Bill Withers Day in Beckley

Bill Withers will be honored during events in Beckley on Saturday, May 15. The Raleigh County Historical Society will host a Historic Marker Dedication for the new Bill Withers marker located across from Stratton Elementary School at 11:00 a.m. Bill Withers was a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter who grew up in Raleigh County and attended Stratton High School. The marker project was spearheaded by Annie & DJ Morgan along with the Historical Society. The marker dedication ceremony on Saturday will include remarks by Tom Sopher, Dennie Morgan, Pastor Hightower and Mayor Rob Rappold, plus a few of Withers’ songs performed by Drew Lawrence, Matt Mullins, Larry Groce, Randy Gilkey and The Carpenter Ants.

Historical Society President Tom Sopher says, “The ceremony was initially planned as a simple marker dedication by invitation for the marker donors and the historical society (due to limited space in the lot beside the marker); with a public celebration of concerts during the afternoon at the Beckley Intermodal Gateway. However, since other residents may want to show support for Withers at the marker, the City is going to station police officers to help with traffic control, allowing the general public to attend the ceremony. Neighborhood residents are welcome to walk to the event, and attendees can bring a chair. It will be a special day.” According to Police Chief Lonnie Christian, “South Fayette Street will be completely blocked off between F and G streets beginning at 10:30am. There should be ample parking on the street in front of and to the side of Stratton Elementary (Fayette, G, Adamos), for those attending the event. We will have a large available parking area where the section of the road is closed to traffic. Officers will allow cars through the barricades for event parking. The road will reopen after the event has completely cleared.

After the marker dedication, Concerts are planned at the Beckley Intermodal Gateway where several local musicians will perform Bill Withers songs between noon-6 p.m. Performers will include Shawn Benfield, The Carpenter Ants, Untrained Professionals, Jamie Lester & Drew Lawrence, Matt Mullins & the Bringdowns, and Lady D & Mi$$ion. The concerts have been organized by Matt Mullins, who hopes to continue offering an annual Bill Withers event. Future projects to honor Withers, the Grammy-winning, singer-songwriter from our area, will be announced during the events of the day.

Notes about Bill Withers’ success:
Bill Withers honored with Grammy Awards: 1971 – Ain’t No Sunshine – Best Rhythm & Blues Song; 1981 – Just the Two of Us – Best Rhythm & Blues Song; 1987 – Lean on Me – Best Rhythm & Blues Song; and he had six other Grammy Nominations
Bill Withers inducted into Halls of Fame: 2005 – Songwriters Hall of Fame; 2007 – WV Music Hall of Fame; 2015 – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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