People’s Hall of Fame

1994 Honorees

Sid Beckerman

for mentoring a generation of young klezmer musicians

Sid BeckermanMr. Beckerman is one of the few living links to the klezmer clarinet tradition as it thrived in the early part of the century in Eastern Europe and on the Lower East Side. His father was the eminent klezmer musician Shloymke Beckerman. His repertoire is one of the largest of any Jewish musician performing today, and he has mentored a generation of young musicians in his programs with music students. For information about booking klezmer bands or about KlezKamp, the Yiddish Folk Arts Camp, call Living Traditions at (212) 691-1272.


Lillie Mae Butler

for perpetuating a unique style of old-time gospel music in New York City

Lillie Mae ButlerMs. Butler, celebrated for her complex old-time gospel singing as well as her incisive, melodic guitar style, made her concert debut in 1990, when she was 76. She and her husband taught the traditional gospel songs of their heritage to their many children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Ms. Butler and her son, the Reverend Robert Butler, play at folk festivals and churches throughout the region, and also practice a gospel ministry. A 30:00 documentary film about the ministry entitled How I Got Over is available from City Lore.

Juan Gutiérrez

for revitalizing traditional Puerto Rican music in New York

Juan GutierrezJuan Gutiérrez is the director of Los Pleneros de la 21, a group of musicians which performs the African-derived bomba and plena music of Puerto Rico. Born in the town of Santurce, Puerto Rico, he named the group after the neighborhood called Parada (bus stop) #21, a community known for its excellent pleneros. Mr. Gutiérrez received a prestigious National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1994. Los Pleneros performs in schools, community centers, and festivals. Call (212) 427-5221 for information or to book the group.


Kool D.J. Herc

for drawing on the Jamaican toasting tradition in the early 1970s to establish the folk roots of rap and hip hop music

Kool DJ HercKnown as the “Godfather of Hip Hop,” Kool Herc was born Clive Campbell in Kingston, Jamaica. In the 1970s, after moving to the Bronx, he organized and dee jayed a string of parties, where his innovations with turntables and extended musical breaks inspired the early break dancers whom Herc nicknamed B-Boys. He and his partner, Coke-La-Rock, began doing rhyming riffs to the music; others like Melle Mel extended the rhymes into full-length pieces; and about five years later the first rap artists — most of whom attended Kool Herc’s parties — were recorded.

Museum of Chinese in the Americas (formerly Chinatown History Museum)

for pioneering a creative model to document a community’s history

Chinese MuseumFounded in 1980 by John Kuo Wei Tchen and Charles Lai, the museum aims to “rescue the history of past generations for the future and to become a vital link in the preservation of a heritage.” Located at 70 Mulberry Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown, the Museum houses permanent and changing exhibitions, sponsors educational programs and walking tours, and maintains research facilities. Call (212) 619-4785 for information about programs and hours or visit their website,

Bob Wilson (left) and Cleve Jones (right)

for originating and perpetuating the AIDS Quilt

Bob WilsonCleve JonesConceived in 1985, the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt carries forward the tradition of community quilting, drawing people together in the shared act of creating patterns and memories in cloth. Every three-by-six panel pays tribute to someone who has died or is dying from the disease. Cleve Jones conceived the idea when he saw a patchwork display of placards bearing the names of AIDS victims. He made the first panel for a friend, Marvin Feldman. Bob Wilson has since passed away.


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