In 2018, the Festival launched a new annual tradition. Each year, the festival management team will select one musician who is originally from or has spent a significant part of their music career in the state of Missouri.

These legendary musicians will be recognized at the festival for their significant contributions to music and culture. These honorees will be inducted into our Missouri music “hall of fame” we call the Missouri Roots Songbook. The primary purpose of this new annual tradition is to encourage the young people of Missouri to take pride in the incredibly rich musical heritage of our home state.  

John “Blind” Boone 2019 honoree

Boone was a musical prodigy, at the age of nine, it is said, that he was able to play piano music after hearing it just one time. Boone began composing original piano music as a child. At the age of fourteen, in 1879, Boone was discovered by a Columbia businessman, John Lange and soon became a professional, touring musician. Boone’s unique compositions fused his classical training with traditional African American rhythms, developing a uniquely American sound. Music scholars and historians attribute Boone as an innovator in the development of ragtime music. Boone was one of the first artists recorded by the QRS piano roll company in 1912. Boone retired in June 1927 after completing forty-seven touring seasons. Boone lived his entire life in Missouri.

Past Honorees