Heritage Bridge Award 2010 - David Lee  
This award is given to recognize some of the people who, over a career or a life-time, have contributed extraordinarily to the musical fabric of our county and our area. The 2010 award went to David Lee and Myrtle Irvin Green. Both have persevered through many years in different ways to promote and conserve the unique and special musical talent that percolates here, regardless of adversity or difficulty.

David Lee
Cleveland County native David Lee never gives up on his dreams. In fact, he’s still pursuing many of them. Some of his biggest dreams began when he was a young man making music, writing songs, and getting music out to the people. He never let the fact that he was of very modest means, or that he was located in Shelby instead of some recording or music publishing center or anything else hold him back.

David loves all kinds of music. Bill Monroe has a place in his heart along with the sweet soul music that perhaps got him the most attention and success. He worked with many white musicians as well as black, and often at the same time. David embodied what soul music seemed to represent, especially in the south in the 1950’s and 60’s – music that belonged to and united everyone, that everyone claimed as their own.

We don’t know of anyone in this area that compares in all these areas of accomplishment in the world of sound and music. In fact, one of David’s businesses was installing sound systems out of his Washington Sound record shop on Buffalo Street. He also put on shows at Washington Center, the center of African American entertainment in the Shelby area. At one of those shows, he met a young lady from Greenville South Carolina, one Ann Burton. David was impressed with her singing and gave her some songs of his to work on. The result was a multi-year journey that saw them work together and rise along in the music business regionally. Ann Burton took the stage name Ann Sexton. They recorded her songs on Lee’s Impel label and when they sold out and David made an almost chance connection with soul DJ John R (Richburg), they were re-released on John R’s own Seventy-seven imprint. Copies of some of those records are now sought after by collectors world wide. Ann Sexton has made a return to music, especially in Europe, where there is a big “Northern Soul” scene.

David recorded and worked with a mixed group of musicians and singers known at the Constellations. Don Camp and Harold Allen and others saw that they needed something new as the music was changing in the late 1950’s. That turned out to be soul music, but as white instrumentalists they needed singers and they needed the dance moves that audiences expected from the predominantly black style. So they partnered with the Guest Brothers (Bryan “Brownie”, Benjamin and Sam) and William “Butch” Mitchell, all of whom were African American, and history began to be made. David wrote for the group and recorded them.

2005 Ray Ledford
2006 Horace Scruggs
2007 Frank Love, Jr.
2008 Harold Williamson
2010 David Lee
2010 Myrtle Irvin Green
2011 Dan X. Padgett
2012 Dr. Bobby
2013 Charles Kendrick
2014 David E. Wilson
2015 R. C. Nanney


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