Walt Richardson is truly a Tempe Music legend in no uncertain terms. This icon has been playing his own take on folk, reggae and rock in the local community for over thirty years. This year it appears that Richardson is finally receiving the honors that he deserves. Having started as a street musician and working his way up to world tours, Richardson has always made Tempe his home base and celebrates it in his songs as well.
Earlier this year, on his 60th birthday Tempe declared January 18, 2014 to be Walt Richardson Day and was inducted into Arizona’s Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame at Tempe Center for the Arts. The event was celebrated with an all star concert at which he performed as well. Most recently on November 7th, Richardson was honored once more by the city of Tempe. He is the inaugural musician to be on honored with a gold plaque embedded in the sidewalk on Mill Avenue, creating Tempe’s Music Walk. Each November they will add another band or musician or band to the walk and Richardson has the honor of being the first.
Richardson’s life is embedded in music, even when he’s not playing it himself. He currently hosts Walk-in Wednesdays Open Mic Night at Tempe Center for the Arts, an event welcoming singer/songwriters in an encouraging atmosphere. He also hosts "Songwriters’ Showcase" at Tempe Center for the Arts, which airs on PBS Eight/KAET, on Tempe 11. As if that wasn’t enough, he also hosts a show on Radio Phoenix that is nationally-syndicated on the African American Radio Consortium. My World of Music: A Peaceful Place in Quantum Space, airs 12noon-2pm Saturdays.
If he isn’t making music, he is spreading the word, or encouraging other artists that feel that fire in their soul to create the sounds that move peoples souls. I was deeply move at the dedication for the Tempe Music Walk, when he began his performance with a song by one of his biggest influences, Cat Stevens and his rendition of “Father and Son” was simply amazing–it was also a perfect anthem for this legend who has become a mentor to so many throughout the years.