Induction is appropriatePublished 5:55pm Thursday, February 27, 2014
Little Eva, whose recording of “The Loco-Motion” went to the No. 1 spot on the pop charts in September 1962, will be inducted posthumously into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in October.
Little Eva, born Eva Narcissus Boyd in Belhaven on June 29, 1943, deserves the honor. It’s sad she isn’t here to enjoy her induction. She died in Kinston from complications related to cervical cancer on April 10, 2003.
“The Loco-Motion is one of those songs you don’t forget once you have heard it. Want proof? Two other times it made the American Top Five chart, in 1974 by Grand Funk Railroad (No. 1) and in 1988 by Kylie Minogue (No. 3).
Little Eva made her mark in the music world. Later, as Eva Narcissus Boyd Harris (she married and had children), she made her mark as a bishop in her Christian denomination. Life wasn’t always top hits and touring as a recording star for the Belhaven native. While living in South Carolina after her recording career ended, she was on welfare. Later, she moved to Kinston, working as a waitress.
In a 1987 interview concerning the 25th anniversary of “The Loco-Motion” rising to No. 1 on the pop charts, she said she did not “locomote anymore.” She was referring to her career decision to put aside pop music and focus on gospel music after her pop popularity faded away. In that interview, she talked about how the music industry abused many recording artists of her time by poorly paying them.
After national publicity about her austere circumstances in the late 1980s, she returned to performing for a brief time with some of her music peers on the oldies circuit. In her latter years, she was involved with a ministry.
Little Eva’s “The Loco-Motion” is a toe-tappin’ and feel-good song that lifts one’s spirit.
In 2008, Belhaven unveiled the new headstone marking her grave in Black Bottom Cemetery to kick off the effort to restore the historically black cemetery. The town did the right thing.
Now the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame is doing the right thing by including Little Eva among the state’s greatest music contributors.
Little Eva may not locomote anymore, but the song she made famous keeps rolling down the track deeper into history.