2021 Inductees

2021 Inductees
Bennie Moten Morey Sullivan Stanton Kessler
Dixie Cadillacs Bob Marriott & the Continentals Featuring Chuck Vallant Ted Anderson
Jerry Dowell Tech N9ne Mark Meckel

Bill Lee Award:
Tech N9ne

Bob Hapgood Award:
Mark Meckel

Bennie Moten
Bennie Moten, Kansas City

Jazz as an American musical idiom began its coalescence at the beginning of the twentieth century. Many music scholars speak of the “Four Pillars of Jazz”: New Orleans, Kansas City, Chicago, and New York. More than anyone else initially, Jazz pianist and bandleader Bennie Moten’s riffing, Blues-based style with a pronounced backbeat defined the essential elements of Kansas City Jazz (also early Rock & Roll decades later).
Benjamin “Bennie’ Moten was born in Kansas City in 1894. He quickly developed his skills as a pianist, and eventually a bandleader. As Bennie Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra, he made his first recordings for the OKeh label between 1923 and 1925. Signing with Victor Records in 1926, Moten soon became one of Victor’s most popular orchestras, and recorded prolifically for the label. What became a Moten signature song “South” was initially recorded for Okeh. His 1928 Victor re-recording of “South” became so popular that ealy jukeboxes were wearing out records faster than they could be supplied. Victor’s solution was to create the first ever double sided record, with “South” on both sides. In the late 1940’s, it once again became a big jukebox hit, remaining in print as a vinyl 45 until RCA stopped making vinyl records.
By 1929, Moten started recruiting musicians who would soon be associated with Count Basie. Oran ‘Hot Lips’ Page (trumpet, vocals), Eddie Durham ( guitar, trombone, composer/arranger) , Walter Page (double bass), Ben Webster (saxophone), Jimmy Rushing (vocalist), plus Count Basie himself (piano) would point the band’s sound firmly toward the ensuing “Swing Era”. This was reflected in the band’s final Victor recording session on December 13, 1932. Moten was not present for these sessions, but the ten sides recorded that day yielded future Swing classics like “Toby”, “The Only Girl I Ever Loved”, “The Blue Room” and “Prince Of Wails”.
On April 2,1935, Bennie Moten died at Kansas City’s Wheatley-Provident Hospital following a botched tonsillectomy. Basie took many of the leading musicians from the band to form his own orchestra, which in a few years moved to New York City and immortality. Author Nathan W. Pearson Jr. summarized Motens influence on Kansas City’s Jazz legacy: ”Among Kansas City musicians…the city, the style and era of its flowering are virtually synonymous with the Bennie Moten Orchestra”.

Morey Sullivan

Morey Sullivan, Topeka

Morey Sullivan was born into a musical family. His father was a professional musician, and a broadcaster on radio and TV. Morey began working in his dad’s band when he was 13. That began years in various country, jazz and rock groups. He was the bass player for Country Music Hall of Fame member Hank Thompson for 25 years, and leader of his band, the Brazos Valley Boys. He’s still leader of the Brazos Valley Boys, an award winning western swing band playing a hybrid of jazz, big band swing and country. Working with Hank Thompson provided the opportunity to play most of the major casinos in Las Vegas and Reno, along with Lincoln Center in New York, and many arenas around the country. From 1988 to 1996, Morey Sullivan was the first Executive Director of the Topeka Performing Arts Center, presenting such acts as Jay Leno, Dionne Warwick, Barry Manilow, the Broadway Show CATS, and the Smothers Brothers. In the mid -’90s, Morey produced and directed a show featuring an all – Kansas group of performers that toured Russia. Sullivan’s latest project is a new Brazos Valley Boys CD, which includes a duet with longtime friend Ray Benson of Asleep At The Wheel. He holds a degree in music from The University of Central Mssouri, is a member of 5 Western Swing Halls of Fame including those of Texas, California and Washington State. And now, Morey Sullivan is a 2021 inductee to The Kansas Music Hall of Fame.

