2024 induction ceremony at the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame

Eric Ellis, Jens Kruger, and Marc Pruett at the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame – photo © Becky Johnson

On Saturday, March 23, the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame celebrated the induction of new members Wade Mainer, Marc Pruett, E.C. & Orna Ball, Joe Wilson, WPAQ Radio, and R.G. Absher.

A part of the Wilkes Heritage Music in Wilkesboro, NC, the Hall of Fame describes its purpose as follows:

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 Blue Ridge area and musicians in all genres from the region with exhibits and an annual celebration of inductees.

The inductions were made in the following categories:

  • Nationally Known Artist – Wade Mainer
  • Pioneer Artist – E.C.& Orna Ball
  • Sideman&Regional Musician – Marc Pruett
  • Media & Scholar – WPAQ Radio
  • Special Contributor, Promoter & Organizer – Joe Wilson
  • Dr. T.R.Bryan Wilkes Heritage Music Award – R.G. Absher
  • Honorary – George Childers

Wade Mainer was a pioneering banjo player and vocalist whose career spanned both the pre-bluegrass and bluegrass music recording scenes, along with his band, the Sons of the Mountaineers. The Balls sang old time and gospel music, a la The Carter Family, from the mid 1950s through to 1975 with their group, Friendly Gospel Singers. Marc Pruett is the banjoist with Balsam Range, who has been excelling on his instrument for 50 years.

WPAQ has been broadcasting old time, gospel, and bluegrass from Mt Airy, NC since 1948. The commercial station is still in operation, reaching listeners on low power radio and now online streaming.

Folklorist Joe Wilson, who’s served many years as Executive Director of the National Council for the Traditional Arts, is also known for the work he did to help establish The Crooked Road in southwestern Virginia.

R.G. Absher is a popular western North Carolina multi-instrumentalist who has the distinction of performing at nearly every edition of MerleFest.

Becky Johnson, aka Mrs. Bluegrass, was in attendance and shared this video from the performance segment of the ceremony, and several photos.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.