The Athens Music Walk of Fame was born to celebrate the diverse and creative music scene.
In 2020, the first ten inductees were announced and honored with artist-designed bronze plaques installed in sidewalks along the walk. The two-square block walk passes several renowned music venues in western downtown, including the Morton Theatre, the 40-Watt Club, and the Georgia Theatre. In continuation of recognition of the artists who have helped make Athens a destination for music fans, the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission (ACAC) and the Athens Music Walk of Fame Committee announce new inductees each year.
List of Walk of Fame Inductees
Monroe Bowers “Pink” Morton
Morton was a prominent African-American figure in late 19th-century Georgia, known for his various roles as a building owner, publisher, building contractor, developer, and postmaster. He built the Morton Building, which housed the Morton Theatre, a popular vaudeville venue for African-American performers.
The Flyers are an Athens band who have been jamming in local venues since 1979 and gained popularity with their energetic music. They attracted the attention of Nashville producer Harold Shedd and signed with Mercury / Nashville in 1990, releasing two CDs and two videos
An American blues singer, was born in Athens, Georgia Payne began singing professionally at the age of 13 and later recorded his first hit in Houston, Texas. He has been nominated for Blues Music Awards and Grammy Awards for his soulful blues music.
Calvin Orlando Smith
A graduate of Cedar Shoals High School and the University of Georgia, Calvin Smith is an accomplished performer who has appeared in Broadway productions and shared the stage with notable artists. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2022.
WUOG, 90.5 FM, is the University of Georgia’s alternative college radio station. It has been broadcasting for over 50 years and played a significant role in launching R.E.M.’s career. WUOG offers regular rotation programming and specialty shows, including the popular “Live in the Lobby” sessions featuring local Georgia artists.
Danny Hutchens and Eric Carter arrived in Athens in 1986. Already musical partners, they formed Bloodkin and created music beloved in Athens and beyond for the next 35 years. During that time, they released 8 studio albums and a 5-disc boxed set of outtakes. Their songs have been covered by many artists, most notably fellow Athens Walk of Famers, Widespread Panic, including a top 40 Billboard single, “Can’t Get High.” Danny Hutchens died in 2021. Eric Carter continues to make music as Bloodkin, with a rotating cast of respected musicians.
Born and raised in Athens, attending Cedar Shoals High School and graduating from the University of Georgia’s School of Music, Tituss Burgess is an award-winning singer, actor, and theater performer best known for his high tenor voice and his leading role on the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, for which he received five Primetime Emmy Award Nominations. A veteran of the stage, Burgess made his Broadway debut in 2005 as Eddie in Good Vibrations. Since then, he has held many memorable roles on the Broadway stage including Hal Miller in Jersey Boys, Sebastian the Crab in The Little Mermaid, and Nicely-Nicely Johnson in the 2009 revival of Guys and Dolls.
There are some artists whose influence is not so much in having hit records, but in influencing other artists. Such is the case with the Glands. Their two original studio albums, Double Thriller (1997) and The Glands (2000) were indie rock classics. In 2018, two years after the passing of band leader Ross Shapiro, New West Records released a box set titled I Can See Your House from Here that included remastered vinyl versions of the two original albums, and a new 23-track album, Double Coda. A posthumous NPR Music review stated, “Shapiro built hooks that betrayed both sardonic armor and a soft heart. Lively but nonchalant, the band stood on the accelerator, even as the frame rattled to pieces.”
Deemed one of the ‘architects’ of the local hip hop scene, rapper Ishues (born Ismeal Cuthbertson) has toured the world from California to South Africa, representing Athens, performing with legendary acts like KRS-One. In addition to his contributions to music, he’s dedicated to the community, serving as a co-founder of local youth organization, Chess and Community. After a hiatus from music, Ishues continues to record and collaborate with emerging artists.
Founded in 1980 by guitarists Mark Cline and Mike Richmond, and bassist Armistead Wellford, students at the University of Georgia, Love Tractor are veterans of Athens’ new wave “golden era”. The band re-formed in 1996 recording 2001’s The Sky at Night and 2015’s A Trip to the Museum. Their early albums have been reissued, nearly four decades after their original release, proving their music to be not only important to the Athens scene’s formative years but timeless as well.
