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Coastal Carolina University launches Beach Music Hall of Fame

September 10, 2009

Coastal Carolina University will be the location for the future International Beach Music Hall of Fame, according to an announcement at a media conference on campus. Legendary beach music artists Maurice Williams and Billy Scott performed at the event today to lend their support to the project and provide an authentic sampling of this distinctive musical art form.

The plan to establish a dedicated site on campus recognizing the importance of "beach music," the genre of rhythm and blues music long associated with the culture and lifestyle of the Grand Strand, was formalized in May 2009 when the South Carolina General Assembly passed a concurrent resolution designating Coastal Carolina University as "the home of the Beach Music Hall of Fame."

"Coastal Carolina University is the natural place for this new endeavor, and we are excited about the prospect of it," said David A. DeCenzo, president of the University. "Beach music is an integral part of our local heritage. In addition to a Hall of Fame honoring its great artists, the University will focus scholarly attention on the cultural, sociological and musical aspects of the phenomenon."

The University has formed a steering committee, led by Department of Music Chairman Don Sloan, to direct the organization of the Hall of Fame. An advisory board will be established to formulate a procedure for naming inductees to the Hall of Fame and choose an interim location on campus to house it. Officials foresee the eventual installation of an interactive museum that will showcase beach music history and honor the inductees.

The University's affiliation with beach music was spearheaded by Harry Turner, president of the Beach Music Association International. An author and radio personality, Turner has taught noncredit courses on beach music through the University's adult learning program for many years. The Carolina Beach Music Association is also supporting the Hall of Fame project at CCU.

"I can't imagine the Grand Strand without beach music," said Billy Alford, chairman of Coastal Carolina University's Board of Trustees. "This is a perfect way to foster an appreciation for the cultural distinctiveness of our area."

Maurice Williams, with Freddy Mangum of Williams' band The Zodiacs, sang his classic 1953 hit, "Stay." Billy Scott sang "I Got the Fever," the gold record that he and his band, The Prophets, first recorded in 1968. University officials also noted the passing of local radio personality Billy Smith, known for his dedication to beach music as the host of "The Billy Smith Beach Party."

Chauncey, the University mascot, gave a demonstration of the state dance of South Carolina, the "shag," which is performed almost exclusively to the sounds of Carolina beach music. His dance partner at the media conference was Autumn Jones, a four-time National Shag Dance champion. Chauncey was instructed in shag dancing by Barry Thigpen, chairman of the National Shag Dance Championships.

Other Beach Music artists were also in attendance to show their support for the Hall of Fame project.

For more information contact Martha Hunn at 843-349-2962.