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Septima Clark Inducted Into S.C. Hall of Fame, Jamerson Still Waiting
2/20/2014 10:29:17 AM

Septima Clark
By Barney Blakeney

For years local vocalist Anthony McKnight has worked diligently to honor his cousin James Jamerson by advocating Jamerson’s induction into the S.C. Hall of Fame. McKnight’s efforts reflect the difficulty in getting candidates inducted, especially African American candidates.

While South Carolina has some 78 inductees in its Hall of Fame, only 12 are African American. Two are Black women - educator and presidential advisor Dr. Mary McCleod Bethune and nurse/midwife Maude Callen. Other African American inductees include musician Dizzy Gillespie and jurists Matthew Perry and Ernest A. Finney.

Literally hundreds are nominated annually since the hall of fame was established in 1973. Only two nominees - one contemporary and one deceased - annually are chosen for induction. This year’s inductees are Children’s Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman and Civil Rights Movement Educator Septima Pointsette Clark. They will be honored at a Feb. 24 ceremony at the Hall of Fame in Myrtle Beach.

Georgette Mayo said surprisingly, Clark never was nominated for induction until 2011. The Civil Rights activist is considered by many the ‘mother’ of the Civil Rights Movement. She developed the literacy and citizenship workshops that served to teach Blacks in preparation for participation in the Civil Rights Movement and voting.

The Hall of Fame was created to recognize and honor contemporary and past citizens who have made outstanding contributions to South Carolina’s heritage and progress. Many think Jamerson is among those distinguished South Carolinians.

Jamerson is acknowledged as one of the greatest influences in modern music. As bass guitar player for Motown Records, the Edisto Island native who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 performed on 30 number one hits and 70 R&B hits, more than any other person or group in music history.

As a studio musician and performer with the Funk Brothers band, Jamerson’s opening bass lyrics on the Temptations’ hit single ‘My Girl’ was typical of the distinct style he displayed on other hit tunes by Stevie Wonder, The Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Four Tops, the Supremes and other Motown performers.

Jamerson’s bass playing was considered an integral part of ‘the Motown Sound’ as he transcended the standard bass line and created a duet with the vocalist, but remained tightly locked with the drum groove. He has influenced a renown who’s who list of bass players in jazz, rock and funk.

During his lifetime (1936-1983), Jamerson received little formal recognition for his contributions. He was the subject of a 1989 book by Allan (Dr. Licks) Slutsky titled “Standing In the Shadows of Motown” and was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. In 2004 he was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2009 was inducted into the Fender Hall of Fame.

Jamerson was presented with a resolution in his honor by the S.C. House of Representatives in 2005. Currently efforts are underway to honor him with a resolution by the S.C. Senate.

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