The two-block area of downtown Athens that is home to the 40 Watt Club, Morton Theater, and Georgia Theater is a hotspot for Athenian music.
Besides the notable concert halls, the region is also home to 15 plaques on the Athens Walk of Fame. The plaques, the shapes of which fall somewhere between a location marker and an opening pick, each commemorate an artist who has contributed to the musical community and to the heritage of Athens.
“It’s the Athenian musical equivalent of the stars you see on the streets of Hollywood commemorating movie stars,” said David Barbe, director of the Musical Affairs Certificate Program and a committee member of the Athens Music Walk of Fame.
The first 10 plaques were installed in September 2020 and the second group, containing five other inductees, was installed on August 12.
The Athens Commission for Cultural Affairs, the board that funds the project, plans to continue adding five inductees each year. The inductees are chosen by a committee of local residents who have various roles in the artistic community of Athens.
ACAC President and Athens Walk of Fame committee member Andrew Salinas said the commitment to add more inductees each year allows lesser-known, but still influential artists the legacy of music of Athens, to be recognized early in the life of the Walk of Fame. .
“We can conceptualize a Music Walk of Fame that is not just a popularity contest,” Salinas said.
While many of the inductees to date are household names like REM and the B-52s, Athens’ musical heritage is not limited to the indie rock scene. Salinas said that one of the goals of the Walk of Fame is to disprove the idea that Athenian music began in the late 1970s.
Inductees from other genres and eras, such as 2020 Hall inductee Johnson and 2021 inductee Bob Cole, both influential black composers of the early 20th century, highlight the diversity of influential musicians in Athens. beyond this independent reputation.
Artists whose influence is not limited to their musical production also have their place on the Walk of Fame.
Art Rosenbaum, inducted in 2021 best known for his visual art, is also a folklorist who has documented traditional American folk music through field recordings.
Another 2021 inductee, Linda Phillips, was the founder of Nuçi’s Space, a mental health resource center for musicians. Although not a musical artist herself, Phillips and Nuçi’s Space are part of Athens’ music community.
Local artist Allen Sutton, who designed the plaques used along the Walk of Fame, said he enjoyed learning and listening to the artists he discovered through the project.
Barbe said the committee focused on diversity when choosing inductees in 2021 both in the genres of artists they understood and the artists themselves.
The Walk of Fame both honors those who contributed to the music of Athens and gives people a way to learn more about the artists who shaped the city’s culture. Barbe said it was a way to show the culture both to newcomers to Athens and to people who are simply unfamiliar with the music of the city.