Inductees

 


November 2006 April 2007 November 2007 April 2008 November 2008
April 2009 November 2009 November 2010 May 2011 October 2011
November 2011 June 2012 September 2012    


CLASS OF SEPTEMBER 2012

Kings of Leon

 

Kings of LeonKings of Leon
Comprised of three Followill brothers - Caleb (guitar), Nathan (drums), and Jared (bass), as well as first cousin Matthew Followill (guitar) - Kings of Leon formed in 2000. Oklahoma natives, the Followill siblings spent much of their youth traveling to churches across the South with their mother and father, a Pentecostal preacher. While growing up, the boys were only allowed to listen to church music, a rich combination of organs, guitars, pianos, basses, drums and horns. They relocated to Nashville in the late 90s and embraced their interest in rock music, which was denied to them as kids. Matthew was added to the lineup, and a Southern garage rock sound emerged.

Kings of Leon's debut album Youth and Young Manhood was released in 2003 and became an immediate sensation in the UK and Ireland, where NME declared it "one of the best debut albums of the last 10 years" and The Guardian described the band as "the kind of authentic, hairy rebels The Rolling Stones longed to be." The group achieved opening spots for U2, Pearl Jam and Bob Dylan after the release of their sophomore album, Aha Shake Heartbreak, and continued to garner acclaim with Because of the Times, which debuted at No. 25 on the U.S. Billboard 200.

In 2008, the group released Only By The Night, the record that catapulted the band into the mainstream. The multi-platinum-selling album debuted in the Top 5 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, hit No. 1 in five countries, sold more than 6.5 million copies worldwide, and earned Kings of Leon four Grammy® Awards, including wins for their Modern Rock radio multi-week No. 1's "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody," The album's success also led to the band's gracing the covers of Spin and Rolling Stone, performances on Saturday Night Live, sold-out shows at New York City's Madison Square Garden, and headlining slots at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits festivals.

On the heels of their most successful album to date, Kings of Leon continued to follow their own muse and refused to play it safe in their latest album Come Around Sundown. Keeping with their grand and propulsive rock sound combined with intimate post-punk moods, the album upped the ante by connecting the dots between the blues, classic rock and gospel influences of the Followills' childhood to the alternative and indie rock of their adulthood.

Kings of Leon got their start in Nashville by playing open mic nights, songwriters' nights and booking gigs at local songwriter hot spots like the Bluebird Café. Members collaborated with other Nashville songwriters – most notably Angelo Petraglia - who helped them hone in on their unique rock & roll sound. While Kings of Leon continues to record and tour worldwide, each member calls Nashville home.

 


CLASS OF JUNE 2012

Bob Babbitt Steve Winwood

 

Bob BabbittBob Babbitt
A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bob Babbitt is an American bassist, most famous for his work as a member of Motown Records' studio band, the Funk Brothers, from 1966-1972. The group has received three Grammy® Awards and is considered one of the most successful groups of studio musicians in music history. They have played on hit songs like "My Girl", "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone", and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough."

Babbitt's notable bass artistry can also be heard on the Grammy®-nominated "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" by Stevie Wonder, Grammy®-nominated "Mercy Mercy Me" and "Inner City Blues" by Marvin Gaye, and the double-platinum, Grammy®-winning #1 hit "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight and the Pips.

Babbitt's bass lines have graced over 100 million recordings, including 200 Billboard Top 40 hits for Motown and other labels. His uncanny ability to shift from one recording hot spot to the next - from Detroit, Philadelphia, New York and Nashville - over the past four decades has transcended the supportive, background role of electric bassist to become an institution.

Babbitt has called Nashville home since the mid 80s. After coming to town to play on a record for Downs and Price, he fell in love with Music City and has spent the past 25 years here. While Babbitt is best known for the Motown sound he created with the Funk Brothers, he has also played for other genres including several country music sessions in Nashville. Babbitt continues to travel the world and has become an unofficial ambassador for the quality of studio musicians that live in Music City.

