When the ballroom doors opened at the World Congress Center in Atlanta on the evening of Sept. 26 to welcome honorees, their families and friends to the 37th Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards, the familiar “jazz infused rock with Southern attitude,” trademark of Joey Stuckey’s band entertained the crowd enjoying the governor’s cocktail party.
His Shadow Sound Studio recently partnered with NewTown Macon to release a CD, “Macon Music,” which features emerging local talent in several arenas. Although Stuckey lost his sight in infancy, reviews of his performances speak of his “clear and insightful vision” interpreting the music of others.
As an official ambassador of music for Macon, his list of professional accomplishments would fill a couple of pages of his biography. For guests from Macon, Stuckey’s appearance was one of many reasons for hometown pride.
Robin Meade, popular host on Turner Entertainment’s “Headline News,” and Jeff Dauler, Atlanta based comedian and radio talk-show host, shared emcee duties for the evening.
John Huie, inductee in the non-performing category, was born in Macon, educated at Davidson College in North Carolina, and returned to Macon to work for the college division of the Paragon Agency, the offshoot of Capricorn Records that handled booking Capricorn and other artists.
Alex Hodges, Mercer University graduate and CEO of Nederlander Concerts in California, was Huie’s boss at Paragon and was on stage to recount the trajectory of his former protégé whose career has taken him from Macon to New York, Los Angeles and Nashville where he is department head of Creative Artists Agency’s satellite office. Huie is credited with attracting established clients such as Alan Jackson, Faith Hill and Lady Antebellum to the CAA stable.
Sam and Dave, the gospel inspired duo, survived their fractious relationship for about 20 years before going their separate ways in 1981. After their final split, tenor Sam Moore tackled the demons brought on by fast living and by fame, and has since been successful as a solo artist and in collaborations with notable artists Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Phil Collins.
But, he is still best remembered for “Soul Man,” the 1967 hit recorded with his former partner, the late Dave Prater, that Rolling Stone magazine named one of the 500 best songs of all time in 2004. Although the program listed Moore as one of the inductees, his performance was a bonus that galvanized the audience with favorites from the days the pair was managed by Phil Walden under the Capricorn banner, and with “Rainy Night in Georgia,” the duet he recorded with Conway Twitty in 1994.
Later, Tosha and Alan Walden introduced their son Christian to Moore when he joined them at their table for some reminiscing over the Capricorn days.
Philip Walden Jr. started working in the mailroom at his father’s Capricorn offices before he could drive a car, a chance to be on the periphery of an industry that would affect many of his decisions the rest of his life.
During the GMHF ceremony, his wife, Melissa Walden, brought their sons Michael and Jarrett to the stage to receive the Georgy, a Tiffany-designed crystal obelisk, posthumously honoring their father’s achievements during his years as an executive with Capricorn Records in Nashville and Atlanta, and his work as part of the legal team with Turner Broadcasting’s Music Group.
His legacy as a devoted husband and an enthusiastic father was reflected in the faces of his daughters Lily and Rachel, who shared the bittersweet moment with their aunt and her husband, Amantha and Nick Weidenfeld, and grandparents Annette and J.L. Burgess and Nana -- that’s me.
In addition to his professional role, Philip Walden Jr. treasured his friendships and dedicated time to the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation and the Georgia Lawyers for the Arts, a nonprofit organization that provides legal services to artists and musicians in need.
He was an avid runner who participated in more than 20 marathons, and a cyclist who encouraged his children and friends to join him in numerous outdoor activities. Celebrating his zest for life were childhood friend former Maconite Rob Hayes and his wife, Jennifer, and Kathy Kennedy and Carol Martin, who traveled from Macon to honor Walden’s family.
MAKING NEW MEMORIES
Prior to the dinner and ceremony, Betty Cantrell, Georgia’s 2016 Miss America, greeted guests in the lobby and asked Philip Walden Jr.’s sons to be photographed with her. Being in the presence of royalty was slightly intimidating, but Cantrell’s clever sense of humor put the young men at ease.
They can one day tell their grandchildren they heard Miss America sing Carrie Underwood’s “Flat on the Floor,” a distinct departure from her winning operatic selection from “Madame Butterfly” in the Miss America competition.
Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or email@example.com.