Saturday night, the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame will honor another class of musicians in an awards show and concert at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston.
The ceremony will honor three living and three dead artists, including Michael W. Smith, Ann Magnuson, The Morris Brothers, Hasil Adkins, Frank Hutchison and Fred “Sonic” Smith.
Michael Lipton, the director of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, said this seventh class might be the most diverse the organization has ever seen.
“Michael W. Smith and Fred Smith kind of bookend this thing,” he said. “On the one side, you have a superstar of Christian music. On the other, there’s this guy who was a giant in anarchist rock ‘n’ roll.”
Another contrast, Lipton said was Magnuson and Adkins.
“[Magnuson] has done about everything you can do in media,” he said. “She’s done film, television, recorded music and worked as a journalist. She’s also kept West Virginia as part of her body of work — her one-woman shows, particularly.”
Adkins, Lipton said, was kind of the quintessential West Virginia wild man.
“But not especially well-known where he lived,” he said. “People couldn’t imagine the following he had in Europe and around the country.”
All of this goes together in interesting and unexpected ways, he said. For instance, Jesse and Jackson Smith, along with their mother, poet and rock icon Patti Smith, will accept the award on behalf of their father, Fred Smith, but they are fans of Michael W. Smith.
“Apparently, at the school they attended in Detroit, they learned one of his songs,” Lipton said. “They learned to sing it and also to sign to it.”
Saturday’s event will be broadcast live on West Virginia Public Broadcasting, which Lipton said has been an important partnership for the hall of fame.
“It creates a document,” he said. “They make it bigger than what we could be on our own, and gets what we do out to more than the 400 or so people who will be in the audience at the Culture Center.”
Past ceremonies have honored a wide range of performers, including Connie Smith, George Crumb, Kathy Mattea and Bill Withers.
While inductions into the hall of fame are only held every other year or so, Lipton said the nomination process is ongoing. The hall is always sifting through potential artists with West Virginia ties to honor, but it looks to the public for guidance.
“It’s pretty simple,” he said. “There’s a form online you can fill out, where you can make the case.”
This year’s ceremony will be hosted by actor Michael Cerveris and Wheeling native Mollie O’Brien.
The event will include performances by Patti, Jesse and Jackson Smith; Tim O’Brien; Southern Culture on the Skids; John Ellison; and Alan Griffith.
It will also feature appearances by Kate Pierson of The B-52s and a video presentation from Paul Reubens, of PeeWee Herman fame.
The living inductees for 2018 include:
Wayne County, Michael W. Smith
A three-time Grammy winner, Michael W. Smith has been one of the most prominent performers in contemporary Christian music.
He grew up in Kenova, but he left West Virginia for Nashville, Tennessee, in 1978 to pursue music. In Nashville, he struggled with drug and alcohol problems before reaffirming his Christian faith and joining the band Higher Ground.
Smith went on to write songs for other contemporary Christian artists and became a solo artist.
Over the course of his career, he has released 22 studio albums, five live albums, and appeared as a guest or collaborated on dozens of records.
His latest album, “Surrounded,” is scheduled for release Feb. 23.
Kanawha County, Ann Magnuson
A performance artist, nightclub performer and actress, Magnuson began performing in the downtown club scene of New York City in the late 1970s.
During her career, she founded several bands, including Bongwater and the satirical metal group Vulcan Death Grip, while pursuing a varied film career.
As an actress, Magnuson appeared in “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “Panic Room,” “Tank Girl” and most recently “Mansfield 66/67.”
Clay County, The Morris Brothers
John and David Morris left their mark on mountain music in West Virginia through their playing and through their support of the old-time music community.
The brothers began performing together in the 1960s, but after David Morris returned from Vietnam in 1968, the pair began organizing music gatherings, beginning with the Morris Family Old-Time Music Festival in 1969.
They were also instrumental in the forming of the Vandalia Gathering in 1977.
The brothers’ music was featured in Barbara Kopple’s 1976 film “Harlan County, USA.”
David Morris, who died in 2016, contributed music to “Shelter,” Kopple’s 2015 film about Vietnam veterans. John Morris still plays fiddle at music events across West Virginia.
The hall will also honor three deceased artists with roots in West Virginia.
Boone County, Hasil Adkins
Born in 1937, Adkins grew up poor. His parents couldn’t afford to buy him shoes until he was 5 years old.
Lacking a formal education, the colorful and frequently troubled country, rock and rockabilly performer, helped pioneer psychobilly music, a frantic style that fuses rockabilly and punk rock.
Adkins began performing in the mid-1950s and was active through the end of his life.
He died in 2005 at the age of 67.
Raleigh County, Frank Hutchison
Hutchison was born in Raleigh in 1897, but he grew up in Logan County, where he later worked as a coal miner.
He continued to work as a miner off and on, even as he became a slide guitar player and began playing professionally.
Hutchison performed and recorded mainly in the late 1920s and is credited with being the first rural white guitarist to record the blues.
He died in 1945 at the age of 54.
Lincoln County, Fred “Sonic” Smith
Smith was born in 1948, but he spent much of his youth in Detroit, where he picked up the guitar at the age of 12.
In the 1960s, Smith helped form the influential Motor City 5 and later led several other bands, including Ascension and Sonic’s Rendezvous Band.
After marrying poet and rock star Patti Smith in 1980, the two retired from active touring by the mid-1980s.
Smith died in 1988 at the age of 45.