After a long year of waiting to honor its 2020 class of inductees, the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame will hold inductions for its 2020 and 2021 class on Thursday, October 21, 2021, in Kannapolis, North Carolina. The 2020 inductees, announced last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, included six nationally known and award-winning legends from North Carolina including our very own former Beasley media group Charlotte employee Charles Whitfield.
So let’s dive into a little more about Charles and his journey with the music industry in North Carolina. Charles Whitfield grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. After college, Whitfield worked for Norwest Financial, a banking and financial company, but he had a dream of starting a record label. That dream started when Whitfield worked at the CD Superstore in Durham. He acquired a large collection of CDs with a wide variety of music and happened to notice on the Motown/MoJazz label the name of Steve McKeever.
Whitfield through Chris Bragg, a family friend, and Motown employee contacted McKeever, then borrowed money from his parents to fly to Los Angeles and met with McKeever, who was working to find investors for his new, independent label, Hidden Beach Recordings. So cool!
Whitfield’s older brother, Fred, a gifted basketball player at Campbell University, had met Michael Jordan at Campbell University’s camp in Buies Creek, N.C. that Fred was a counselor. Jordan and Fred became friends and Fred ended up working for David Falk, Michael’s agent, and eventually would work for Nike Basketball, and then was assistant legal counsel for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, a team with Jordan as part owner.
Through Fred, Charles met Jordan at Campbell’s basketball camp, and years later Charles and Fred introduced Steve McKeever to Jordan, who agreed to invest in Hidden Beach Recordings. Steve McKeever has an impressive background as an entertainment lawyer and Motown producer. In November 1998, Hidden Beach Recordings began, specializing in urban alternative, R&B, soul inspirational, and contemporary jazz genres. It is distributed by the Universal Music Group, the largest recording corporation in the world. When it started, Hidden Beach had a one-room office in Santa Monica, California with two employees. Charles Whitfield began as a paid intern at Hidden Beach, handling production and artist relations then joined the label to manage the company’s relationship with Epic Records (their initial distributor) and market them to music stores and other outlets.
The first artist signed to Hidden Beach was Jill Scott, whose debut release, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 sold 2.4 million units and was nominated for three Grammys including Best New Artist. She would go on to release two other studio releases and several live projects as well. In addition, she has won two Grammy Awards along with the countless nominations she has received. Hidden Beach was selected to release Yes We Can: Voices of a Grassroots Movement, a compilation CD whose proceeds benefited the Barrack Obama campaign for President. Artists on that CD included Kanye West, Stevie Wonder, and Sheryl Crow. It was released in September 2008.
After the election of President Obama, Hidden Beach produced the official inauguration collection commemorative CD-DVD set Change is Now: Renewing America’s Promise, which included artists, such as Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, James Taylor, will.i.am, Robin Thicke, Maroon 5, and India.arie as well as others. The CD also includes eight of President Obama’s speeches.
In addition to Hidden Beach Recordings, Charles was one of the investors in the Uptown Charlotte Jazz Fest that started in 2010, and in 2015 the name changed to the Queen City Jazz Fest. He also worked for the Beasley Media Group radio cluster in Charlotte from 2012 until late last year. He now is a Community Relations Manager for Lowe’s Companies Inc.
Dreams really can come true—just ask Charles Whitfield. He is not a musician but has been on the business side for over twenty years and he has a few Platinum and Gold Records hanging on his wall as a testament to his hard work in the music business. He would like to thank all of his family and friends for all of their continued support over the years as well. We are so proud of Charles and his accomplishments, congrats!
The annual ceremony which normally takes place the third Thursday of every October was postponed and ultimately canceled due to the pandemic. To this, the NCMHOF will host its first-ever double induction which will include the 2021 inductees Tony Rice and Robert Moog. The honors will be commemorated in a live event that will take place at the historic Gem Theatre in Kannapolis, NC. The event is open to the public and arrivals to the red carpet will begin at 6:00 pm. The evening will include live performances as the inductees are installed into the Hall of Fame. You can see more on tickets for the event here.
GALLERY: Through the Years with Charles Whitfield and Beasley Media Group Charlotte