Bluesman Blind Boy Fuller earns NC Music Hall of Fame nod

By: By William R. Toler - Editor
Courtesy photo Blind Boy Fuller (includes Fulton Allen): Performing in studio, undated, in the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Records #20001, Southern Folklife Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

ROCKINGHAM — For the second consecutive year, a musician with local ties is being inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.

Bluesman Blind Boy Fuller, is among seven inductees for 2018 announced Thursday by the Hall of Fame.

Fuller was born Fulton Allen in Anson County on July 10, 1907, son of Calvin Allen of Wadesboro and Mary Jane Walker of Ansonville. Research shows he moved to Rockingham to live with his father after his mother died and and learned to play the guitar at a young age. He later married Cora Mae Martin in Bennettsville, South Carolina.

According to a physician’s eye report, Fuller went blind at the age of 21. The cause of blindness is listed as “phthisis bulbi” for his right eye and “papilloma of the cornea evidently following old perforating ulcer” in his left and the factor for his primary eye condition as “probably gonorrhea conjunctivitis.”

Fuller eventually wound up in Durham, where he lived until his death in 1941.

Fuller made 130 records from 1935 to 1940 on seven labels, according to researcher Jas Obrecht.

“Drawing on country blues, pop, and especially ragtime, Allen played fingerstyle and slide on a metal-bodied National Duolian guitar, sometimes using a capo,” Obrecht wrote in the online post “Blind Boy Fuller: His Life, Recording Sessions, and Welfare Records.”

“He sang with a strong, confident voice,” Obrecht continued. “His music came to epitomize the so-called Piedmont style, and his duets with harmonica ace Sonny Terry set the template for the later partnerships of Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Bowling Green John Cephas and Harmonica Phil Wiggins, and others.”

Other artists being inducted this year are: Grammy nominee John Tesh, who studied at N.C. State; former “American Idol” contestant and Grammy nominee Chris Daughtry, from Rocky Mount; record executive Dolphus Ramseur, responsible for the Avett Brothers and Steep Canyon Rangers, who was born and raised in Concord; Grammy-nominated gospel singer, songwriter and producer Luther Barnes, of Rocky Mount; Grammy-nominated R&B singer-songwriter Calvin Richardson, of Monroe; and gospel group The Hoppers, of Madison.

Last year, Richmond County’s Bucky Covington and Anson County native Richard Lewis Spencer were both inducted.

According to Veronica Cordle, executive director of the N.C. Music Hall of Fame and Museum, inductees are decided by a five-member advisory board who narrow down a master list by voting.

The Hall of Fame began in Thomasville in 1994, but has had regular induction ceremonies since moving to Kannapolis in 2008. This will be the 10th induction since the move.

The ceremony will be held Thursday, Oct. 18 and is open to the public. Tickets are expected to go on sale later this spring, according to a press release.

Past inductees include Hamlet native John Coltrane, Marshville native Randy Travis, Charlie Daniels, Ronnie Milsap, Earl Scruggs, Parliament-Funkadelic’s George Clinton and Maceo Parker, Shirley Caesar, Andy Griffith, Warren Haynes and other “American Idol” contestants Kellie Pickler, Clay Aiken and Fantasia.

Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]

Courtesy photo Blind Boy Fuller (includes Fulton Allen): Performing in studio, undated, in the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Records #20001, Southern Folklife Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
https://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/web1_blindboyfuller.jpegCourtesy photo Blind Boy Fuller (includes Fulton Allen): Performing in studio, undated, in the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Records #20001, Southern Folklife Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

By William R. Toler

Editor