Betty Joyce Solomon 2005

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Betty Joyce Solomon

Inducted in 2005
Listen to Solomon play Cottonpatch Rag on the piano

Born Betty Joyce Bragg in Forney, Kaufman County, Texas, December 31, 1931 to Lawrence and Mamie Bragg. The youngest of six children, Betty grew up and attended schools in Forney. While in high school she started dating Norman Solomon and in August of 1949 they married. They have one daughter, Sharon Gillespie and husband Joe; one son, Ronald and wife Vicky; three grandchildren and three great-grandsons.

Betty always enjoyed music and hoped to someday play the piano. In 1957 they bought their first piano and she immediately began a self-taught mission to play back up for Norman on his fiddle. Jerry Thomasson was living with them at the time to finish his senior year in high school. Norman and Jerry helped Betty tremendously in learning chords, rhythm and progression. They had a reel to reel tape recorder that she nearly wore out running the tunes back and forth trying to learn the changes. Little did she know it was recording in a different key and she had to transpose the changes when they sat down to play.

The years to follow were busy with music. In 1968 Norman and Betty, Norman’s brother Vernon, and their nephew Mike were invited to Washington, DC by Texas Folk Life. They played on stage at the Ford Theatre and entertained along with Ace Reid and Hondo Crouch among other Texas cultures.

Betty has received several honors in her pursuit of music. She was the first female to win the accompanist division at the TOTFA in Burnet, Texas. She was invited to the Grand Master’s Contest in Nashville TN to help judge, and was voted as favorite accompanist at the TOTFA in 1996.

Other highlights include being asked to be a back-up musician on ten recordings, all of which have been Texas style fiddling. In the 1970’s Norman, Vernon and Benny Thomasson were guests on the Porter Waggoner Show with Betty and Jerry accompanying them on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. She has also entertained at the Hemisfair in San Antonio, the University of Texas in Austin, the Knickerbocker Hotel in Chicago, and the State University at Minot, North Dakota.

Some of the greatest guitar players, fiddlers and musicians have encouraged Betty to play and keep playing music. She has learned something from every musician whether it be a chord, note or a tune. “I say it is a God given talent for which I am always thankful to have and enjoy sharing with all musicians and good listeners.”

Music was always the center of entertainment in Norman and Betty’s home. Betty fondly recalls lifelong friendships with many people that began simply through the enjoyment of music.