Stanton Kessler
Stanton Kessler, Kansas City

Stanton Kessler has had a long, interesting and varied musical career. He has been fortunate to play with some of the best musicians and most exciting bands in Kanas and the greater KC Metro area.
In the ’70s, Stan embarked on a career playing various genres of popular music. He joined “The Rhythm Kings”, a Rock & Soul Band led by 2013 KSMHOF inductee Steve Werner, along with 2013 KSMHOF inductee Bill Bergman, and Greg Whitfield, member of 2017 KSMHOF inductee Stone Wall. After that, it was the band Hotfoot, also with Werner & Whitfield, originally a soul/funk band. The band’s identity eventually changed to more of a Rock & Roll format. At the end of the decade, Stan started leading his own jazz bands, including Stan Kessler & The Flat Five and The Stan Kessler Quartet.
In the ’80s Stan truly led a double musical life. While continuing his pursuit of jazz, he formed an 8 piece jazz/funk/fusion group called Eightball, with stalwarts Jimmy Dykes and Allen Cook. After a stint in the band The House Band, Stan formed one of the most formidable dance bands ever assembled in Kansas City, Baby Leroy. This group included his wife, Becky Reed, a Lawrence legend, who had been with Tide, The Penetrations, Used Parts and The Glee Club. In the late ’80s Stan resumed his jazz career, collaborating with Becky to form Pyramid, a popular jazz quintet.
The ’90s saw a decidedly Latin influence to Stan’s career. Three salsa bands received his attention, Sensation Caribe, The Guacamole Band and Mambo X. Stan followed his tenure with the Afro-Cuban scene with a real passion for the music of Brasil. He formed The Sons of Brasil, which he still leads today after three decades. Meanwhile, Stan formed and led several other jazz groups, including Stan Kessler’s Television, The Stan Kessler Quartet/Quintet and Horacescope.
In the 21st century, Stan continues to lead multiple jazz groups, including The SOBs, Horacescope, Passport, The Kessler/Embrey Conspiracy, Parallax, Playground, The Crossroads Quartet,The Uncertainty Principle, and The Stan Kessler Duo/Trio/Quartet. To this day, he is still very busy performing in clubs, festivals, and restaurants, while maintaining an adjunct position at UMKC and teaching privately.

Dixie Cadillacs
Dixie Cadillacs, Kansas City

The Dixie Cadillacs have shared their musical skills on many stages in many countries throughout the world. Their songs have charted on the Billboard Top 100, and their music videos have received worldwide appeal. Sharing stages with some of the best in the business over the last 30 years and more, they have garnered “best-of awards” locally, nationally, and within the music industry. From fairs to colleges to clubs, festivals and concert stages, the Dixie Cadillacs have delivered their roots-driven country based feel-good dance music to the delight of audiences from Canada to Puerto Rico, and across Europe and the US. Whether playing original tunes or classic audience favorites, the Cadillacs continue to be elite entertainers.

Bob Marriott & the Continentals Featuring Chuck Vallant
Bob Marriott & the Continentals Featuring Chuck Vallant, Osawatomie/Ottawa

Before there was a Fabulous Flippers, King Midas and the Muflers, Red Dogs, or Sensational Showmen, there was Bob Marriott and the Fabulous Continentals, the first known integrated R&B group in Kansas. Formed in 1962, the original lineup consisted of Bob Marriott (guitar and vocals), Ricky Lee (keyboards), Larry Henseik (drums and vocals), Cliff Manning (bass, trumpet, vocals), and featured vocalist Chuck Vallent whose birth name is Aubrey Washington, and who is a cousin of Hank Ballard. In 1963, they cut a 45 for Jayco Records, a cover of “Night Train” on one side, and “I’ll Walk A Mile” written by lead singer Vallent on the other. The record got national airplay and is highly collectable today. They began playing on weekends, from greater KC to western Kansas. Starting in 1965, they branched out, playing prime venues in states all over the country. Acts they either played with or backed up read like a Who’s Who of early to mid-’60s music. They include Del Shannon, Bruce Channel, Chubby Checker, The Contours, Roy Head, The Four Tops, Bobby Hebb, and Booker T Jones. Around 1967-68, the Continentals added a horn section. Larry Fike (trombone, keyboards), and Tim Ballard (sax, trumpet) were joined in the fun by bassist Cliff Manning, who played bass with his left hand, and trumpet with the right. The band continued with limited personnel changes until their break up in 1969. Drummer Larry Henseik continued playing in various aggregations with Bob Marriott until Marriott’s passing in 1994.