Born in Athens in 1868, Cole was a national figure around the turn of the 20th century, best known for collaborating with brothers J. Rosamond and James Weldon Johnson on over 200 compositions. Cole helped elevate vaudeville performance beyond minstrelsy and stereotyping towards the sentimental, romantic, and elegant.
Lo Down & Duddy
Groundbreakers of local hip hop, this duo helped put Athens on this genre’s map with appearances on national television with David Letterman, collaborations with Bubba Sparxxx, Timbaland, Yung Joc, and tours with musicians such as Blink-182 and Maroon 5.
Nuçi’s Space / Linda Phillips
Phillips founded Nuçi’s Space in memory of her son in 2000 with the mission to prevent suicide. With a focus on musicians, the organization advocates for and helps alleviate the suffering of those living with a brain illness. Standing in the shadow of the famed St. Mary’s steeple, on the eastern edge of downtown Athens, Nuçi’s Space maintains a health and resource center for musicians. The building is home to low-cost rehearsal spaces, subsidized health care, youth programs, a recording studio, and a safe space to seek support and guidance.
Lead performer and songwriter Kevin Barnes has solidified of Montreal’s reputation by releasing an album per year for over two decades; still active and touring, they have become a mainstay in psychedelic pop nationally while continuing to call Athens home.
Known also as a visual artist, University of Georgia professor emeritus, musician, and folklorist Rosenbaum has documented Athens-area and other traditional musicians around the country, winning a 2008 Best Historical Album Grammy award for his Art of Field Recording Volume I: Fifty Years of Traditional American Music Documented by Art Rosenbaum.
One October night in 1976, fueled by some liquid courage, Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson, Keith Strickland, Cindy Wilson, and Ricky Wilson formed what became one of the most-loved party bands of all time. New York City soon came calling, but Athens is where it all began.
Danger Mouse (Brian Joseph Burton)
Drawn to Athens to attend the University of Georgia, Burton came to prominence in 2004 when he released The Grey Album, which combined vocal performances from Jay-Z’s The Black Album with instrumentals from the Beatles’ The Beatles (aka the White Album). He formed Gnarls Barkley with CeeLo Green and also produced four albums with The Black Keys. As of 2020, he has been nominated for 22 Grammy Awards and won six.
This alt-country / Southern rock band was formed in Athens in 1996 by Mike Cooley (lead vocals, guitar, banjo) and Patterson Hood (lead vocals, guitar.) Cooley and Hood have collaborated with a number of talented band members over the years, including Jason Isbell, and they’ve amassed a large and loyal following for their tours.
The Elephant 6 Recording Company
Elephant 6 is a musical collective that created some of Athens’ most notable indie bands of the 1990s, including Neutral Milk Hotel, of Montreal, and Elf Power. Elephant 6 recordings are known for their experimental, psychedelic sounds.
Born a century earlier than the other inductees, in 1888, Hall Johnson was a choral director and composer who dedicated his career to preserving African-American spirituals performed during the era of slavery.
Pattman was a blues musician, harmonica player, singer, and songwriter born in 1926. Sometimes called Big Daddy Pattman, he is best known for “Prison Blues” and “Goin’ Back To Georgia.”
Formed in 1979 by UGA art students, Pylon became known for its new wave, post-punk sound and was a huge influence on other Athens bands and far beyond. R.E.M. always considered Pylon an influence, and in 1987, R.E.M.’s Bill Berry declined that his band was “America’s Best,” stating that Pylon should have that distinction.
Arguably Athens’ best-known band in terms of commercial success, R.E.M. was formed in 1980 by drummer Bill Berry, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and lead vocalist Michael Stipe. They soon became synonymous with alternative rock. They went on to sell over 90 million albums before disbanding in 2011.
Chesnutt released 17 albums during his career, including two produced by Michael Stipe. His musical style has been described by Bryan Carroll of allmusic.com as a “skewed, refracted version of Americana that is haunting, funny, poignant, and occasionally mystical, usually all at once”
Widespread Panic may be the most loved touring band of the past decade. Their 1998 album release concert in downtown Athens drew a reported 100,000 “Spreadhead” fans, and they have sold out 60 consecutive appearances at Red Rocks Amphitheater and eight headline performances at Bonnaroo.