The Funk Brothers were inducted into the Nashville-based Musicians Hall of Fame in 2007 by fellow Music City Walk of Fame inductee Peter Frampton. Joe Chambers, president of the Musicians Hall of Fame and longtime fan and friend of Babbitt, stated "The records that Bob played on have not only become hit records; they have become their own genre. Much like the music of the A Team became known as the Nashville Sound, the music of the Funk Brothers became the sound of Motown. There are very few musicians whose music has impacted so many generations with no signs of slowing down. Bob Babbitt and the Funk Brothers have done just that."


Steve Winwood
Steve WinwoodFor more than four decades, Birmingham, England-native Steve Winwood has remained one of the primary figures in the rock 'n' roll genre. Beginning his music career at the age of fifteen with the Spencer Davis Group, Winwood later went on to perform with Traffic, guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker, prior to his solo career, which began in 1977. His unmistakable voice, which can be heard in his nine albums to date, has traces of English Folk, R&B, West African calypso and Delta Blues.

Winwood's career has earned him two Grammy® Awards for Record of the Year, Back in the High Life, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for his No. 1 single "Higher Love." Winwood is also known for classics such as "Keep On Running", "Gimme Some Lovin", "I'm A Man", "Can't Find My Way Home" and "Valerie".

Winwood has many Music City ties and is known for using his music to support the Nashville community. He and his wife Eugenia, a Trenton, Tenn.-native, have had an endowment scholarship at Belmont University since marrying in 1987. A part-time Music City resident since the late 80s, Winwood credited his move with rekindling interest in his own musical roots of 60s R&B, to which he paid homage in his 1988 record Roll With It. He recorded both Roll With It and the theme song from Steven Spielberg's "Balto" at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville.

Winwood served as the opening performer for the fourth annual Nashville Music Awards as well as the halftime performer for the inaugural Music City Bowl in 1998, which was nationally broadcast live on ESPN. Winwood was the recipient of the Nashville Symphony Ball Harmony Award as well as the BMI Icon Award. He will perform a benefit concert for Radnor Lake at Fontanel Mansion on Friday, May 18.

Winwood continues to perform throughout the world and record new music. In addition to his many achievements as a solo artist, Winwood remains in high demand for notable collaborations with other artists. His distinctive Hammond organ has graced such classic fare as fellow Music City Walk of Fame inductee Jimi's Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" as well as Miranda Lambert's recent chart hit "Baggage Claim".

 


CLASS OF NOVEMBER 2011

Manuel Dan Miller Dr. Bobby Jones Dottie Rambo Les Paul Alan Jackson Kix Brooks

 

ManuelManuel
Manuel is best known for creating celebrity personalities through fashion designs. Known as the "Rhinestone Rembrandt," Manuel is responsible for creating Johnny Cash's famous 'Man in Black' ensemble, Elvis' iconic gold lamé suit and the signature 'cowboy' look for all three Hank Williams, among many others. Country greats have worn Manuel's designs for years, including Little Jimmy Dickens and his close friend, Marty Stuart, who is noted to have more than 3,000 pieces of custom Country Cowboy Couture.

His artistic fashion creations stretch far beyond country music. Manuel has designed suits and clothing for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr., Marilyn Monroe, the infamous Rat Pack, Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger. Rock 'n' roll icon Bob Dylan turned to Manuel to create a special design when he was asked to perform for the Pope. Over the years, presidents, athletes, dancers, movie stars and artists have all donned his famous designs. He is even responsible for the notorious insignias of The Grateful Dead and The Rolling Stones.

Manuel moved to Nashville in 1989 to be closer to his many clients in the country music industry. Today, his shop Manuel's on Broadway serves as both a custom design studio for western couture garments and also an international tourist destination.


Dan MillerDan Miller
Dan Miller is one of the most revered broadcasters in Nashville's history.

