Tickets still available for 25th Anniversary of NC Heritage Awards

Experience three concerts rooted in the state’s music heritage in one evening, Tuesday May 20, when bluegrass fiddler Bobby Hicks; legendary jazz, rhythm and blues musician Bill Myers and Native American flute virtuoso Arnold Richardson are honored.

Tickets for the North Carolina Heritage Awards, scheduled Tuesday, May 20 in Raleigh, are available by calling PineCone at (919) 664-8302.

Bobby Hicks (Madison County), Bill Myers (Wilson County), and Arnold Richardson (Halifax County) will be joined on stage by friends and family for a convergence of three distinct musical genres rooted in North Carolina’s cultural heritage.

Additionally, beautiful weavings by Susan Morgan Leveille (Jackson County) and distinctive pottery by Sid Luck (Moore County) will be displayed on stage during the awards ceremony scheduled at 8 p.m. at the Fletcher Opera Theater, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, in Raleigh.

Musicians who played with the James Brown Band, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill and Otis Redding will also be on stage for the 25th anniversary of the North Carolina Heritage Awards supporting this year’s recipients during performances.

“Nowhere else in North Carolina will you see this combination of outstanding musicians on stage during one evening,” said Arts Council Folklife Director Sally Peterson. “The chance to enjoy three of the most important music traditions generated in our state is a rare opportunity.”

The North Carolina Heritage Award is open to the public and will be held at the A.J. Fletcher Opera House in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh. Tickets are $22 available from PineCone, Piedmont Council of Traditional Arts, by calling (919) 664-8302.

About the recipients: 

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. 

Susan Morgan Leveille, Weaver (Dillsboro, Jackson County)

Susan Morgan Leveille immersed herself in the culture of weaving from a young age. She first sat at a loom to weave at age seven and quickly grew to be a skilled craftsperson. Her family lineage made her destined for equal skill as a teacher, scholar, and advocate of the fiber arts tradition in Western North Carolina. 

Ms. Leveille’s great-aunt, Lucy Morgan, founded the Penland School of Craft and devoted herself to reviving weaving traditions in North Carolina’s mountains. Through association with Penland, the Mountain Heritage Center, and numerous schools and colleges, Ms. Leveille has continued to strengthen and disseminate the art of weaving. In the process, she has instructed dozens of both professional and aspiring weavers over the last four decades. Her own work has been widely displayed, and Ms. Leveille has owned a gallery in Dillsboro for many years. Ms. Leveille has devoted a lifetime to the development of the arts and crafts industry in Western North Carolina. 

“Weaver Susan Leveille’s legacy extends way beyond her exquisite weaving," said Peterson. "She has taught countless others to develop artistically and her advocacy efforts for the traditional arts have helped many to supplement their income through craft production.”

Sid Luck, Potter (Seagrove, Moore County)

A fifth-generation potter from the historic pottery region of Seagrove, Sid Luck learned at the wheels of his father, grandfather, and numerous other potters who populated the area during his youth. Starting at the age of 12, Mr. Luck worked at Cole’s pottery where he developed the speed and precision of a production potter. Knowing that a career in pottery was unlikely, Mr. Luck served in the Marines before going to college and then taught chemistry and science for 18 years. Throughout his career as a teacher, Mr. Luck continued making pottery in his spare time, eventually building a shop onto his property. 

In 1990, Sid Luck retired from teaching to make pottery full time. In the years since, he has become one of the most prolific and beloved potters in North Carolina. In addition to operating Luck’s Wares six days a week, Mr. Luck also finds time to mentor aspiring potters of all ages. He regularly takes apprentices from across the state and country, and directs the Traditional Arts Programs for Students (TAPS) held at the North Carolina Pottery Center. Closer to home, he is cultivating additional generations of Seagrove potters — his sons Jason and Matt are excellent artists and his young grandchildren have recently become the seventh generation of Luck potters to work in North Carolina. 

“Fifth-generation potter Sid Luck shares his time, knowledge and expertise freely with all who come his way, and his local teaching insures that pottery traditions will thrive in Seagrove for generations to come,” Peterson said.

William “Bill” Myers, Musician (Wilson, Wilson County)

For almost 60 years, Bill Myers has led his band The Monitors while continuing to educate successive generations of students as a band teacher and school administrator. As the co-founder and longtime leader of The Monitors, Mr. Myers combines vernacular musical styles of eastern North Carolina into a tightly-wound, supremely danceable sound that defies simple categorization into jazz or rhythm and blues. Mr. Myers, his band, and the music they make are so rooted in the inland east of North Carolina that they were invited to represent our state at the 2011 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

Growing up in Greenville, N.C., Bill Myers admired the music around him—at home, at church, at school and during holiday celebrations. A fascination with this music and the instruments that produced it led him to serious study of the saxophone in high school and in college. After college, Mr. Myers spent his days as a teacher and administrator in Wilson County schools, and many of his nights and weekends playing in clubs and at various community gatherings and concerts. Since retiring as an assistant school superintendent, he has devoted himself full time to making certain that the lives and music of African-American in eastern North Carolina are remembered, recognized and celebrated. 

“Bill Myers has led the jazz band the Monitors for nearly 60 years, capitalizing on the rich jazz, rhythm and blues and funk traditions of eastern North Carolina," said Peterson. "He’s a natural-born teacher as well as a musician, and he’s been a guide and a mentor not only to musicians, but to all who share his goals of strengthening community and honoring the gifts of every individual.”

Arnold Richardson, Haliwa-Saponi artist (Hollister, Halifax County)

Haliwa-Saponi artist Arnold Richardson’s efforts to revitalize the cultural heritage of eastern North Carolina’s American Indians have long been credited for the resurgence of artistic vitality among the eastern tribes. Mr. Richardson is musician and an artist working in many different indigenous artistic traditions. Throughout a career spanning more than four decades, Arnold Richardson has taught tribal arts traditions to the Haliwa-Saponi as well as educating other state recognized tribes about revitalizing their own heritage. 

A list of Mr. Richardson’s accomplishments is staggering both for its depth and breadth. Every few years finds him researching and mastering a new tradition that he then teaches to a growing number of interested students at his home and in various communities in N.C. Most recently, in addition to his prize-winning stone sculpture, pottery and beadwork, he has been recognized for the excellence of his gourd carving, an art form that he continues to perfect even while engaging in activities as varied as touring with the North Carolina Symphony and welcoming students of all ages, abilities, and ethnicities into his home in the Haliwa-Saponi community of Hollister. 

“Arnold Richardson has studied, mastered and taught many of the artistic and performance traditions that mark contemporary eastern North Carolina Indian cultural expression," said Peterson. "Many Eastern Indian artists today cite Mr. Richardson’s influence, instruction and inspiration as fundamental to their own artistic development.”