Determined to celebrate some of the best in Niagara Falls music, the Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame held a Covid protocol, stripped down version of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 22, 2021 at the historic Rapids Theatre with Tom Gariano returning to serve as the Emcee.

Led by NFMHOF member Tom Gariano, the A-List Band got the night of music started off with a performance that included fellow Hall of Famer Chris Critelli of the band Beginnings for the Chicago songs “Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is” and “Saturday in the Park”.

It was a night of firsts for the NFMHOF beginning with the induction of D’Amico Music into The Hall. D’Amico Music first opened in 1972 when owner Jerry D’Amico offered a store featuring musical instruments, gear, records, and concert tickets. The store also offered music lessons and a recording studio. Since Jerry’s death, his daughter Ivy has taken over the store and continues to offer music gear and some lessons. In her acceptance speech, Ivy noted that she has been blessed over the years.

A posthumous presentation, string player Charles Chiarenza began his musical career at a very young age and went on to become an in demand session player, screen extra, and a restaurateur. His musical credits include performing with Mitzi Gaynor.Burt Bacharach, Lorne Green, and Jerry Lewis. NFMHOF President Peter Paonessa, Jr accepted the award in Chiarenza’s honour.

Multi talented Michael Hatalak is an every man when it comes to creating and producing music. A hard rock enthusiast, he has performed with Shortness of Breath, Structure, Plain of Ashes, It Dies Today, and Tiny Music. His music has also appeared in a number of film and television productions. Noting that he has performed before tens of thousands of fans, Hatalak said that he has never been so nervous before a crowd.

NFMHOF member Jim Jeckovich gave a performance.

Niagara Falls native Marsha McWilson may have gotten her start in the church, but she has branched out into numerous facets of the entertainment world including acting, writing, and performing music – both her own and that of Etta James. In another NFMHOF first, McWilson becomes the first female of colour to become a member of the Hall of Fame. On stage McWilson noted that she was also celebrating her 28th wedding anniversary and brought husband Howard up on stage to join her as she performed the Etta James signature song “At Last”.

While he now calls Niagara Falls, Ontario his home; Thomas Nelson got his musical start in Niagara Falls, New York where while still in his teens he began performing on stage. The bass player has performed in the church and with several bands including Supreme Soul, London Fog, Purple Gas, Earth Family, the Shredded Wheat Band, 4 Way Street, and Liberation & Brimstone. Later his musical credits include Terry Dee’s Rock and Roll Circus, Canadian Folk singer Colleen Peterson, and his own band The Thomas Nelson Band. Nelson’s sisters accepted the award in his honour.

Now making his home in Los Angeles where he is an in demand session player and composer for film and television; Thom Rotella is a native of Niagara Falls, New York. Over the course of his musical career, Rotella has performed with numerous artists including Norah Jones, Donna Summer, Frank Sinatra, Cher, The Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Lionel Ritchie, Bette Midler, Luciano Pavarotti, Seth MacFarland, and David Foster. George Edwards accepted the award for Rotella.

Niagara Falls Music Hall of Fame secretary JoAnn Simon presented the video for the In Memorian segment of those who have been lost over the past year.

Sam Morreale was a dentist by day but was known throughtout the region for his ability as a “Sax Man” and perhaps even more for his knowledge when it came to the musical history of the area. In 2019, the Board of Directors for the Niagara Music Hall of Fame created the Sam Morreale Music Award to honour someone who is as passionate about the musical history as Morreale himself was. The 2020 recipient of the award is musician, promoter, and radio personality Thomas F. Protor IV.

In the final induction of the night the members of Seven Day Faith returned to the stage after a 10 year hiatus to rock the house. What began as a couple of school mates jamming together; Seven Day Faith became a “power pop” band that topped the Billboard Independent Music Chart in 2004 and has opened for numerous international stars including Bret Michaels, 98 Degrees, Michele Branch, Bowling for Soup, Sean Paul, Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, Avril Lavigne, LL Cool J, Nickelback, Our Lady Peace, and Papa Roach.

With the induction of Seven Day Faith into the Hall of Fame, the organization has its first father and son combo as members of the Hall of Fame with Tom Gariano and Rob Bilson.

Seven Day Faith closed out the evening of music with a jam session of the Aretha Franklin hit “Respect”. The band was joined by members of the A-List Band and Marsha McWilson.