In the 1980s, Miller hosted his own Sunday evening program, "Miller & Company," a magazine-style show featuring conversational interviews with celebrities and elite figures of the day. The program was the first in Nashville's history to bring musical artists into viewers' dens for in-depth and personal conversations. The enormously popular program drew the biggest names in the music industry, including Minnie Pearl, Tammy Wynette, Dick Clark, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Jerry Reed, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Oprah Winfrey, Willie Nelson, and Miller's childhood hero, Gene Autry.

The "Miller & Company" show's engaging style often lent guest stars to share more personal and in-depth information, adding to its unique appeal. Years later, some of the biggest stars in the business would remember that they never felt as 'at ease' as they were sitting and talking with Dan Miller in his restaurant booth studio set. "Miller & Company" was featured on WSMV Channel 4 in Nashville for seven years and was resurrected later in Miller's career on TNN (The Nashville Network) for three years.

Miller earned numerous awards throughout his broadcasting career, including multiple Emmy Awards. He was voted Best News Anchor in local Nashville publications more than 20 times and recognized as the Most Popular News Anchor in the United States in 1986.


Dr. Bobby JonesDr. Bobby Jones
Dr. Bobby Jones is one of the most notable figures in gospel music. He is a multiple award-winning gospel music singer and national television host, most recognized as the host and executive producer for the national cable program, "Bobby Jones Gospel."

Dr. Jones is credited with taking gospel music to the mainstream airwaves through his multiple cable and radio programs. "Bobby Jones Gospel" first aired on the cable channel BET in 1980, and today remains one of the network's most popular shows. The program features performances from all styles of gospel music and interviews with an array of gospel artists. Jones also created "Bobby Jones' World" and "Let's Talk Church," magazine-style shows that discussed and blended gospel music with world-renowned authors, entertainers and national leaders. He co-wrote and performed "Make a Joyful Noise," a black gospel opera which aired on PBS in 1980, for which he subsequently won the Gabriel Award and an International Film Festival Award.

Jones and his gospel performance group, New Life, have won Grammy and Dove Awards for their outstanding performances. In 1990, he received the GMA's Commonwealth Award for Outstanding Contribution to Gospel Music. Jones has received more than 2,000 honors and awards over the period of 31 years as a broadcaster and educator.

Jones received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Tennessee State University, and a Doctorate of Education from Vanderbilt University. He currently resides in Nashville.


Dottie RamboDottie Rambo
Dottie Rambo, known throughout the industry as the Queen of Gospel Music, is a world-renowned singer, songwriter and musician. Throughout her 60+ year career, Rambo wrote more than 2,500 songs, both for herself and for some of the music industry's most notable stars. Her legendary songs have been recorded by music icons such as Elvis Presley, Barbara Mandrell, Carol Channing, Whitney Houston and Dolly Parton.

Rambo's career began at the age of 8 when she started writing songs. At age 12, she had taught herself how to play guitar and was traveling to perform at churches, revivals and radio stations. Jimmie Davis, then Louisiana Governor and noted songwriter, gave Rambo her first real break in the 1960s by providing her first professional writing contract with his publishing company. From that point her career skyrocketed as a songwriter, soloist and leader of her family trio The Singing Rambos, later known as simply The Rambos, and brought her opportunities to work with industry greats such as Barbara Mandrell and Porter Wagoner. Some of her more noted works include "I Go To the Rock," "He Looked Beyond My Fault" and "I Will Glory In the Cross."

Her accolades include Grammy and Dove awards, the ASCAP Lifetime Achievement Award and being inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. She and The Rambos are also members of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

Rambo died in a tragic bus wreck in 2008 as she traveled between tour stops. Her legacy continues through her timeless songs and messages of hope and salvation.


Les PaulLes Paul
Les Paul will forever be synonymous with the electric guitar.

Paul was drawn to performing music at an early age, specifically interested in experimenting with sound-related inventions. He was drawn to explore and create a stringed instrument that could make electronic sound without distorting. The result was the creation of the Gibson Les Paul guitar, which went on to become one of the most popular of all electric guitar models, serving as a staple instrument for rock 'n' roll's guitar elite. Rock musicians associated with the Gibson Les Paul include Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Mike Bloomfield, Eddie Van Halen and Jimmy Page.

