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Work begins on Uptown Beckley monument honoring Bill Withers

INSTITUTE/ BECKLEY, W.Va. (WVVA) The artist commissioned to create a Bill Withers monument in Uptown Beckley offered a first look at some of his work on Saturday.

Withers is the Slab Fork native and Grammy award winner whose songs -- Lean on Me, Just the Two of Us, and Ain't No Sunshine, to name a few -- became household names across the world.

Since the songwriter's passing in March, the City of Beckley and Beckley Area Foundation are working to pay tribute to Withers through a new monument in Uptown. The city commissioned the same sculptor who did the Katherine Johnson statue in Institute, W.Va., Pastor Frederick Hightower.

"The hardest part is making sure you get him right," said Pastor Hightower as he showcased prototypes for the project on Saturday.

To create an accurate representation of Withers, Hightower is doing his homework, studying all of the pictures he can find and hopefully meeting with the family to iron out the finer details.

"With a sculpture you have to have a three-dimensional look. You put up pictures so you can have every angle of his face and be accurate."

The whole process is likely to take ten months and cost $250,000.

Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold said the Beckley Area Foundation (BAF) is getting ready to kick off a formal fundraising campaign. WVVA News will bring you more details on that campaign as it gets underway.

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Annie Moore

Multimedia Journalist

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