The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame has announced that legendary banjo player and singer Charlie Poole will be inducted as a member in the 2022 class.
Poole led a short and highly volatile life, but was quite popular along with his band, The North Carolina Ramblers, in the 1920s. They performed a style of old time music that caught on with rural audiences all over the southern US, and Charlie’s unique three finger style changed how people thought of the five string banjo.
Columbia Records signed Poole and the Ramblers in 1925, and recorded a good many songs over the next six years, until Charlie died from alcohol poising in May of 1931. Milwaukee Blues, Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down, White House Blues, Sweet Sunny South, Ragtime Annie, Hungry Hash House, and Moving Day are among their recorded numbers.
Charlie’s banjo style was quite different from both the clawhammer techniques that preceded it, and the 3 finger playing of Earl Scruggs who followed. Having broken his thumb as a young man, his picking style developed as a matter of necessity.
This year’s induction is likely related to the higher visibility of late of Charlie Poole and The North Carolina Ramblers owing to a couple of collections of their music being reissued on CD, and the publication of a detailed biography, Ramblin’ Blues: The Life and Songs of Charlie Poole, by Kinney Rorer.
In truth, Charlie should have been included in the NC Music Hall of Fame’s initial set of inductees in 1999.
The Hall of Fame recognizes artists that were either born ion North Carolina, or made their home in the state. Other prominent bluegrass inductees include Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Curly Seckler, Clyde Moody, Jim Lauderdale, David Holt, and The Steep Canyon Rangers.
Also being inducted in 2022 are jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon, Gospel singer Janet Paschal, Broadway star Stephanie Mills, and bass player/producer Bernard Edwards.
The Hall of Fame will host a public induction ceremony on October 20, 2022, at the historic Gem Theatre in Kannapolis, NC. Ticket information is available online.