GREENSBORO — Lorenzo “Logie” Meachum has been called “Greensboro’s hidden treasure.”
His friends and fans knew him as the city’s consummate bluesman, storyteller, actor, writer, arts educator and activist.
Meachum, 66, died on Dec. 29 after a long battle with prostate cancer.
On Wednesday, ArtsGreensboro honored Meachum posthumously with the 2019 Betty Cone Medal of Arts.
Named for the longtime arts supporter and sponsored by AT&T N.C., the medal is the highest local award presented annually to artists.
“Few in Greensboro exemplify excellence and have made a lasting impact more than Logie Meachum,” ArtsGreensboro said in announcing the award.
Cone presented the award at HQ Greensboro at the annual celebration of ArtsGreensboro.
Meachum grew up listening to soul music at his family’s juke joint. He taught African-American studies at UNCG and wrote a children’s book based on one of his favorite phrases he used when working with young people, “Great googley moogley.”
“It’s about all the things that make you say, ‘Great googley moogley!’ ” Meachum said in a June 2016 interview with 1808: Greensboro’s Magazine. “I’m trying to get young people to find delight in the present moment.”
Atiba Berkley, president of the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, was among those who nominated Meachum. He accepted the award on Meachum’s behalf.
In his nomination, Berkley called Meachum “Greensboro’s griot and renaissance man.”
“Meachum’s devotion to music, learning and friendships allowed him to cultivate an authentic presence that was equally at home in a barroom blues jam or an interfaith religious service,” Berkley wrote.
A Greensboro native who grew up during the time of segregation, “Meachum infused his music and storytelling with a spirituality and a knowledge of local history in a way that commanded moral authenticity,” Berkley added.
Meachum performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and in 2007 won the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society’s competition, advancing to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
His artistry previously earned him the O. Henry Lifetime Achievement Award from ArtsGreensboro.
Doug Mokaren, long active in the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society, also recommended Meachum for the award.
“The audiences, young and old, loved his stories of growing up with his grandma and aunties,” Mokaren wrote. “Logie could command an audience of three people to thousands. He was not shy to engage in song or conversation with whoever was around.”
“Logie Meachum,” Mokaren added, “is Greensboro’s hidden treasure.”
ArtsGreensboro also honored other award recipients from the past year.
Sam Hummel received the O. Henry Award in January, recognizing his lifelong contributions to the city’s arts and cultural development.
Gia Drink Eat Listen received the Arts in Business Award in April. The award, given by ArtsGreensboro, Greensboro Chamber of Commerce and Greensboro Merchants Association, recognizes small businesses for leadership and commitment to the arts and its impact on the arts.
And next week, Donna Brotherton, director of choral activities at Weaver Academy, will be honored as the 2018 Wells Fargo Arts Education Teacher of the Year.