Paul is also credited with creating many innovative audio techniques including overdubbing, tape delay and multi-track recording, all of which aided in making the rock 'n' roll sound possible. In speaking of Paul and his mark on the rock music industry, Eddie Van Halen stated "without the things you've done, I wouldn't be able to do half the things I do."

Paul was a noted musician in his own right, recording two #1 hits with his wife, Mary Ford, in the early 1950s and recording a Grammy-winning album of instrumental duets with Chet Atkins, as Chester and Lester in the late 1970s. He won two additional Grammys at the age of 90 for his album American Made/World Played. Up until his death he continued to be one of the primary icons and spokespeople for Nashville-based Gibson Guitar.


Alan Jackson
Alan JacksonAlan Jackson is one of today's most prolific songwriters - his straightforward, honest and sincere lyrics reflect the essence of country music and speak to the common man. The Georgia native has written or co-written 24 of his 35 #1 singles, including "Remember When," "Where I Come From," "Chattahoochee" and "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)." His songs have also proven hits for other artists, including Randy Travis and Clay Walker. Jackson has been named Songwriter/Artist of the Year by NSAI and ASCAP numerous times and was inducted into the elite Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in October.

Jackson is one of the most honored country music singer-songwriters in the last 20 years. He is a Grand Ole Opry member and three-time Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year with a total of 16 CMA Awards, 17 ACM Awards and two Grammys to his credit. He has released 19 albums, topped the country charts 35 times and has scored more than 50 Top 10 hits while amassing more than 60 million records sold.

Jackson has called Nashville home for more than 25 years. He lives here with his wife, Denise and their three daughters, Mattie, Ali and Dani.


Kix BrooksKix Brooks
Kix Brooks has been performing and writing songs since the age of 12. In his early career, his songs were recorded by the likes of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John Conlee and Highway 101. In 1990, he teamed with Ronnie Dunn to create Brooks & Dunn, a career decision that changed the course of country music history.

Brooks & Dunn are the highest-selling duo in the history of country music, having sold more than 30 million records and enjoyed 23 #1 hits. They have won more than 80 major industry awards and currently hold the record for the number of awards won at both the ACM and the CMA Awards. Brooks & Dunn played their last concert as a duo in September 2010, but Brooks continues to work in the industry, serving as host of "American Country Countdown," an internationally-syndicated radio program.

Brooks is also an active civic leader in Nashville. He has served as both President and Chairman of the Country Music Association. He also served as a member of the Nashville Music Council, a select group of professionals including Mayor Karl Dean, chosen to bring the city of Nashville and the Music Industry closer together. Brooks is also on the board of Vanderbilt Children's Hospital and previously served on the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau Board. He is the local spokesperson for Monroe Harding Children's Home and is a founding partner of Arrington Vineyards in Arrington, TN.

 


CLASS OF OCTOBER 2011

Peter Frampton

 

Peter Frampton
Peter FramptonGrammy®-winning artist Peter Frampton is one of the most celebrated artists in rock history. He began his music career as a teenager in England, first as lead singer and guitarist for The Herd, and then with Humble Pie. Frampton has recorded 16 albums, with his most acclaimed being his multiplatinum-selling live album Frampton Comes Alive!, which is one of the topselling live records of all time. Frampton is currently on a world tour in recognition of the 35th anniversary of this famed recording, performing the album in its entirety along with other highlights from his Grammy®-winning career.

Frampton Comes Alive! is heralded by most rock enthusiasts, including Rolling Stone contributor Alan Light, as defining the decade of the 1970s. The legendary work is described as having 'cultural-event status,' with few musical works since having similar influence in the rock world. Frampton himself acknowledges the great impact of the album, describing it as him having 'managed to bottle lightning.'

