Welcome to the Class of 2017

Bios & Photos

Class of 2016

Greg Abate

Greg Abate is one of the best-selling and successful jazz musicians in Rhode Island music history.
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Frankie Carle

Frankie Carle, the “Wizard of the Keyboard,” enjoyed an international career which spanned seven decades.
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Bill Harley

Bill Harley is one of the most successful children’s music artists of all time and a two-time Grammy Winner.
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Carl Henry

Disc Jockey Carl Henry, the “Alan Freed” of Rhode Island, introduced R&B and Rock ’n’ Roll to R.I.’s teens in the 1950s.
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Carol Sloane

Jazz vocalist Carol Sloane’s appearance at the 1961 Newport Jazz Festival introduced her to an international audience.
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Sugar Ray & the Bluetones

Blues artists Sugar Ray & The Bluetones are one of the most highly-praised and successful blues acts of the modern era.
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Richard Walton

Writer/teacher Richard Walton recognized the connection between music and activism and helped build a national community of like-minded artists.
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Rudy Cheeks, Young Adults, Fabulous Motels

The Young Adults were one of the most successful and influential acts on the Rhode Island original music scene of the 1980s.
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Class of 2015

The Ascots

While students at Barrington High School in the mid-1960s, the band scored a major hit with “Midnight Hour” which sold thousands throughout New England.
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Marty Ballou

Best-described as Southern New England’s “first-call” bassist. Highly regarded nationally for his work in the jazz and blues fields, and all genres.
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Duke Belaire

After touring with name bands and drumming with the house band at The Celebrity Club, he formed his own orchestra in 1967 and is credited with keeping the big band sound alive.
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Brenda Bennett

Featured vocalist & songwriter with both of Prince’s girl group projects, and appeared in “Purple Rain.” After a two-decade layoff, she returned to the scene with her first solo album in 2011.
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Nelson Eddy

One of our country’s finest singer, over the course of his 40-year career, he enjoyed unparalleled international success singing and acting on stage, screen, radio and TV.
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Georgie Porgie & the Crybabies

The band George Leonard formed with his sisters became a fixture on the thriving 1960s discotheque scene in Manhattan which led to two national releases for Jubilee Records.
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George Masso

During his 7 decade career, George has excelled in every area of the music business – trombonist, pianist, composer, arranger, educator – recording dozens of albums as leader and sideman.
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The Others
From 1964 to 1968, this group of college students became one of the top bands in the Northeast, released three records for two major labels, and still managed to stay in school.
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Bob Petteruti

The “dean” of Rhode Island bass players. Some of the musicians he backed at The Celebrity Club and The Kings & Queens: Roy Eldridge, Bobby Hackett and Ben Webster with whom he recorded 2  albums.
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Marty Richards

His innate sense of swing and unerring sense of time have graced dozens of recordings and thousands of stages supporting performers comprising a “who’s who” of American pop music.  More >

Schemers

Mark Cutler’s Schemers were at the top of the R.I. original music scene for nearly a decade, but a record deal eluded them. His Raindogs project found major label success with 2 albums for Atco.
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George Wein

Began presenting the Newport Jazz Festival in 1954 and followed with the Newport Folk Festival in 1959. They became annual traditions and he is credited with putting Rhode Island on the map as an entertainment and cultural destination for international travelers.
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Paco Zimmer

Reached the highest levels of the entertainment business providing career and financial guidance for superstars including The Who, Kiss and the Allman Brothers. Always a staunch supporter of local music, he created Center Stage, the showcase club in East Providence.
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Class of 2014

Castaleers

Rhode Island’s pioneering R&B Vocal Group of the 1950s.
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Paul Gonsalves

The Pawtucket saxophonist was Duke Ellington’s right-hand man and was a pivotal figure in the development of modern jazz.  More >

Randy Hien

He jump-started Rhode Island’s original music scene by encouraging bands to perform their own material.
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Francis Madeira

He built the Rhode Island Philharmonic from the ground up into a world-class symphony orchestra.
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Mark II

They wrote and recorded “Night Theme,” the only international hit by a Rhode Island record company.
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Duke Robillard

After founding Roomful of Blues, he launched a solo career and became recognized as one of the all-time great blues guitarists.
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Freddie Scott

This legendary soul giant began his career singing with his grandmother’s Providence-based gospel group.
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Tavares

They rose from the street corners of Providence to become world-renowned R&B superstars.
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Cheryl Wheeler

With roots in the Newport folk scene, she became one of the country’s most successful singers and songwriters.
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Class of 2013

George M. Cohan

The Fox Point native threw off the reins of his highly successful family act during the waning days of minstrelsy & became one of the greatest composers, producers & performers of the vaudeville era.
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Cowsills

