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Lettermen founder's return holds promise for vocal hall


Published: Sun, March 26, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


The homecoming of Tony Butala to Sharon, Pa., to take a lead role in reshaping and revitalizing the national Vocal Group Hall of Fame bodes well for the future of the hall.
Butala, founder and lead singer of The Lettermen vocal group, has owned the home on the city's West Hill where he was born since 1979. He's coming back to his roots. When not touring, he plans to devote his energies to the hall and its multi-faceted mission.
His involvement holds promise for growth, diversity and greater success for the VGHF, which has had its share of financial and programming ups and downs since its founding nearly 10 years ago.
Butala brings more than 50 years of professional experience and expertise in the vocal music industry to guide the hall's growth. Today, growth is its watchword. Butala will help with renovations to the hall's new three-floor museum in the former Phoenix Restaurant complex in downtown Sharon.
An eye on growth
His creative plans include adding a public restaurant and piano bar to the museum, a complex that would double as clubhouse for any of the 75 living artists already inducted into the hall of fame. The complex would add a new dimension to the hall of fame and museum that could serve to increase its popularity and attendance after dark.
Such success would have spinoff impact on other worthy endeavors of the VGHF Foundation. They include serving as advocates for musical artists throughout the country. Just last month, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell signed the "Truth in Musical Advertising Act, & quot; which was inspired by the VGHF. People passing themselves off as original music acts without any original members can now be fined $5,000 to $15,000 in Pennsylvania. The hall foundation also looks to build a retirement home with an assisted-living care wing for vocal group members who are in financial need.
We wish Butala and other officials success in realizing their ambitious but fine-tuned plans. The maturation of the VGHF into a more widely known and respected museum and music complex throughout the nation will reflect well on the hall, on Sharon and on the Mahoning and Shenango valleys.


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