Frampton has long been a friend to Music City, and having lived here for seven years, it feels like a second home. Many of his band members and crew currently live in Nashville as well, and Frampton continues to write, record and rehearse in the city regularly. He has appeared in promotional videos and advertising campaigns for Nashville and also served as the headlining performance for the Music City Jazz & Blues Festival in 2008. Frampton's Nashville show on his world tour, which is scheduled for the evening of this Walk of Fame Induction at the Ryman Auditorium, serves as a charity event benefiting Friends of Radnor Lake.

CLASS OF MAY 2011

Bill Anderson Keith Urban

 

Bill Anderson
Bill Anderson If you want someone's attention, whisper. Bill Anderson's been using that philosophy to capture the attention of millions of country music fans around the world for almost 50 years, en route to becoming one of the most popular, most enduring entertainers of our time.

He's known, in fact as "Whispering Bill," a nickname hung on him years ago as a result of his breathy voice and his warm, soft approach to singing. His credentials, however, shout his prominence: one of the most awarded songwriters in the history of country music, a million-selling recording artist many times over and a consummate onstage performer.

Born in South Carolina, Anderson worked his way through college as a radio disc jockey and began performing and writing songs at the same time. At the age of 19, he composed the country classic, "City Lights," and began rapidly carving his place in musical history.

He moved to Nashville and began turning out hit after hit with songs like "Po'Folks," "Mama Sang A Song," "The Tips Of My Fingers," "8X10," and the unforgettable smash, "Still." His compositions were recorded by such diverse musical talents as Porter Wagoner, James Brown, Kitty Wells, Lawrence Welk, Dean Martin, Jerry Lee Lewis and Aretha Franklin.

Anderson has been voted Songwriter of the Year six times, Male Vocalist of the Year, and half of Duet of the Year twice. He's hosted and starred in the Country Music Television Series of the Year, had his band voted Band of the Year, and in 1975 was voted membership in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2001, he received the ultimate honor, membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

He closed out the 20th century with a pair of No. 1 hits, "Wish You Were Here," by Mark Wills and the Grammy-nominated "Two Teardrops" by Steve Wariner. His song, "Too Country," recorded by Brad Paisley won CMA Vocal Event of the Year honors in 2001. The following year, Kenny Chesney soared with his version of the Anderson-Dean Dillon masterpiece, "A Lot of Things Different."

Anderson enjoyed perhaps the most fertile period of his songwriting life between November 2005 and December 2007. He won CMA Song of the Year honors for his and Jon Randall's "Whiskey Lullaby," recorded by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss, a Dove Award from the Gospel Music Association for co-writing the Country/Gospel Recorded Song of the Year, "Jonah, Job, and Moses," and his first ACM Song of the Year Award for "Give It Away," recorded by George Strait. "Give It Away" went on to win the CMA Song of the Year, as well as affording Anderson his fourth Grammy nomination.

In 2002, Broadcast Music, Inc. named Anderson its first country music songwriting Icon, placing him alongside R&B legends Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and James Brown as the only recipients of that prestigious award. And, in 2008, the Academy of Country Music honored him with their inaugural Poets Award.


Keith Urban
Keith UrbanIn 2001, the Country Music Association honored Keith Urban with its Horizon Award, designating him a talented artist with a bright future. He is the first Horizon Award winner in history to go on to win the CMA's Male Artist of the Year, a title he's captured three times, and the coveted Entertainer of the Year.

Nine years and more than 15 millions albums later, Keith is a four-time Grammy Award winner, who has also won a People's Choice and American Music Award. He's won five Academy of Country Music Awards, had 12 No. 1s, including 22 Top 5 hits and two consecutive No. 1 albums. His latest album, Get Closer, comes on the heels of his fifth consecutive platinum/multi-platinum release.

In 2009, Urban was named the year's most played country artist (at radio) thanks to No. 1 hits such as "Sweet Thing," "You'll Think of Me," "Only You Can Love Me This Way," "Better Life" and "Days Go By." In addition, his 2002 smash "Somebody Like You" was named the No. 1 Country Song of the Decade by Nielsen BDS (based on radio airplay and audience impressions).

