Musical legends join Hall of Fame

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FOR the first time, Southland jazz and folk musicians are among those being inducted into the Southland Music Hall of Fame next weekend.

Previously, entitled the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the honour had recognised the achievements and contribution of prominent Southland musicians who played rock music.

Southland Musicians Club president Trevor Daley said this year they decided to broaden the scope.

“We felt there were people in other genres of music who deserved inclusion in the Hall of Fame,” he said.

The inductees this year are Helen Henderson, Bruce Chilton and Brad MacClure.

“Bruce has been a loyal servant to Southland music for many years. Brad, the same thing.

“Helen has made a career for herself in the United States. Not many musicians from New Zealand have done that. She is a very worthy recipient.”

Brad MacClure

Brad MacClure, Photo: Supplied

”I thought I had flown under the rader,” he said of the tribute.

“It is a great honour to be selected… [and] to be recognised by my peers.”

MacClure is a piano tuner by day and a self-titled “cultural pirate” by night.

He has been a member of numerous groups playing an eclectic mix of musical styles throughout the years, including Foveaux Folk Club in the 1980s, Little Green Men since the late 1990s, Secret Weapon in the early 2000s, and more recently the City of Invercargill Highland Pipe Band’s Pipin’ Hot and Southland Musicians Club.

He had also performed with several jazz bands and regularly performs at weddings and ceilidh (barn dances).

“I like to be a cultural pirate with my music, I like to steal musical ideas and styles.”

MacClure said he had a particular interest in acoustic guitar, but also played keyboards, mandolin and fiddle.

A highlight of his music career was discovering he could play the fiddle and play it “okay”, he said.

“I used to think the fiddle was for wizards only. It’s a thrill to play all the subtle bits.”

MacClure is also a songwriter and will perform some of his material at the Southland Musicians Club’s Hall of Fame show next weekend.

Southland Musicians Club’s Southland Music Hall of Fame, October 12. Tickets available from Little Fire Musicworks.

Bruce Chilton

Bruce Chilton. Photo: Petrina Wright

BRUCE Chilton’s contribution to the Southland music scene has been far reaching.

He was a tutor at Central Southland College’s Out of School Music programme, was a classical music teacher, taught music at James Hargest and Cargill high schools, and started the music programme at Southland Polytechnic in 1988.

He was also a tutor at the Out of School Music programme in Invercargill for more than 30 years and musical director for The Crazy Rhythm Big Band for nearly 30 years.

Chilton said being awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for his contribution to music in 1997 had been a career highlight.

He was arguably best known for playing with Dixieland jazz band Southern Dixie, he said, which played all around New Zealand and at the Noosa Jazz Festival in Australia.

“Southern Dixie was the most rewarding and most fun.”

Chilton said he was honoured to be nominated to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

He will be joined by his children Melissa and Chris on stage when he performs at the Hall of Fame show next weekend.

Chilton always enjoyed performing with his children and it would be a thrill to have them join him again for this event, he said.

Helen Henderson

Helen Henderson. Photo: Supplied

DESPITE being born into an established Southland musical family and the niece of Invercargill violinist and conductor Alex Lindsay, singer/songwriter Helen Henderson never had any formal music training.

She learned her craft by singing in the school choir and listening to The Beatles, she said.

With few opportunities for women in music in Southland in the 1970s, Henderson moved to London to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.

Her lack of formal training proved to be no barrier. She secured a record deal with Ensign Records, which also represented Boomtown Rats, Sinead O’Connor and the Waterboys.

She later moved to Los Angeles, in the United States, and signed with Geffen Records, home to John Lennon at the time.

She had also recorded at F.A.M.E Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, “the cradle of rock ‘n’ roll”, she said.

“There is incredible significance in that. How did a girl from Invercargill end up there?

“I just followed the music.”

Among her many career highlights was opening for Rod Stewart and Simple Minds in Austria in 2002, she said.

Reflecting on her career, Henderson said she was most proud of the music.

“I’m real proud that I have this huge body of written songs which have been recorded.”

Although she is based in LA, Henderson has a house in Bluff and visits a couple of times a year.

“This is where my imagination took flight.

“I have this strong connection with this land and the people. It is my roots and it’s where my songs come from.”

She was honoured to receive the Hall of Fame nod.

“For me to be inducted in my region as a woman and as a writer and folk singer, I feel like I am keeping the oral history of my people alive in this region.”

She is releasing a record in New Zealand next year entitled Muriel’s Dream in honour of her late mother, and will perform some of the material at the Hall of Fame show.

“It’s really fitting that the songs will be played for the first time in Invercargill. My creative process comes from here.”

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