The program on May 25th will begin at 5:30PM with the statue reveal and dedication.
The public is invited to attend and there is no admission.
Friends of Etta Memorial Concert at 6:30.
Tickets are required for the concert and can be purchased at CoMMAOnline.org.
Guests include: Sam Tate, Emcee. Laura Blackley; “Larry Moore and the Crowns of Light”; “Edward Phifer, Bobby Denton & Allen Van Noppen”
The evening ends on a big note as
“David Holt and the Lightning Bolts” take the stage.
Event Information and tickets: CoMMAOnline.org .
Questions – please call BAC, Deborah Jones 828-433-7282 or
CoMMA, Dr. Jim Smith: 828-433-7469
Etta Baker was a treasure not only to Morganton but more importantly, to the world of the Piedmont Blues style of music. Born into a musical family in March, 1913, Etta Lucille Reid was one of eight children. Etta learned to play hymns, rags, parlor music, and Tin Pan Alley songs from her father, Boone Reid. Boone, who learned to play music from his father, was Etta’s lifelong teacher and mentor.
Etta often played at dances and parties with her father and sister but gave up her public performing when she married Lee Baker in 1936. She continued to play for her family and friends and at home for her nine children.
A chance meeting with scholar and balladeer, Paul Clayton in 1956 led to Etta’s first appearance on a recording. This record was said to influence many rising stars like Bob Dylan and Taj Mahal during the 60’s folk revival. After the Clayton recording, Etta went back to raising her family and playing for family and friends only. Lee died in 1967, and after 24 years of working at Skyland Textile Company, Etta retired in 1973 to focus on her music. In 1991 she released her first album, “One Dime Blues”. Etta went on to release three more albums.
Etta’s two-finger style of playing guitar follows in the tradition of other great Piedmont guitarists. Etta was known for her beautiful arrangement and driving rhythm. She received numerous honors and awards for her guitar and banjo playing including the North Carolina Heritage Award from the North Carolina Arts Council in 1989, the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship Award in 1991, and the North Carolina Award in 2003.
Etta continued to play into her nineties. She passed away on September 23, 2006 at the age of 93.
On Thursday, May 25, a larger-than-life sized bronze sculpture will grace CoMMA’s grounds and serve as the crowning touch to the Etta Baker Memorial which is located in the lobby of the City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium (CoMMA).
A national competition for the statue was managed by the Burke Arts Council in collaboration with the Etta Baker Committee, which included members of Etta’s family. The commission was awarded to Thomas Jay Warren of Rogue River, Oregon. Jay is an elected member of the National Sculpture Society and a member of Portrait Sculptors Society of America. We are delighted that Jay will be in attendance at the dedication. More information on the artist can be found on his website, warrensculpture.com.
Funding for the project was made possible by the generous support of the City of Morganton, Morganton Savings Bank, and numerous private gifts.
The Bronze statue will be placed on Tennessee Red Limestone beside CoMMA. The location will feature flowers from Etta’s residence