Little Eva to join N.C. Music Hall of FamePublished 5:22pm Monday, March 3, 2014
Eva Narcissus Boyd Harris — who?
But say Little Eva and many people, especially Baby Boomers, know exactly whom you are talking about.
Little Eva will be inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame on Oct. 16 in the Gem Theater in Kannapolis. Eva Narcissus Boyd, born in Belhaven on June 29, 1943, is best known for her No. 1 pop hit “The Loco-Motion” in September 1962. She died in Kinston from complications related to cervical cancer on April 10, 2003.
She is buried in a cemetery in Belhaven.
At an early age, she moved to the Brighton Beach area of New York at an early age. She was a babysitter for hit songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin. They had a role in her recording “The Loco-Motion.”
The song has appeared in the American Top Five pop-hits chart three times, in 1963 by Little Eva, in 1974 by Grand Funk Railroad (No. 1) and in 1988 by Kylie Minogue (No. 3). The song is part of the dance-song genre, in which a song provides directions to do a dance specific to the song. Little Eva had some moderate success after “The Loco-Motion,” most notably with “Let’s Turkey Trot.”
In a 1987 interview with the Washington Daily News for an article concerning the 25th anniversary of “The Loco-Motion” rising to No. 1 on the pop charts, the Belhaven native 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 popularity waned.
After national publicity about her plight in the late 1980s — she was holding down a minimum-wage job as a waitress in Kinston and had received welfare while living in South Carolina before she moved to Kinston — 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.
On Nov. 8, 2008, Belhaven unveiled the new headstone marking her grave in Black Bottom Cemetery to kick off the effort to restore the historically black cemetery. Before then, her grave was marked with rusty tin marker. Quincy Edgerton made the new grave marker.