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Etta Baker to be inducted into Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame

Article Published: May. 20, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Etta Baker to be inducted into Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame

The late Etta Baker will be inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame on June 12.

Photo submitted

The Wilkes Heritage Museum will host the third annual Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony on Saturday, June 12, at the John A. Walker Center on the campus of Wilkes Community College.

Mike Cross, nationally known singer, songwriter and storyteller will serve as emcee for the event. Cross has written a special song for the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame and will perform it during the ceremony.

Born in Tennessee, Mike Cross moved to Lenoir, N.C., at an early age. Now living in Chapel Hill, he is a product of the musical heritage and tradition that the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame and the Wilkes Heritage Museum is honoring and preserving.

There are six inductees this year to the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame, and they include the following: Don Reno - Nationally Known Artist; Clarence "Tom" Ashley - Pioneer Artist; Bobby Hicks - Sideman and Regional Musician; Albert Hash - Luthier; "B" Townes - Special Contributor/Organizer/Promoter; and Etta Baker - Master Musician and Tradition Bearer.

Etta Baker was born in Caldwell County in 1913. She was the product of a musical family taking up the guitar at the age of three. Taught by her father, she played traditional blues and folk songs.

Her style of blues, often referred to as "piedmont blues" made her the foremost practitioner of acoustic finger picking using an open-tuning style not much different from bluegrass banjo picking.

In 1956, she joined her father and other family members in a field recording titled "Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians." While in her 60s, Baker was "discovered" and began pursuing music professionally, hitting folk and blues festival circuits.

In 1991, 35 years after her first recording, she did "One-Dime Blues." Many felt that her performance at MerleFest in 1996 was the best performance at the renowned festival that year.

Some of her favorite stories were about taking lessons from her father as a child and gaining inspiration from him, exchanging licks with Taj Mahal, and going into the mines where John Henry actually worked. She continued performing live and recording until her death in September 2006.

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 Hall of Fame will educate, define, and interpret the history of music in the Blue Ridge area and musicians in all genres from the region with exhibits and an annual celebration of inductees. The Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame is centrally located at the Wilkes Heritage Museum in Wilkesboro/
Tickets for the June 12 Dinner and Induction Ceremony may be purchased online at or by calling the Wilkes Heritage Museum at (336) 667-3171. Rates after the early bird special expires on May 12 are $75 per person for the dinner and ceremony or $25 for the ceremony only.

"This will be a magical night with a stellar group of artists performing and paying tribute to the six inductees," a museum spokesperson said.

Master fiddle maker Bob Kogut from Lenoir has handcrafted a fiddle for the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame to raffle off at the 2010 Induction Ceremony. The fiddle is on display at the Wilkes Heritage Museum gift shop, and tickets are $5 each, 3 for $10 or 8 for $20. Ticketholders do not have to be present to win.

The Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame is under the auspices of the Wilkes Heritage Museum, where it is housed. The Wilkes Heritage Museum strives to collect and preserve 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 Inc. is a private, non-profit organization located at 100 E. Main St. in downtown Wilkesboro. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission is charged to view exhibits and tour the Old Wilkes Jail and Capt. Robert Cleveland Log Home.

For more information, contact the Wilkes Heritage Museum at (336) 667-3171 or visit or .

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