On February 12, 2016, amidst RI Music Hall of Fame’s (RIMHOF) displays of some of the state’s most talented musicians, they announced eight new inductees to be added to the club of “the greats.”
The new inductees, Greg Abate, Frankie Carle, Bill Harley, Carl Henry, Carol Sloane, Sugar Ray & The Bluetones, Richard Walton, and The Young Adults have all released multiple albums. With work in different genres and forms ranging from Abate’s Be-bop saxophone to Sloane’s contemporary jazz vocals to Bill Harley’s children’s music, each have made their own mark in the music world beyond Rhode Island. Displays highlighting their accomplishments will be installed along the brick walls of Pawtucket’s Hope Artiste Village, in RIMHOF’s museum space.
The Vice Chair of the RIMHOF, Rick Bellaire, read through the names and accomplishments of the musicians to a crowd of about 60 people. As their names were called, each recipient stood in their seats, raised a hand or gave a subtle nod of the head. Bonita Flanders of The Motels was handed flowers from the person sitting next to her, waiting patiently with the bouquet on their lap. Sugar Ray and the Bluetones dressed up in jackets and suits, as did many other inductees, and after the ceremony, they took photos together in the corridor where their pictures would soon be displayed.
There was no elaborate stage or grand wooden podium, and Bellaire’s speech was held up, fittingly, by a music stand. A dignified announcement ceremony with Rhode Island charm, and only a precursor to the larger induction ceremonies that will take place on April 21 and April 24, with accompanying concerts at The Met and Chan’s.
To be inducted to the Hall of Fame, one of the biggest criteria is making a musical splash beyond the Ocean State. Bellaire explains how many people know the musicians who are being inducted, but don’t realize they are from Rhode Island, or don’t realize how significant they are in the larger music world. It’s about “staking our claim in the hierarchy of the great artists,” he said.
And the RIMHOF is setting out to do more than put pictures on a wall. With previous inductees coming back to celebrate the new ones, they are hoping to create a strengthened sense of musical community, says Chair of RIMHOF, Robert Billington. Dave Goldstein, Co-Founder of RIMHOF, explains that the displays are only the most outward expression of the work they’re doing. They also archive and collect material that is getting lost, and are hoping to leverage the attention around the Hall of Fame to create other initiatives to help the music community.
It is only the 4th year of the RIMHOF, and looking forward, Billington says they would love to move to their own building, and create three-dimensional displays to celebrate the artists and the music more permanently.
For now, Bill Harley says, with a smile, that he looks forward to coming to the farmers market to stand casually in front of his display, and wait for someone to notice.