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The Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame 2016 Class of Inductees

Class of 2016 | Class of 2015 | Class of 2014 | Class of 2013 | Class of 2012

Class of 2012 - 2015 Slideshow


Greg Abate began his musical education studying clarinet and alto sax in the Woonsocket Public Schools system and then enrolled at the Berklee College of Music. His primary influences were the modern jazz stylist Paul Desmond and be-bop innovator Charlie Parker. Upon graduating, he played lead alto with the legendary Ray Charles for two years in the mid-1970s then returned to Rhode Island to launch his own career. He formed the fusion band Channel One and released his first album, Without Boundaries, in 1981. After spending two years with the Artie Shaw Orchestra in the mid-1980s, he embarked on a solo career showcasing his unique, hard post-bop style which has brought him worldwide acclaim. He was dubbed “The Prince of Be-Bop” by jazz impressario John Chan and has released nearly two dozen albums as a leader. His 2002 album Evolution and his 2014 release Motif both placed high on jazz charts around the globe and Mike Joyce of The Washington Post wrote that “Greg Abate is considered by jazz writers and aficionados to be one of the most exciting saxophone players out there today.” He has collaborated and/or recorded with dozens of the all-time greats including Phil Woods, Richie Cole, Jerome Richardson, Kenny Barron and Claudio Roditi. He is an adjunct professor of Jazz Studies at Rhode Island College and conducts workshops and master classes throughout the United States and Europe. He continues to tour internationally and is currently recording for Whaling City Sound. His latest release is Kindred Spirits, a collaboration with Phil Woods recorded live at Chan’s in Greg’s hometown of Woonsocket.

FRANKIE CARLE (1903-2001)

Frankie Carle, born Francis Carlone in Providence, Rhode Island in 1903, is one of the most successful artists in Rhode Island music history. As a composer, he wrote "Sunrise Serenade,” Glenn Miller's million-selling hit in 1939; as a musician, he was the featured pianist for Horace Heidt's popular band in the early 1940s; and as the conductor of his own big band, he became a star. From 1944 ’til the end of the decade, he totaled 23 chart records including two #1 hits in 1946, both of which featured his daughter, billed as Marjorie Hughes, as the vocalist. When the big band era ended, "The Wizard of the Keyboard" turned out a slew of popular instrumental albums. He was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for recording in 1960 and was inducted into the Big Band & Jazz Hall of Fame in 1989.



Singer/songwriter/storyteller Bill Harley began performing in 1975. He launched his career as a children’s performer from Providence in 1980 and the following year, he and his wife and manager, Debbie Block, were two of the founders of the Stone Soup Coffeehouse. In 1984, they created Round River Records to release Bill's first album, Monsters In The Bathroom. His star rose rapidly and over the course of the next three decades, he has released nearly three dozen best-selling albums. He is one of the most successful musicians in the history of the genre and in 1990 Entertainment Weekly dubbed him “the Mark Twain of contemporary children’s music.” He is a two-time Grammy award winner taking home trophies for Blah Blah Blah in 2007 and Yes To Running! in 2009. But Harley defies the description of a strictly “children’s music” artist. Along the way, he has lent his voice, in the tradition of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, to social, environmental and political causes and has released five albums of adult folk music. He has had an equally successful career as an author, storyteller and NPR commentator/host and has won dozens of awards including Gold and Silver Parents’ Choice awards and the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio’s highest honor, the Platinum award. In 2010, he was the recipient of the Rhode Island Humanities Council Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2015 an Honorary Degree from Hamilton College.

CARL HENRY (1920-1986)

Carl Henry was the disc jockey who introduced Rhode Islanders to the sounds of Rock ’n’ Roll in the 1950s. From 1952 until the end of the decade, his radio shows on WRIB and WPAW exposed the "hidden sounds" of Rhythm & Blues to everyone who cared to listen, but it wasn't until the mid-1950s that Caucasian teenagers glommed onto him with a passion. He was a true Rock ’n’ Roll pioneer. His Providence record shop, "Carl's Diggins" (originally adjacent to the Celebrity Club in Randall Square then later on North Main Street), was open from 1952 to 1985 and was the hot spot to find those great discs. He was also a concert promoter (he brought The Rolling Stones to the Loew’s State Theatre in 1964) and was a lifelong jazz aficionado and champion of jazz musicians. Cleveland and New York City had Alan Freed, Buffalo had George "The Hound" Lorenz and Rhode Island had Carl Henry!




Jazz vocalist Carol Sloane grew up in Smithfield and began her professional career in 1951 singing with Rhode Island society band leader Ed Drew. She first gained national attention in the late 1950s when she joined the orchestra of Larry Elgart with whom with she recorded for RCA Victor. In 1961, Jon Hendricks of the legendary vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, who had become a fan of Carol’s after hearing her at a jazz festival, helped her secure her first booking at The Village Vanguard opening for Oscar Peterson. He next convinved the producers of the Newport Jazz Festival to include her in their “New Stars” program that summer, a showcase for emerging talent. She garnered rave reviews for her performance and was heard by a representative of Columbia records. Columbia signed her and she recorded an album a few months later. Released in 1962, Out Of The Blue was unanimously praised by the press and launched her on a solo career which has continued for nearly six decades. She has recorded more than two dozen critically acclaimed, internationally released albums as a leader in the company of dozens of jazz legends and giants including Clark Terry, Tommy Flanagan, Bob Brookmeyer, Art Farmer, Jim Hall, Sir Roland Hanna, Ben Webster and Phil Woods, just to name a few, and continues to perform. In a 2007 review of her album “Dearest Duke,” Matt Schudel of The Washington Post wrote, ”If Carol Sloane isn't America's greatest living jazz singer, then no one deserves the title."


