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Bill Withers Memorial Statue, Park, Festival Planned For Beckley 

Bill Withers, performing on television in London in 1972.
Michael Putland
/
Getty Images
Bill Withers, performing on television in London in 1972.

The city of Beckley will honor the legacy and memory of Bill Withers on Saturday with a music festival. Bands are scheduled to perform at the Beckley Intermodal Gateway Plaza.

Bill Withers was born in Slab Fork in Raleigh County. He grew up in Beckley, W.Va. and despite his fame, often returned to his home state.

Music selected for the festival will carry a theme of "When you're not strong, I’ll help you carry on,” famous lyrics of Bill Withers’ iconic hit, “Lean On Me.” The music line up includes:

  • Carpenter Ants
  • Lords of Lester
  • Matt Mullins & The Bringdowns
  • The Parachute Brigade
  • Drew Bailey Lawrence
  • Scott T. Smith & Aristotle Jones

Groups are also working to cast a bronze statue of the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer. Pastor Frederick Hightower from neighboring Boone County, W.Va. was selected to sculpt the statue.

Beckley officials say the Beckley Intermodal Gateway will be renamed the Bill Withers Plaza once the statue is placed as a focal point.

The Beckley Area Foundation is collecting donations for the statue and park project. Organizers plan to host the free festival annually on the Saturday that falls closest to May 15th. The Foundation is working with the city of Beckley, the Withers Family, the Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce and the Bill Withers Memorial Foundation, which is working towards 501c 3 status.

Withers won multiple Grammys and is a member of Grammy Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He was the first artist to be inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall Of Fame in 2007. Withers passed away in March 2020.

Last year, a Bill Withers historical marker was installed at his alma mater, Stratton High School, which is now Stratton Elementary School.

Though organizers are looking for a “Lovely Day”, if rain is an issue, performances will take place on the second level of the parking garage.

The Bill Withers Memorial Festival begins on Saturday at 1:00 p.m., following the Sweet Treats dessert event in Beckley.

Southern W.Va. Bureau Chief, Reporter/Producer, jlilly@wvpublic.org, 304-384-5981, @JessicaYLilly

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