Ted Anderson
Ted Anderson, Kansas City

Starting out in the coffeehouses and folk clubs of the Midwest, Ted began writing songs after moving to Los Angeles in the mid 1960’s. The move was inspirational, as Ted soon became dedicated to a career in songwriting. As a member of the New Society, chosen to replace the departing Michael Martin Murphy, Ted’s songs began to draw attention, and three of his songs were recorded by the New Society on the RCA label. A highlight of his time with The New Society was the group appearing on The Miss Universe pageant, televised nationally from Miami Beach. By 1967, Ted had left The New Society and recorded “House on the Hill” for Columbia Records, which has become a bit of an underground classic. A year later, Maffitt and Davies, a pair of backup players for Glenn Yarborough that Ted befriended on the coffee house circuit, recorded his song “City Sidewalks” for their Capitol album “The Rise And Fall Of Honesty”. In 1969, Brewer and Shipley decided to move from Los Angeles back to Kansas City, where a college booking circuit was growing out of the Vanguard coffee house. Brewer and Shipley were managed by Stan Plesser, founder of Good Karma Productions, who soon offered management and booking to Ted. In addition to Chet Nichols and Danny Cox, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils came on board, and Ted began touring the country as an opening act for “the Daredevils”.
In 1971, Ted’s song, “Seems Like a Long Time”, was recorded by Brewer and Shipley for their album, “Tarkio Road”, which featured the hit “One Toke Over The Line”. That same year, Rod Stewart recorded “ Seems Like A Long Time” for “Every Picture Tells A Story”, his breakout album featuring “Maggie May”. Several years later, Ricky Lee Jones included her version on “The Devil You Know” album.
Today, Ted lives and works in Nashville, continuing to write and record songs with the joy and satisfaction that only a lifetime devoted to music and songwriting can bring. His latest CD releases include “Digressions Of A Dogface Cowboy” from 2017, “Leave A Light On” from 2020, and his 2021 release ”Advancing The Narrative”.

Jerry Dowell
Jerry Dowell, Dodge City

Jerry Dowell is a throwback enjoying a comeback. Dowell — a singer, songwriter, recording artist, poet, and leader of The Jerry Dowell Band — has retired from performing, but enjoys the success his many compositions are having on platforms like Spotify, Youtube, and Amazon. Songs such as “Condition of the Highway,” “Teresa,” “If I Saw You In The Moonlight” and “Loaded Gun” (which has over 300,000 views on Youtube), will advance his musical legacy far into the future.
A cowboy in spirit who served in the U.S. Army, Dowell has made a significant and important impact on Midwest music for over 50 years. A native of Fowler, KS, he began his music career in 1964 with a high school band called the Dyheedrals, which became The Dodge Band, and finally The Jerry Dowell Band.
Dowell’s signature style is a mixture of Blues, Country and Rock, with an occasional touch of Jazz. Wichita broadcaster Jedd Boudoin once wrote in a review of Dowell, “he does prove himself a unique voice in the wilderness, a talented songwriter and singer who commits himself fully to whatever path he sets foot upon with his well-traveled voice and worn but feisty guitar.”
Although never having a Top 40 hit, Jerry Dowell’s current success on line continues to grow, and his musical influence will continue for years to come.

Tech N9ne
Tech N9ne, Kansas City

Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne is an accomplished hip-hop aficionado, having released 17 albums and selling over 2 million copies over the course of his 30 year career. With 4 platinum singles and a gold album under his belt, Tech has made multiple appearances on Forbes Magazine’s Top Hip-Hop Earners list, averaging over $8 million as the co-founder of independent record label Strange Music with business partner, Travis O’Guin.

Tech’s career began in 1991 as a member of a group named Black Mafia. Earning his stripes in different groups before going solo, Tech was featured on the soundtrack to the movie “Gang Related”, which starred the late Tupac Shakur. After a feature on a collaborative track with hip-hop notables KRS-One, RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan, and a young Eminem gave him national recognition, Tech and partner Travis founded the record label Strange Music, a moniker that drew its name from one of Tech’s biggest influences,: the late Jim Morrison of the Doors.

His first album under the label, “Absolute Power”, debuted in the Billboard 200 Charts. Subsequent releases bolstered his national profile, including his 2006 album “Everready (The Religion)”, which netted his first platinum single, “Caribou Lou”. His highest charting album, “All 6’s and 7’s” in 2011, was released to universal acclaim by music critics, and peaked at number 4 on the Billboard 200, and number 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. Tech’s fast rhyming style, called “chopping”, and multifaceted skill set has led to numerous collaborations with artists of different genres, including Eminem, Ice Cube, Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Boyz II Men, and even The Doors. His latest album, Asinine, contains the track “Face Off”, which features actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Tech continues to conduct multiple national and world tours, and Strange Music is currently the number one independent label in the world with a roster boasting 15 artists ranging in genres from rap to pop music. Tech also gives back to the community, partnering with “Harvesters”, a community food network, the only food bank in the Kansas City area.

Mark Meckel
Mark Meckel, Hays

Mark Meckel is the publisher of two Grammy winning songs with a remarkably diverse career of over four decades. Meckel built his first of several music publishing companies, (Street Singer Music), and a full-service recording studio (Sunset Studio), developing local and regional talent in his hometown of Hays, Kansas. Since relocating to Nashville in the mid 1990’s, his ear for a hit has resulted in songs recorded by Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Faith Hill, Waylon Jennings, Reba McEntire, Peter Paul & Mary, Linda Ronstadt, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Emmylou Harris and many more.