2005 The Heritage Bridge Award
Friends, fans and students of Ray Ledford gathered together at the Campbell Building, N.. Lafayette St. for the Art of Sound's first presentation of the Heritage Bridge Award. The Festival's first ever award went to career musician, teacher, and guitar maker Ray Ledford of Lawndale for his contribution to the art of sound in Cleveland County and beyond. Organizers would like to thank Ray's friends, band members, and former students for helping celebrate his notable achievements as a luthier, band leader, and teacher.

It was fitting that the first of these awards go to W. Ray Ledford of Lawndale. The list of Ray's contributions to the musical scene is long and wide. His hand crafted guitars are more prized than ever. Scores of students remember him fondly as a teacher and encourager, many of them accomplished and successful musicians today. Many more have danced or listened to his music from various combos and groups from the old Hollis fiddlers conventions to squares at Brackett's Cedar Park; from jitterbugging and swing dancing at the Moose Lodge to as far away as Myrtle Beach ballrooms.

Ray never particularly wanted to leave his Cleveland County roots although his talent could have taken him many places. Ray chose to remain among family and friends. Sometimes fame and success call and spread our area's reputation abroad, but we also benefit when someone chooses to remain deeply rooted and committed to excellence right here at home.

Ray's father Ticey made him his first violin. He tells of being a student of a World War II refugee violinist who lived in Shelby for a while. Ray met him for lessons at the Lutheran Church on Lafayette Street until his teacher got an offer from a big city orchestra. Ray later worked as a watch repairman at Shelby Jewelry and Loan (now Shelby Music Center). There he began teaching guitar lessons and for many years was the main guitar teacher in town.

At the same time, his combos became known for their ability to provide whatever dance music was needed. Often it was square dance music, and Ray played fiddle or guitar. But the band was also a tight swinging combo with Ray playing saxophone on many numbers.

Ray has an ear that can make almost any kind of music a part of his repertoire. If it's good music, Ray can play it. Some years ago, Ray discovered the synthesized guitar equipment that can turn his notes on the six-string electric guitar into nearly any instrument, from piano to horns to lush strings. He is able to create his own backup music that makes his small two or three-piece combo into a much larger sound.

The list of musicians that have played in Ray's combos is a who's who of Cleveland County music. One of them, Patty Osborne Lee is an old friend who sang with Ray and with Frank Love before World War II and went on to become Miss North Carolina in 1948 and is proud of her Lawndale and Piedmont High School heritage and her friendship with Ray.

Ray has for many years provided music for the Piedmont Reunion and spends many hours in preparation for backing the singers and cast members.

Ray's style on guitar is fluid and easy on the ears. His classical guitar background probably contributes to the accuracy and tone that he brings to the instrument. In his easy going conversational style he can discuss the greats, from Segovia to country and rock and roll.

The list of those who treasure their Ray Ledford guitars, almost all classical, has included concert performers as well as amateurs, enthusiasts and friends, far and wide.

The Art of Sound Committee is extremely proud to have been able to honor W. Ray Ledford in 2005 with the first ever Heritage Bridge Award for excellence in sound and music.

The Festival's first ever award, in 2005, went to career musician, teacher, and guitar maker Ray Ledford of Lawndale for his contribution to the art of sound in Cleveland County and beyond. The 2006 award went to Horace Scruggs, a Cleveland County native who played guitar for nearly 80 years and was an influence to, and mentor for several generations of musicians. The 2007 Heritage Bridge Award was presented to Frank Love, Jr., long time Cleveland County resident, trumpet player since the 8th grade and ambassador to Big Band Music. The 2008 Heritage Bridge Award was presented to Harold Williamson of the New Wondering Souls.

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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