Seven musicians and folk artists were inducted into the Louisiana Folklife Center’s Hall of Master Folk Artists held at Northwestern State University on Saturday July 21 as part of the 39th Annual Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival. Inductees included Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and former Elvis Presley guitarist, James Burton, who also served as Honorary Festival Chair, Burton’s fellow band mate in Elvis Presley’s band, Estelle Brown of the Sweet Inspirations, Elvis Presley’s original drummer, D.J. Fontana, Natchitoches musician/promoter/philanthropist Rodney Harrington, folk artist Clementine Hunter, musician and craftsman Hilton Lytle, and rockabilly musician Jim Oertling.
Dr. Tommy Ike Hailey, associate professor of anthropology and director of the Cultural Resource Office at NSU, accepted on behalf of Oertling who was unable to attend. Phyllis Liberto accepted on behalf of her uncle, D.J. Fontana, who was inducted posthumously, and Stephanie Sewell, accepted on behalf of her great grandmother, Clementine Hunter, also inducted posthumously. Hunter’s granddaughter, Deloris Sewell, and Hunter’s great granddaughter, Diane Brown, were also in attendance.
Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the Louisiana Folklife Center at NSU, took part in the induction ceremony. Dignitaries included Natchitoches City Council members Sylvia Morrow and Dale Nielsen, Kelvin Porter from the office of State Rep. Kenny Cox, and Jerrie Ledoux from the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson.