Byrd to be honored in hall of fame

Published 10:36 pm Friday, October 6, 2017

A Chuckatuck native will be inducted into the Virginia Music Hall of Fame and Museum this month.

Charlie Byrd, who became one of the world’s most famous jazz guitarists during an illustrious career, will join the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Patsy Cline, Bruce Hornsby and the Statler Brothers in the hall of fame, which is based in Williamsburg.

“All the directors vote, and they all voted on Charlie,” said Buddy Parker, president of the hall of fame and museum.

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Parker said Byrd’s daughter will attend the Oct. 14 concert at the Kimball Theater in Williamsburg to accept the award for her father.

Byrd was raised in Chuckatuck as one of four brothers. He learned to play the guitar from his father. He attended Virginia Tech and was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he saw World War II combat and played in a band. After the war, he studied at the Harnett National Music School in New York City and began playing classical guitar. He saw Django Reinhardt, who would become one of his greatest influences, perform in Paris.

In the early ‘60s, Byrd did a diplomatic tour in Brazil for the U.S. Department of State and was heavily influenced by the South American music. Many of the performances of his career were with the Charlie Byrd trio, which also featured his brother, Joe Byrd, on bass, according to a story published by the BBC on the occasion of his death in 1999. He was later honored as a Knight of Rio Branco by the Brazilian government, the BBC said.

“He was instrumental in bringing bossa nova jazz to North America,” Parker said.

Throughout his career, Byrd recorded more than 100 albums and performed at the White House for two U.S. presidents, Parker said.