The 33rd Annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards lived up to its reputation of bringing everyone who loves music and loves this great state of Georgia together in one place! Dr. Bobby Bailey certainly knows how to put on a show. She tirelessly brings recognition to the many talented men and women who make their mark on the Music Industry and call Georgia their home.

This year was a little different for my wife and me, because we were able to attend the V.I.P. Reception prior to the show! What an opportunity to mingle! So many people to meet, I felt like a kid in a candy store!  Governor Nathan Deal, Senator Jeff Mullis, Commissioner Rob Pitts, Joel A. Katz, and Dr. Bobby Bailey were in attendance giving many organizations and people (of course) the opportunity to speak with and further their cause through respectful pleasantries! And YES, I am guilty!

As I walked through the Ballroom it was apparent that I was amongst some of the elite in the industry. The Recording Academy was in full force, as well as the Georgia Music Partners, Georgia Music Industry Association, Bridge Music Foundation to name a few. Lisa Love, Tammy Hurt,  Simon Horrocks, Michele Caplinger, Glenn Schick, Jordan Roe, Jim Ramseur, Eileen Tilson , Keith Perissi, Bruce Burch, Don Perry, Jimmy Lefavour, Hugh Hession, Lindsey Link and Shawn Grove.

In comes, Jan Smith (Mama J as we respectfully call her). With cameras clicking and so many people packing in around her it was hard to get even a second of face time, but what an honor to have her as one of the inductees! A very hard working woman who has opened the doors of her studio for a few artists I have worked with.

I have to say that the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre is a class act clear down to how they round you up and send you into the auditorium for the show. By the use of a mini xylophone and low volume tones on the sound system throughout the ballroom and hallways, the crowd shuffled into the auditorium in an orderly manner and took their seats.  Monica Pearson, Ryan Cameron, and Justin Gray took the stage and started the show off with Mother’s Finest rockin’ us out! Fantastic set. Throughout the evening many notable performances by Billie Joe Royal with the Johnny Martini Band, Jasmine Guy, the Braxton Sisters, and Justin Bieber (the loudest applause the entire night by the way). The stand out performance for me was the performance of “Georgia on My Mind” written by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell in the year 1930. Later to be Recorded and released in 1960 by the Legendary Ray Charles which became the state song of Georgia.  Jan Smith was joined by Usher and Monica Pearson (who nailed this song), of which the audience quickly chimed in. I remember being impressed with Monica. She stood toe to toe with Mama J and Usher! Nice job Monica!

I have always believed that Georgia offered up some enormous talent and last night was no exception. Thank you to Dr. Bobby Bailey for making this happen for 33 years and counting. You are an inspiration! And a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to this year’s inductees for Performer – Toni Braxton, Group – Mother’s Finest, Non Performer – Kenny Leon, Pioneer – Paul Cochran, Chairman’s Award – Jan Smith, and Posthumous – Judy Argo, Hall Johnson, and Sonny Terry! And this year’s recipient of the Bill Lowry Horizon Award was Justin Bieber. All of whom are great contributors to the state of Georgia and its musical heritage.

-Eric Newcomer, the Artist Advocate