These artists and musicians made their marks on our culture. They're the NC Heritage Award winners.

Dick Knight, onetime sideman to James Brown, is a 2018 North Carolina Folk Heritage Award winner.
Dick Knight, onetime sideman to James Brown, is a 2018 North Carolina Folk Heritage Award winner. Photo courtesy of NC Arts Council.

Between Doc Watson, the "5" Royales and Etta Baker, the North Carolina Heritage Awards just about always have at least one musician in each class.

But music is even more prominent than usual in the Class of 2018, with musicians accounting for most of this year's six recipients.

All five will appear and perform at the Heritage Award ceremony May 23 at downtown Raleigh's Fletcher Opera Theater.

The North Carolina Arts Council selects recipients for their contributions to the state's "cultural vitality," according to a news release. The awards have been given out since 1989 to folk artists who increase awareness of the state's traditions of music, art and stories.

This year's recipients are:

Robert "Dick" Knight (Kinston) — Versatile multi-instrumentalist who played with fellow Kinston residents Nat Jones and 2016 Heritage Award winner Maceo Parker in James Brown's band during the Godfather of Soul's most fertile period. Today, Knight plays in The Monitors, a Wilson-based R&B band led by 2014 winner Bill Myers.

Arvil Freeman (Buncombe County) — A fiddler who plays a style "in between" old-time folk music and bluegrass, drawing from both traditions.

Tony Williamson (Chatham County) — Noted mandolinist who has played with everybody from bluegrass/country Music Hall of Famer Ricky Skaggs to the rising Chapel Hill duo Mandolin Orange.

Asha Bala (Fayetteville) — A performer and instructor of the Indian classical dance tradition Bharatanatyam, an ancient spiritual practice in the South of India. She operates a dance studio in Cary.

Glenn and Lula Bolick (Caldwell County) — Potters who continue working in the Seagrove pottery tradition. Glenn Bolick also runs a saw-mill, and he is a musician and storyteller.

Each Heritage Award winner receives a cash award of $8,000.

The ceremony is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20. For details, call 919-664-8302 or go to pinecone.org.

David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi
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