature hit "Stand By Me"; John Ellison, holder of the Guinness Book of World Records for the most recorded song in History and the 3rd most played song in the world, formerly from Fayette County ,WV, this guitarist and singer wrote "Some Kind Wonderful". Sonny Turner, Formerly from Fairmont, WV, lead singer for the Platters with his signature song "Only you;. Ms. Priscilla Price, singing the blues for United States Presidents, Queens, Princes, Prime Ministers and other heads of state and is the daughter of a West Virginia coal miner; Jazz Bass Violin Player, Hubert S."Rabbit" Jones, the West Virginia Symphony's Principal Bass Violin Chair was endowed under his name and he was born in Laing, WV; Arthur Simmons, formerly of Glen White, WV, piano, composer, arranger, accompanist and recording artist in France; Stratus, 40 years together, Charleston's best-known R&B, Jazz & Funk Group, performed internationally; Pianist and former organist for Otis Redding, Jackie Hairston from Bluefield, WV; Clarence Palmer, organist, pianist and vocalist, performed internationally; Bob Thompson, national and international artist, inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame; Bob Redd, graduate of Berklee School of Music ,accomplished Trumpet player, plays classical, jazz and rap. He has played on the national and international stage; Dr. W. James Abbington Jr., Doctor of Musical Arts, Church Music and Organ, named as a Fellow of the Hymn Society, the highest honor given by The Hymn Society in the US and Canada; "The Black Diamond", Theron Denson, the only Black Neil Diamond tribute singer with a fan base that is worldwide; Percy Giles and Zane and Derrick Giles, his sons, musicians, producers, songwriters and world renown entrepreneurs; C. Eddie Cooper, international performing artist , who performed for the US troops overseas. Stroll down the Red Carpet Processional with our accomplished artists from The National and State Stage: Keyboardist, Arnold J. Palmer & Family; Warren Tyler, Guitar player; Dugan Carter, Jr., Sax; India White-Carter, Vocalist (P); Billy Saunders(P) played Bass Violin, Cello and Guitar in the family band," Kats and Fiddle", recorded with Magione Brothers and played with Rusty Bryant's and accompanied Nancy Wilson; Gospel singer, Paulette Siggers-Brown leader of the Brown Singers; The "Kool Kats" Rueben Siggers (P), Ephrigm Siggers (P), Bernard Byars (P), Billy Jo Mims; (P)Frank Thompson (P) famous drummer; MacDonald Cary & Family, Pianist; Timothy M. Courts, Drummer with Bob Thompson Unit, plays Keyboard; William Jackson ,III, Gospel , organist and pianist; Jay Edwards, Keyboard; Vocalist, Songwriter and Entertainer; Spurgie Hankins & Family; Vocalist; Kai Haynes, Electric Bass Guitar; James Howard (P)and Ramona Howard Hunter (P), Pianist; Ron Hughes, sax and flute; Blues musician Nat Reese (P); Michael Orr aka "Black Bach" is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and producer. .Jamal Orr, co-writer with dad, Michael on hit "Put It On Paper "was nominated for Grammy; Bass Guitar player; Maurice Pleasant & Family; Drummer, Warren Pope, Jr., & Family; Trumpet Jazz player, Dean Alan Simms & Family; Bishop Clarence Moore, internationally-traveled preacher ,teacher and evangelist ; Bishop Samuel Moore. named to Who's Who among American Colleges and Universities and Tri-Cities African-American Citizen of the Year; Gail Kennedy, Only Black female band director in the state; Otis Hughes (P) trumpet player and band director; Ryan Kennedy, guitar player and graduate of Berklee School of Music; Benjamin Starks (P) & Family founded the Beacon Journal, its successor the West Virginia Beacon Digest is West Virginia's only surviving African-American newspaper. We will acknowledge our Legends, Tomorrow Inc., Voices Against Drug Abuse, a group of school age girls, in the 80's, under the direction of The Founder, Judy Price, formed the first all black cheering squad in state of West Virginia, dedicated and devoted to speaking out against drug abuse through their cheering. WV ABSSA honors them for their legend and historical accomplishments. The Group performed on ESPN and all over the state. Inductees include Founder, Judy Price, Alesha Elzy Jones; Monique Fyall; Monika Drayton; Erica Peck Nickens; Traci Atkins Philips;Tia Palmer; Mira Adams; Leslie Scott and Leisha English Gibson."

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