The Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame induction ceremonies took place September 29, 2015, at Noah’s Event Center in West Little Rock. Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism Executive Director Richard Davies served as master of ceremonies and the event included a reception and dinner. This year’s ceremony began with a reception at 6:30 p.m. and was followed by a dinner at 7:00 p.m. Musical selections were performed by honorees Buddy Jewell and The Cate Brothers and local musicians Triple Threat (of America’s Got Talent fame) and violinist Joseph Shackelford. This year’s inductees are as follows:
Governor’s Award Winner Charlaine Harris: A New York Times bestselling author, Charlaine Harris’ most popular novels include “The Southern Vampire Mysteries” and the “Harper Connelly” series. “The Southern Vampire Mysteries” feature Sookie Stackhouse, a telepathic waitress from Louisiana, and are the basis for HBO’s “True Blood.” A former resident of Magnolia, Arkansas, Harris is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and the American Crime Writers League and is a member of the board of Sisters in Crime. She also alternates as president of the Arkansas Mystery Writers Alliance.
Buddy Jewell: Buddy Jewell Jr. was born in Lepanto and is an American country music singer who won USA Network’s first season of “Nashville Star.” After living throughout the Arkansas Delta in Dyess, Helena-West Helena, Forrest City and Osceola, he attended Arkansas State University. Jewell then moved to Camden and toured with the band White Oak as lead singer for four years. His travels led him to Texas, where he competed successfully in several singing competitions, and then to Tennessee, where he worked as a demo singer recording more than 5,000 works. Since winning “Nashville Star,” Jewell signed to Columbia Records and has released his hit single “Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey’s Song)” and the albums “Buddy Jewell,” “Times Like These,” “Country Enough” and “My Father’s Country.”
W. Francis McBeth: Known primarily for his works for wind band, William Francis McBeth was a Texas-born composer who taught at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia from 1957 until his retirement in 1996. His most frequently performed compositions include “Symphony No. 3,” “Kaddish,” “Beowulf,” “Of Sailors and Whales,” and “Through Countless Halls of Air.” Also known for conducting, he led fellow Arkansan former President Bill Clinton in the 1962 Arkansas All-State Band and served as the third conductor of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra from 1970 to 1973. McBeth was appointed Composer Laureate of the State of Arkansas in 1975 and his Third Symphony was awarded the Howard Hanson Prize at the Eastman School of Music. He was also the recipient of the Special Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers each consecutive year from 1965 until his death in 2012.
The Cate Brothers: This singer-songwriter-musician duo consists of Springdale natives and twin brothers Earl and Ernie Cate. With Earl on guitar and Ernie on piano, the Cate Brothers became known for performing their iconic southern soul music throughout the South during the mid-1960s. The duo became associated with fellow Arkansan and member of The Band, Levon Helm, through fellow Fayetteville rock musician Ronnie Hawkins in the 1950s. Helm later introduced the Cates to Asylum Records in Los Angeles, which began their recording career. After releasing four albums and reaching a wide audience from their performance on “Austin City Limits” during the 1970s, the band took a hiatus before resuming recording, reviving their career in the mid-1990s.
Al Bell: Best known as executive and co-owner of Memphis-based Stax Records, Al Bell was born in Brinkley. A former Little Rock disc-jockey, Bell rose through the ranks, becoming one of the most influential figures at Stax. After the company closed, Bell returned to Little Rock and in the 1980s, formed his own label, Bellmark. Bell released several hit singles under this label including Tag Team’s “Whoomp! (There It Is)” and Prince’s “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.” Bell then began work on Al Bell Presents, a web-based venture featuring the online radio program “Al Bell Presents: Southern Soul Music.” Bell has been acknowledged several times for his achievements in the music industry, among them being named chairman of the Memphis Music Foundation in 2009 and receiving a Grammy Trustees Award in 2011.
Authorized by the Arkansas General Assembly and governed by the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame Board, the Hall exists to honor individuals with Arkansas connections who have made significant contributions to the entertainment arts. The exhibits commemorating the members are permanently housed on display in the Pine Bluff Convention Center. Other entertainers honored in the past include Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Mary Steenburgen, Billy Bob Thornton, Al Green and many others.