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T. Michael Coleman Among New Inductees Named at 13th Annual Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame In Wilkes County

No stranger to the High Country, regional musician/tradition bearer, T. Michael Coleman, was among those named to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame recently. Coleman grew up in Mayodan, playing sports and singing in church. When he was in the seventh grade at basketball practice a new music group, The Beatles, came over the transistor radio and inspired him to be part of a couple of combos the rest of his public school years. This awakening put him on a path that he would follow the rest of this life. In college, at Appalachian State University in Boone, he developed an appreciation of folk music. He followed his music path a little ways down the road to Deep Gap when he began playing and touring with Doc and Merle Watson. With that dynamic duo, he toured the world and participated in many Grammy-nominated and Grammy- awarded recordings, many of which he produced.  After 15 years, the path led Coleman to perform and record with the Seldom Scene in Washington, DC. This branched off to Chesapeake and other music projects such as “Ready For The Times” with Bryan Sutton and David Holt. Coleman also played with Johnny Cash. He rejoined Doc Watson and toured again with him till the end of Doc’s life. Coleman also has solo recording projects in his own right.  Photo by Monty Combs

By Sherrie Norris 

In its ongoing efforts to promote and preserve local musicians of all genres from across the region, the Wilkes Heritage Museum hosted the 13th Annual Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Friday, June 18,  at the Wilkes Heritage Museum in Wilkesboro.

According to museum director, Jennifer Furr, since the originally scheduled June 2020 event was postponed, this year’s ceremony celebrated the 2020 inductees, which include:  

  • Chet Atkins (Nationally Known Artist) 
  • Samantha Bumgarner (Master Musician and Tradition Bearer)
  • Grayson and Whitter (Pioneer Artists)
  • T. Michael Coleman (Sideman and Regional Musician)
  • County Records (Recording Industry)
  • Bob Kogut (Luthier).  
  • The 2020 Dr. T. R. Bryan Wilkes County Heritage Music Award recipient went to Linda Cabe.

Furr shared that The Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame exists to showcase and preserve the rich musical heritage of the greater Blue Ridge Mountains area — from northern Georgia to northern Virginia.  “The Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame educates, defines and interprets the history of music in the region with exhibits, an annual celebration of inductees, recordings of performances and an interactive database,” she added.

Held at the Wilkes Heritage Museum located in historic downtown Wilkesboro, the induction ceremony offered an evening of entertainment at its best, with performances by house band, Virginialina, (members David Johnson, Eric Ellis, Scott Gentry, and Scott Freeman), along with Elkville String Band, Bob Kogut with the Kruger Brothers, Eliza Meyer, Brushy Mountain Buddies, Mike Palmer with Ben Holbrook Billy Gee and Jeff Moore, T. Michael Coleman, and Cindy Baucom who also served as emcee for the evening.  

Sponsors for this year’s event included the Town of Wilkesboro, Marilyn Payne, Arnold and Rebecca Lakey, Main Street Music and Loan, Brame Huie Pharmacy, A-1 Self Storage, Law Offices of Timothy D. Welborn, Jim and Rose Andrews, Kirk Gunton, Ann Showalter, Designs by Whitley, and R. G. Absher. 

Choosing Inductees For Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame

According to Furr, choosing inductees into The Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame begins with a nominating committee that maintains a list of potential candidates in each category. A selection committee made up of industry professionals from around the country goes through two rounds of voting for the winning candidates, narrowing the list down to 10 names for each category and then five.  All votes are tallied by Ballot Bin. 

Candidates for election to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame shall meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Those who achieved acclaim as songwriters, master musicians, national or regional performers in any form of musical heritage who were either born in or near the Blue Ridge Mountain region; 
  • Or who were substantially active in the region for a substantial period of time within the region and who contributed to the music of the region, including luthiers, organizers and promoters, sidemen and side women, media personnel, dancers and callers, broadcasters, recording engineers and record company operators. This includes those who helped expand the appreciation for the music of the Blue Ridge region, primarily old-time, bluegrass, piedmont blues and sacred music.
  • In addition, the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame committee may, by unanimous vote, select Honorary Inductees based on the level of commitment and support certain individuals have given to creating and implementing the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame.
 Playing with  Eliza Meyer are three members of Virginialina: Scott Freeman on mandolin, David Johnson, guitar and Scott Gentry on bass. Photo by Monty Combs
Ashe County native and well-known music promotor/event and radio host Cindy Baucom, is pictured with band members of Virginialina during a recent performance at the 13th annual Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Wilkes County. Photo by Monty Combs
A ceremony tradition continues with some of the event’s musical guests coming together for a jam session at the end of the event. They performed “Will the Circle be Unbroken” and “I’ll Fly Away. Photo by Monty Combs

About The Wilkes Heritage Museum

The Wilkes Heritage Museum collects and preserves historic structures, artifacts, and documents of Wilkes County and serves as a resource center for every Wilkes County citizen and visitor.  Through exhibits, educational programs, performances, and research, the Wilkes Heritage Museum interprets the history of Wilkes County and western North Carolina. 

Wilkes Heritage Museum is located at 100 East Main Street in Wilkesboro. 

For more information about The Wilkes Heritage Museum and the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame, call 336-667-3171 or go to www.wilkesheritagemuseum.com