Elizabeth Cotten's guitar

The family officially presented the banjo to the museum during a segment on WBTV.

(Left to Right) John W Evans III, Jared K Evans, Jordan A. Evans (great-great grandsons of Elizabeth Cotten), WBTV anchor Kristen Miranda, Blanche U. Evans, and John W Evans Jr (Grand daugter and Grandson of Elizabeth.

KANNAPOLIS - The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame (NCMHOF) was presented with a new piece for its collections on Tuesday, Aug. 6 by the family of 2019 inductee Elizabeth Cotten.

The banjo is a special piece of history that will be put on display at the NCMHOF Museum for visitors from around the world to see.

Elizabeth Cotten's guitar

The banjo has great historical significance in that it was Cotten’s touring instrument. She performed with this instrument with American blues singer and songwriter Muddy Waters at the Newport Folk Festival in 1968, at the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife in 1969, the USSR with American blues musician Taj Mahal, Brittan, China and many other places.

Each year after the inductee class is announced to the public, the organization begins collecting pieces of memorabilia from each inductee to be placed on exhibit.

The family of Cotten felt it was fitting for the banjo to be placed on exhibit for her. Cotten is one of five who will be inducted into the NC Music Hall of Fame on Thursday, Oct. 17 at the Gem Theatre in Kannapolis.

Other inductees to be honored alongside Cotten include: Mitch Easter, 9th Wonder, Merle Watson, and Big Daddy Kane. The 2019 class was announced earlier this year by North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Susi Hamilton at a press conference at the NCMHOF Museum.

The banjo presented on Tuesday was a prized possession of the Grammy Award winning blues and folk musician and is a national treasure.

Cotten, who is from Chapel Hill, was left-handed but played a guitar strung for a right-handed player by turning the guitar upside down. That meant the top strings were on the bottom and the bottom strings were on top, which resulted in a unique style known as “Cotten Picking” as she played the bass lines with her fingers and the melody with her thumbs.

The banjo has great historical significance in that it was Cotten’s touring instrument. She performed with this instrument with American blues singer and songwriter Muddy Waters at the Newport Folk Festival in 1968, at the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife in 1969 , the USSR with American blues musician Taj Mahal, Brittan, China and many other places. Cotton played and enjoyed sharing her music until her death on June 29, 1987.

The banjo will be on display at the NCMHOF Museum beginning October 17.

About the inductions

The 2019 North Carolina Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony presented by Bank Ozk will take place on October 17 at the historic Gem Theatre in Kannapolis. The red carpet event is open to the public and tickets are on sale now. The ceremony will include a pre-ceremony reception and trolley ride for VIP ticket holders and will host live performances by NCMHOF inductees. The NCMHOF partnered with Come Hear North Carolina and the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDCR) after Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed 2019 the “Year of Music” in North Carolina. The ceremony will be filmed for livestream courtesy of the NCDCR . For the first time the NCMHOF will highlight two of its past inductees, Pastor Shirley Caesar and Kellie Pickler, who will return to this year’s Induction ceremony. Purchase tickets at: NorthCarolinaMusicHallofFame.org.

About the NCMHOF

The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its museum, located in Kannapolis, is open to the public Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (closed for lunch 12-1pm).

For more information about the Hall of Fame, its inductees, visiting the museum or to purchase tickets to the 2019 Induction Ceremony go to the NCMHOF website: NorthCarolinaMusicHallofFame.org

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