This Newport family band put Rhode Island back on the map after the British Invasion of the early 1960s and are revered around the world as early proponents of the Sunshine Pop school of rock ‘n’ roll.
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Jimmie Crane

One of the most successful composers in the history of R.I. popular music with dozens of hits recorded by major stars such as Eddie Fisher, Doris Day, Timi Yuro and Elvis Presley.
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Bill Flanagan

Music critic and historian is one of the biggest supporters of Rhode Island artists and has proven himself an innovator in music broadcasting with VH1 “Storytellers” and CMT “Crossroads.”
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Paul Geremia

Over nearly five decades and a dozen albums, this R.I. native has become one of the acknowledged masters of the folk/blues tradition putting his contemporary spin on the form.
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Bobby Hackett

Shifting focus from successful string player in the vaudeville tradition to jazz in the early 20th century, he became one of the most celebrated trumpeters in the history of the music.
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Sissieretta Jones

One of the world’s greatest sopranos in the late 19th century and the first African-American to perform at Carnegie Hall.
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Steve Smith & the Nakeds

Originally Naked Truth, Steve Smith and his rockin’ 10 piece R&B horn band have been playing for 40 years and are currently enjoying national attention with their Sony releases.
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Eddie Zack & the Hayloft Jamboree

Introduced country music to New England, became a national act recording for Decca and Columbia, and were the stars of a nationally broadcast NBC radio show.
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Class of 2012

Anders & Poncia

Became two of the most successful composers & producers of the ’60s and ’70s & participated in some of the landmark recordings of the rock ‘n’ roll era while working with Phil Spector and his “The Wall Of Sound.”
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John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band

One of the greatest rock bands of their era, big time success eluded them until a chance encounter lead to their highly acclaimed “Eddie & The Cruisers” score & multi-platinum sales & worldwide fame.
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Eileen Farrell

Eileen Farrell was one of the finest American sopranos of the 20th century performing with every major opera company and symphony orchestra in the U.S. and is one of the best-selling classical artists of all time.
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Gerry Granahan

Singer-songwriter Gerry Granahan earned 3 Gold Records in the late 1950s before moving behind the desk to become one of the most successful record producers of the 1960.
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Ken Lyon

Equally at home with acoustic & electric blues, the Newport native achieved international success with  recordings as a solo artist & leader of the many lineups of his Tombstone Blues Band.
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Dave McKenna

Noted for his incredible technique, the Pawtucket pianist also became known as one of the finest improvisers and all-around players of the post-War jazz era, equally at home as a sideman, accompanist or soloist.
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Roomful of Blues

One of the most successful r&b horn bands, Roomful launched many successful solo artists including Duke Robillard and Al Copley, remaining distinctive & popular.
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Oliver Shaw

In the early 1800s,  Prov. composer, music teacher, publisher & retailer was a nationally known powerhouse at the birth of the U.S. music industry becoming the first American-born hit songwriter.
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It was truly gratifying that the music and bands I have been involved with for most of my life had meaning to so many people. I was especially pleased that the Fabulous Motels were remembered so fondly. I think the Motels really were an important and groundbreaking band that paved the way for the Young Adults.
Rudy Cheeks
I’ve been in Roomful of Blues for the last 26 years. The band has played everywhere in the US and over 25 countries. Over the years the band has received many blues awards and 5 Grammy nominations. When we were inducted into The RI Music Hall of Fame we were really thrilled to be included. It was quite an honor for us to be amongst Rhode Island’s best! Long live The RI Music Hall of Fame.
Chris Vachon
It’s really humbling and awesome to be in the company of so many great artists from Rhode Island. To think that I may have brought joy to the life of others through my music is such a satisfying feeling! My grandkids plan on visiting the exhibits at the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame and I hope future generations may be inspired as well. Thank you.
Sugar Ray Norcia
The Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame is a window on where we’ve been and a ticket to where we’re going. I’m grateful for their acknowledgement and proud to be a participant in their events. Thnx, Marty.
Marty Ballou
Being inducted into the RI Music Hall Of Fame was an honor and in a way a surprise, but it shows me that I’ve done a lot in my real jazz career and that I’ve been recognized for it so that is pretty cool. It’s all a work in progress to play jazz and I feel that I may have reached my halfway mark at it!
Greg Abate
Being inducted into the RIMHOF is one of the biggest moments of my career. It’s validation for the hard work my bandmates and I have done over the years. We’re lucky to have found something that we love to do and this honor is something that we will all cherish. It’s a great thrill to be part of this and I am grateful to have my music and my bandmates get this recognition. We especially thank our friends, family and fans for supporting us for so many years. We don’t take any of this for granted.
Mark Cutler