KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — When Fantasia learned she was going to be inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in Kannapolis, the “American Idol” star was overwhelmed with emotion.
“I remember crying,” she said. “I’ve been to a lot of places, traveled the world, been honored in a lot of places, got keys to a lot of cities, but for me to be honored in North Carolina, where I was born, where it all started for me when I was 5 years old, it means a lot to me.”
Fantasia, who won season three of “Idol,” spoke as she sat in the Gem Theatre in Kannapolis on Thursday night, waiting for the 2014 North Carolina Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony to start.
While she talked, hundreds of people walked the red carpet outside the Gem Theatre for the induction ceremony, the theater’s marquee lit up with the words “NC Music Hall of Fame.”
“So I’m going to try and not cry tonight,” she said. “I can’t promise you that, just because I know … what I’ve been through. I know how hard it’s been to knock through doors in L.A. and New York City and Atlanta and say, ‘Hey, I’m from High Point, North Carolina and I live in Charlotte, North Carolina.’ It means so much to be honored by my own home state.”
Fantasia was inducted Thursday, along with country music guitarist Jimmy Capps, rock guitar legend Link Wray, The Embers, Tab Smith, Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman, and Little Eva. Clay Aiken, an “American Idol” runner-up, was also inducted but was unable to attend. Aiken is Aiken is the 2014 Democratic nominee in the North Carolina 2nd congressional district election.
Fantasia wasn’t scheduled to perform, but when she took her award she broke into a bit of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.” “It’s been a long, long time coming, but I know change had to come,” she sang to cheers from the crowd.
While the crowd only got a taste of Fantasia’s singing, the evening included several full performances. Fellow 2014 inductee Jimmy Capps, a famed guitar player in Nashville who has recorded songs with George Jones, Ernest Tubb and Kenny Rogers, played several songs at the Gem, including Roger’s “The Gambler.”
Capps is still busy these days and is already working on an album with country music singer Moe Bandy.
“It’s overwhelming to me, because there’s a lot of family here and a lot of friends,” Capps said. “What a great honor coming from your home state.”
One of the friends who was there was Steve Sechler, who grew up in the China Grove/Kannapolis area before moving to Nashville to work with Dolly Parton and later performing regularly with Capps.
“He’s done so much and he is such a humble man. He’s been the band leader on the Grand Ole Opry for 40 plus years,” Sechler said. “I’ve been working with him for over 30 years.”
Sechler performed with Capps on Thursday.
Also performing were 2014 inductees, The Embers, as well as Band of Tribes, which featured Link Wray’s grandson, Chris Webb. The band covered one of Wray’s biggest hits, “Rumble,” which was featured in the Quentin Tarantino film “Pulp Fiction.”
Wray, who died in November 2005, was honored posthumously, along with Tab Smith, Lulu Belle and Scotty, and Little Eva.
Thursday’s event also included Ken Knox, a former member of Chairmen of the Board, who joined the festivities at the Gem Theatre, performing with his group Ken Knox and Company.
Knox was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 1999 with the Chairmen of the Board and was glad to be back as part of the ceremony.
“I love the fact that this state is represented and that there are so many musicians that deserve to be honored,” Knox said.
Record company executive and NASCAR car owner Mike Curb, who sponsors the Hall of Fame, was also in attendance. The founder of Curb Records has worked with some of music’s top talent, including Leann Rimes, Tim McGraw and Kenny Rogers.
“It’s so wonderful seeing these great musicians being honored for the tremendous work they’ve done here in North Carolina and my foundation is real proud to sponsor this,” Curb said. “It’s growing beautifully and I think it will keep growing for years to come.”
The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame is currently located at 109 West A Street, Kannapolis, and opened in June 2009. The hall of fame is currently in the process of moving exhibits to the Curb Museum for Music and Motorsports at 600 Dale Earnhardt Blvd., Kannapolis, and look to have a grand opening there around mid-November.