Norman Blake, Peter Rowan and Paul Mullin to Be Inducted to IBMA Hall of Fame
Beloved mutli-instrumentalist/vocalist Norman Blake, whose prolific career spans more than six decades, broadcast pioneer and recording artist Paul “Moon” Mullins, whose work brought bluegrass music to tens of thousands in Ohio and beyond, and Grammy winner Peter Rowan, an eclectic singer-songwriter whose influential work ranges from Bill Monroe to Tony Rice, were announced as the 2022 inductees into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony will take place Thursday, September 29 during the IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, North Carolina.
About this year’s inductees:
Norman Blake is a gifted multi-instrumentalist known primarily for his guitar work, folksy, down-home vocals, and an eclectic mix of traditional and original songs and tunes. Born in 1938 and raised in the communities of Rising Fawn, Georgia, and Sulphur Springs, Alabama, he was exposed to country music at an early age. The Blake home had recordings by the Carter Family and the Monroe Brothers. Radio brought the sounds of Roy Acuff, Bradley Kincaid, and others. Blake took up the guitar at age 11 or 12 and later tackled the mandolin, fiddle, and Dobro. In the middle 1950s he performed in several local groups including the Dixieland Drifters, with whom he appeared on radio and performed at local dances, and the Lonesome Travelers. Blake was drafted in 1961 and spent two years in the Army. While stationed in the Panama Canal Zone, he played fiddle and mandolin with a group of fellow GIs who were known as the Kobbe Mountaineers. While on leave, Blake participated in his first recording session: Twelve Shades of Bluegrass by the Lonesome Travelers.
Following his discharge from the Army, Blake ventured to Nashville where he found work as a session musician. This led to a ten-year association with Johnny Cash, during which Blake appeared on many of Cash’s recordings of the 1960s and early ‘70s, toured on show dates, and was featured on Cash’s television program. Other recording opportunities in this time frame included appearances on Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline Rag album, Joan Baez’s hit recording of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and touring and recording with Kris Kristofferson and John Hartford’s Aereo-Plain Band. Blake’s most high-profile recording from this period was with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on the landmark three-album set Will the Circle Be Unbroken. His own recordings started in 1972 with Back Home in Sulphur Springs. Blake has released nearly 40 albums under his own name, with his own Rising Fawn String Ensemble, and in conjunction with others, including his wife Nancy, Tony Rice, Red Rector, and Tut Taylor.
His life-long relationship in marriage and music with Nancy has taken them around the world and garnered multiple Grammy nominations and overwhelming critical acclaim. Norman and Nancy Blake’s unique musical chemistry forged a sound unlike anything else in bluegrass – an elegant and complex weave of stringed instruments and honest, open-hearted voices.
Blake’s music has also appeared in high-profile films such as Cold Mountain, Inside Llewyn Davis, Walk the Line, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? In 2017 Blake received an IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award.
Paul “Moon” Mullins:
Born in Frenchburg, Kentucky, in 1936, Paul Mullins was surrounded at an early age by the music of bluegrass pioneers such as Flatt & Scruggs and the Stanley Brothers. During a tour in the Army from 1955 to 1958, Mullins learned to play fiddle. He landed his first professional music job playing fiddle with the Stanley Brothers. In 1960 Mullins began his broadcasting career as a full-time, on-air personality, working at stations in eastern Kentucky. His unique broadcasting style was developed at WGOH in Grayson, WMST in Mt. Sterling, and WTCR in Ashland, before his move to Ohio in 1964, where Mullins joined the staff of WPFB in Middletown. The nickname “Moon” (derived from a vintage comic strip) caught on quickly after a few months on-air in Ohio.
Mullins introduced bluegrass to tens of thousands of listeners in the Cincinnati-Dayton region of Ohio, and promoted hundreds of concert appearances for Ralph Stanley, the Osborne Brothers, the Country Gentlemen, J.D. Crowe, the Lost & Found, and more. Mullins wrote and recorded the bluegrass standard “Katy Daley” in 1962, basing it on a long poem given to him by a fan. Beginning in 1967 and for nearly a decade Mullins assisted Bill Monroe as emcee for the Bean Blossom bluegrass festivals.
Mullins helped establish the Boys From Indiana in the 1970s and, in 1983, the Traditional Grass, with his banjo-playing son Joe, and guitarist Mark Rader. They worked extensively throughout the region and nationally, releasing four albums for Rebel Records in the early 1990s. The group disbanded in 1995 when Joe Mullins bought radio station WBZI in Xenia, Ohio. Paul Mullins returned to the radio airwaves as a DJ at WBZI. He was named IBMA’s Bluegrass Broadcaster of the Year and received a Distinguished Achievement Award from the association, both in 2000. In 2007 he received the Ohio Heritage Fellowship Award for Performing Arts, which honors traditional artists who carry forward the folk traditions of their families and communities. Paul Mullins died in 2008.
Born in Wayland, Massachusetts, to a musical family, Peter Rowan formed his first band—the Cupids—in 1956 while still in high school. Following three years of college, Rowan left to pursue music. He began his professional career in 1963 as guitar player and vocalist in Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys. During that time he co-wrote the classic song “Walls of Time” with Monroe. The late 1960s and early ‘70s saw Rowan involved in a number of rock, folk, and bluegrass projects, including Earth Opera, Sea Train, Muleskinner, and the Rowans, where he played alongside brothers Chris and Lorin. In 1973 Peter, David Grisman, Jerry Garcia, Vassar Clements and John Kahn formed a short-lived bluegrass band christened Old & In the Way. During this period Rowan penned the song “Panama Red,” a subsequent hit for the New Riders of the Purple Sage.
Rowan embarked on a well-received solo career in the late 1970s, releasing critically acclaimed records such as Dust Bowl Children, Yonder (a collaboration with Jerry Douglas), bluegrass albums The First Whippoorwill and Bluegrass Boy, and High Lonesome Cowboy with Don Edwards and Norman Blake. Two albums from the Peter Rowan Quartet, a recording with Tony Rice, and Legacy with the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, coupled with a relentless touring schedule, have further endeared Peter Rowan to audiences around the world. His 2013 album Old School was released on the Compass label. Rowan performs internationally as a solo singer-songwriter, while stateside he plays in three bands: the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, Big Twang Theory, and the Free Mexican Air Force. Over the course of his career, he has won a GRAMMY award, and has been nominated six times.
IBMA World of Bluegrass is the most important week in bluegrass! The week encompasses four events: the IBMA Business Conference, September 27-29; the IBMA Bluegrass Ramble, an innovative series of showcases taking place September 27-29 in downtown Raleigh and at the Raleigh Convention Center; the 33rd Annual IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards, scheduled for Thursday evening, September 29, and IBMA Bluegrass Live! powered by PNC, September 30-October 1, a two-day festival. IBMA Bluegrass Live! features the best of the best in bluegrass today, benefiting the IBMA Trust Fund—a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that assists bluegrass professionals during financial emergencies—and introducing the music to thousands of new fans every year.
IBMA – the International Bluegrass Music Association – is the non-profit music association that connects, educates, and empowers bluegrass professionals and enthusiasts, honoring tradition and encouraging innovation in the bluegrass community worldwide. IBMA Bluegrass Live! powered by PNC, featuring the best of the best in bluegrass today, helps benefit the IBMA Trust Fund—a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that assists bluegrass professionals during financial emergencies—and introducing the music to thousands of new fans every year.