WHEELING — “The Wheeling Cat” obtained himself one grand birthday current Friday.
On the day he turned 86, mates and followers stood on the entrance of the Capitol Theatre to honor Wheeling nation music icon Slim Lehart for his contributions to music and town. Town’s “Slim Lehart Day” formally was proclaimed April 7, 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic robbed Lehart of a public celebration on that day.
Metropolis officers gave him that long-awaited honor Friday.
Following an introduction from Frank O’Brien, government director of the Wheeling Conference & Guests Bureau, Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott learn aloud the proclamation for “Slim Lehart Day,” which recounted a few of his memorable exploits.
Lehart has loved loads of nice recollections, particularly contained in the Capitol Theatre the place he was honored Friday. This newest celebration, he stated, is an all-time reminiscence.
“That is actually about the most effective one,” Lehart stated, “for native individuals to return out and luxuriate in you and let you know what you’ve performed and the way you helped in several areas.”
Born in Marshall County, Lehart moved to Wheeling at age 15. At 17, he joined the USA Navy and fought within the Korean Struggle. Upon his return, his life in nation music started.
He made his first look for the Wheeling Jamboree on the Rex Theater in 1965. For many years afterward, he carried out on payments with nation music legends. He opened nearly each Saturday live performance for the Wheeling Jamboree and Jamboree USA — although considered one of his favourite recollections was in 1966, when, in Nashville, Johnny Money opened for him.
He took the nickname “The Wheeling Cat” from his signature music and captivated audiences together with his energetic live shows. It wasn’t only a time to sing for him. It was a time to carry out. A photograph Lehart had saved on his cellphone confirmed him strolling down a slender stage within the aisle of the Capitol Theatre throughout a efficiency, each viewers member’s eyes locked on him.
“My fashion was lively, very lively,” he stated. “I used to be off the stage and doing all types of stuff. I used to be doing a present.”
Lehart and the Capitol Theatre turned synonymous. When the venue closed, he was on the entrance of the road preventing to see it reopen. O’Brien held up a photograph at Friday’s occasion displaying Lehart, after a efficiency on the reopened theatre, kneeling right down to kiss the stage. When the theatre was paid off, it was Lehart who obtained to burn the mortgage papers.
“Expertise and musicians like Slim Lehart who’ve been round 40, 50 years, they’ve set the stage for what we’re seeing as we speak,” O’Brien stated.
O’Brien added that Lehart’s stage presence and expertise made him an incredible ambassador by leisure for town of Wheeling, enjoying a method that hearkened again to the traditional nation artists.
“It’s genuine,” he stated. “I can’t consider another phrase to explain it. It’s genuine nation music that appreciates the roots of the style. He at all times stayed with that conventional method. He by no means tried to modernize it or rock it up.”
After greater than 5 many years entertaining crowds from the Capitol to gala’s, festivals and parks, Lehart stated he typically appears to be like again at that lifetime in music with marvel.
“It looks as if I used to be one other particular person,” he stated. “Now, it doesn’t appear to be that was me, to have performed all that stuff. It’s a wierd feeling.”
But it was him. And Wheeling needed to ensure its “Cat” acquired the admiration he has earned.
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