Secretary of State Ken Detzner this week in Tallahassee announced the selection of four new members to be inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.
Cape Coral's Lee Bennett Hopkins, the first artist from Cape Coral or Lee County ever to be inducted, was selected along with singer/songwriter Billy Dean of Quincy, guitarist Don Felder of Gainesville, and entertainer Jim Stafford of Winter Haven. The induction ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 23 at the annual Convening Culture Conference in Gainesville.
"It's a tremendous honor to be selected," said Hopkins. "I've been in Florida for 13 years and have done a lot to encourage arts in Lee County Schools. It's a bit surreal to be in a Hall of Fame with the likes of Tennessee Williams. Unbelieveable, actually."
Cape Coral’s Lee Bennett Hopkins, the first artist from Cape Coral or Lee County ever to be inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, was selected along with singer/songwriter Billy Dean of Quincy, guitarist Don Felder of Gainesville, and entertainer Jim Stafford of Winter Haven. The induction ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 23 at the annual Convening Culture Conference in Gainesville.
Hopkins has made extraordinary contributions to the arts in Florida and nationally. He founded the annual Lee Bennett Hopkins Writing Institute for Children at Edison College (now Florida SouthWestern). Recently he was nominated as Florida's poet laureate demonstrating both his love for poetry and the state.
"I have created over 200 children's books in my career," said Hopkins, 78. "I have compiled more poetry for children than anyone else in the world and established three major awards for children's poetry."
Once the induction ceremony is completed a plaque with the inductees names on it will be placed on a wall at the Statehouse in Tallahassee.
"Induction into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed upon artists by the State of Florida," said Detzner. "We are fortunate to have these four artists that have brought tremendous distinction to our state through their careers and tireless devotion to their crafts. Their work has touched and inspired countless people, and it is fitting that we honor them for their influence and brilliance."
Hopkins has three more children's books currently in production and is working on four more.
Hopkins also was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011 when he had 113 book titles to his credit making him the world's most prolific anthologist of poetry for children.
"I am just overjoyed," Hopkins said. "I come from a poor background, grew up in the projects in New Jersey, so it is interesting how we come full circle in life."
The Hall of Fame currently consists of more than 50 inductees, including musician/performers Ray Charles and Jimmy Buffett, actor/director Burt Reynolds, and writers Tennessee Williams and Ernest Hemingway.
For more information about the Hall of Fame visit dos.myflorida.com/cultural/programs/florida-artists-hall-of-fame.