Connellsville's own “Mr. Trombone” Harold Betters has enjoyed a long and illustrious life in music, receiving numerous recognitions and awards.
Another was added to his collection this month when he received the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Fayette County NAACP.
“Mr. Betters has made great contributions in the field of music for the people of Fayette County,” said Fayette NAACP President Gwendolyn Ridgley. “The man and his horn are legendary, and our nation's audiences have been richly blessed to have heard him.”
With an impressive career that spanned more than four decades, Betters brought his jazz music to audiences all over the country. He recorded and produced more than a dozen albums and CDs, which are still heard on many radio stations.
Betters performed with Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt, Slide Hampton, Ramsey Lewis and Urbie Green. The Harold Betters Quartet toured with Ray Charles and appeared with Dick Gregory at the famous Apollo Theater in New York City.
Television appearances have included guest spots on the “Tonight Show,” “The Merv Griffin Show” and “The Mike Douglas Show.”
Betters was recognized by the Playboy Jazz Poll as one the best trombone players in the country, being named “Mr. Versatile” by Downbeat Magazine, and received the “Man of the Year in Music” from the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce.
In Connellsville, Betters was inducted into the 2011 Falcon Foundation Hall of Fame; received the 2014 Most Distinguished Citizen award from the Greater Connellsville Chamber of Commerce; and was honored on Nov. 8, 2014, declared Harold Betters Day in the city.
On that day, Betters was officially presented the key to the city, and the band shell at East Park in Connellsville was named the Harold Betters Band Shell in his honor.
Because he was unable to attend the award presentation, Betters' son, Curtis, accepted for his father.
“It is truly an honor and a privilege to accept this award on behalf of my father,” Curtis Betters said. “He is truly a remarkable man, and I try every day to emulate him. I am very proud of him and of his accomplishments and achievements.”
Harold Betters, 87, said he was thrilled to be recognized by the NAACP and to receive the prestigious award.
“It is an honor and a privilege to have been given this award by the NAACP,” Harold Betters said, adding that he now wishes to relax and enjoy time with loved ones. “I have enjoyed a long and great musical career, but at this point in life I would like just to relax and enjoy my family, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Medi