William ‘Cheese’ Ray was one of the most popular and best beloved country singers Bermuda produced. *Photo courtesy of Dale Butler
William ‘Cheese’ Ray was one of the most popular and best beloved country singers Bermuda produced. *Photo courtesy of Dale Butler
Five giants of Bermuda’s country and western scene will be inducted into the Hall of Fame tomorrow night.

The quintet are the first of their genre to be honoured with a place in the Bermuda Musicians and Variety Artists Hall of Fame.

The new entries include Jean Howes, Tommy Horseman, Sammy Moniz, Jack Whitney and William ‘Cheese’ Ray.

Mrs. Howes, who is still performing every week at the age of 84, will be attending the ceremony at Shine’s Music School in St John’s Road, Pembroke at 5:30pm on November 25.

She told the Sun she was very excited about being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Mrs. Howes added: “I certainly was not expecting to receive this kind of honour at this stage in my career.

“I am very pleased to get it though and am looking forward to Thursday night.

“I will be there with my son.

“I have played with all the other musicians who are being inducted into the Hall of Fame so it will be a special night for me.”

Mrs. Howes started her musical career at the tender age of nine and was taught her first song by her mother.

By the age of 11 she was blind in both eyes after she was hit in the eye with a rock.

Despite the accident she went on to perform at bars and hotels across Bermuda with three country and western bands.

She added: “I learnt music very much by ear after I went blind.

“After 10 years of playing with the bands I would play every week at church.

“I only gave that up last year — I thought it was time to give the new generation a chance.

“But we still play at rest homes across the island and I still love what I do.”

Mrs. Howes and Mr. Whitney are the only two of the quintet that are still alive today.

Mr. Moniz, who was known as Bermuda’s yodeling cowboy, passed away earlier this year on July 7.

The ceremony on Thursday has been organized by Dale Butler and Wendell ‘Shine’ Hayward, who are responsible for the Hall of Fame.

Mr. Butler said: “We have been wanting to do a country and western category for quite some time now.

“And the number of musicians being inducted shows that Bermuda had a real country and western heritage.

“A lot of people just imagine jazz and calypso — but we are introducing another element here and we hope to do reggae soon too.

“These guys were phenomenal in their day and they had a huge following a long time before country and western became big in Bermuda.

“They were the early giants of their genre.”