Raymond “Sugar Ray” Norcia is a world-renowned, award-winning blues vocalist, songwriter, harmonica player and band leader. He began his career on the Stonington, CT/Westerly, RI scene in the 1970s. In 1979, he moved to Rhode Island and formed The Bluetones with keyboardist Anthony Geraci, drummer Neil Gouvin, bassist Michael “Mudcat” Ward and guitarist Ronald “Ronnie Earl” Horvath who was replaced by Kid Bangham after one EP release on Baron. The band enjoyed great success as a touring act in the 1980s culminating in two national releases for Rounder Records in 1989 and 1991. The band was put on hold for several years after Ray accepted an offer in 1991 to join Roomful of Blues with whom he recorded several albums including the Grammy nominated Turn It On, Turn It Up in 1996. Geraci formed his own successful unit, Little Anthony & The Loco-Motives, during this period, releasing two albums and touring nationally. Ray left Roomful in 1998 and reconvened The Bluetones for a series of albums which has put them at the top of the international blues scene. Guitarist Michael “Monster Mike” Welch, a star in his own right since his teens with a series of national releases, joined in 2002 and the group celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2014. Their current album, Living Tear To Tear, is a best-seller which received an unprecedented seven Blues Music Award nominations.

RICHARD WALTON (1928-2012)

Richard Walton was a college professor, the author of twelve books and a newspaper reporter with a lifelong passion for music. His life focus was social and political activism and his ability to create and sustain community. He grew up in Providence and graduated from Brown in 1951 then wrote for The Providence Journal and broadcast as a jazz disc jockey on WICE interviewing musical giants such as Louis Armstrong as they came through town. From 1955 to 1967, he worked in New York City as a reporter and a broadcaster maintaining his jazz contacts and developing new ones within the progressive folk community with essential artists such as Jack Hardy, Dave Van Ronk and Rosalie Sorrels. He returned to Rhode Island in 1981 and gradually became involved in the Stone Soup Coffeehouse. He recognized the connection between music and organizing and viewed music as an expression of a community and of a particular community of people that viewed folk music as a comment on our culture. When they incorporated, Richard Walton became the first president of the Stone Soup Folk Arts Foundation, a position he held for fifteen years. Acting as host and MC at every show, Richard’s colorful persona and ever-present red bandana put a face on the organization and he became known as “the voice of Stone Soup.” He opened his home to the touring artists as they came through town helping to build a nationwide network of support. He mentored many young musicians and his policy of inclusion provided encouragement to emerging artists such as Holly Near and Cheryl Wheeler. He extended these principles out into the music community at large during his tenure on the board of the Pawtucket Arts Festival and at his legendary birthday parties which raised large sums of money for his favorite progressive causes. His legacy continues through Stone Soup and the community he inspired and is celebrated through the Red Bandana Fund, an annual financial award made to an organization or individual whose work best represents the ideals of peace and social justice that exemplify Richard's life’s work.


In the 1970s, the Rhode Island original rock music scene was defined by two bands, The Fabulous Motels and The Young Adults. Both groups featured singer/songwriter Bruce “Rudy Cheeks” McCrae, singer/songwriter/drummer Dave “Sport Fisher” Hansen and songwriter/pianist Jeff Shore. Formed in 1970, the Motels, which also featured actor Charles Rocket on vocals and accordian and artist Dan Gosch on toy drums and other visual embellishments, performed their unique blend of music and comedy at colleges and underground clubs throughout the Northeast and in Manhattan. When no record deal materialized, the group disbanded in 1973. McCrae, Hansen and Shore reconvened in 1975 to form The Young Adults. They mined similar territory to the Motels, but there was a new focus on the musical aspects with some of Rhode Island’s finest players passing through the ranks until their 1979 breakup including guitarist Ed Vallee and bassist/guitarist Thom Enright. The Adults were enormously popular and successful. They enjoyed a regional hit with their indie single “Complex World;” they were featured in two nationally released motion pictures by director Jim Wolpaw, the documentary Cobra Snake For A Necktie and the musical comedy/action picture (It’s A) Complex World for which they reunited in 1987; and had one national album release, the Complex World soundtrack Helping Others. The true legacy of the two bands, however, is their far-flung influence on the Rhode Island arts scene - they have been cited as an inspiration by dozens of musicians including the Talking Heads and The Probers and by film makers Peter and Bobby Farrelly. Since 1980, Rudy Cheeks has enjoyed a diverse career in media working as a newspaper columnist, a radio talk show personality, host of a musical comedy television show and a nightclub entertainer and is highly regarded as a champion of the arts. He continues to pursue his musical vision.


Class of 2016 | Class of 2015 | Class of 2014 | Class of 2013 | Class of 2012

Class of 2012 - 2015 Slideshow


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