But Urban's reputation as an elite songwriter, musician, vocalist and virtuoso guitarist is no more evident than when he is onstage. His electrifying concerts have played to sold-out venues from Australia to Germany to England to Canada and the United States and he's received high praise from critics. In fact, 2009's Escape Together World Tour, as well as 2007's Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy World Tour, were both, according to Pollstar, one of the top grossing tours for their respective years.

Urban will be back out on the road this summer with his Get Closer 2011 World Tour, which opens on June 16th.

 


CLASS OF NOVEMBER 2010

Eddy Arnold Little Jimmy Dickens Rascal Flatts Bobby Hebb Kris Kristofferson Mel Tillis

 

Eddy Arnold
Eddy Arnold Eddy Arnold, one of the greatest singers in both country and pop genres, was born May 15, 1918 in Chester County, Tennessee. On his eleventh birthday, his father died; later that year the farm the family lived on was auctioned off and the family became sharecroppers on the farm they once owned. Arnold went to school through the ninth grade, then landed a job with a funeral home while he sang on the local radio station. Soon, he moved to Memphis, then St. Louis where he appeared on radio for several years before landing a job with Pee Wee King and the Golden West Cowboys.

During World War II Arnold toured all over the United States with the Camel Caravan, appearing at Armed Forces bases. After the tour, he embarked on a solo career with the Grand Ole Opry, with the moniker, "The Tennessee Plowboy" and was signed to host the show sponsored by Purina on the NBC network. In December, 1944, Arnold, already a star on the Grand Ole Opry, made his first recordings for Victor Records at the WSM Studios - the first recording session by a major label in Nashville.

In 1945, he joined forces with Colonel Tom Parker, who was his manager for the next eight years. During that time, Arnold had a string of #1 hits, and in 1947-1948, he had the #1 song on the country charts for 60 consecutive weeks. In fact, in 1948 he outsold the entire pop division of RCA Victor which helped persuade RCA Victor as well as other notable record companies to eventually invest in building and operating recording facilities in Nashville.

Despite his roots as a sharecropper, Arnold never employed the traditional "nasal" twang long associated with country artist of his time. His musical influences included Bing Crosby and Gene Autry, therefore Arnold's smooth baritone lent itself more to crooning which helped him cross over into the pop genre and gain favor with non-country audiences. That smooth style has never been paralleled in country music ever since.

During the 1950s Eddy Arnold became the first country artist to host a network prime time television show when he became the summer replacement for "The Perry Como Show." He also hosted a national network radio show, "The Checkerboard Jamboree" for CBS and starred in two movies for Columbia Pictures, "Feudin' Rhythm" and "Hoedown". Arnold became a major concert draw outside of the south during the late 1940s, and in 1952 "The Eddy Arnold Show" aired as a summer replacement show for Dinah Shore's variety show on CBS. His theme song was "Cattle Call," and he recorded it four different times. The 1955 version with the Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra was a number one record. Also, in 1955 he recorded the song "You Don't Know Me", a song he co-wrote with legendary songwriter, Cindy Walker. That song was made a standard by Ray Charles and has been covered by artists as diverse as Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. Most recently it was recorded by Michael Buble and Willie Nelson.

Despite a career downturn in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Eddy reemerged as a leading figure in the famed "Nashville Sound" movement which brought a more refined touch to country music and expanded its audience therefore giving it more mainstream appeal. In 1965, he scored his biggest hit of all, "Make The World Go Away", a record that is now in the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1966 he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and in 1967 he became the first person to win the Entertainer of the Year honor from the Country Music Association.

Eddy Arnold sold over 85 million records and is the only country artist to have charted records in seven different decades, one of which was a duet version of "Cattle Call" with LeAnn Rimes from her "Blue" album that was released by Curb Records in 1996. In 2000, he received the National Medal of the Arts from President Bill Clinton and was awarded a "Lifetime Achievement Grammy" in 2005. Eddy Arnold died on May 8th, 2008, thus silencing an unmistakable voice that inspired generations of singers and millions of fans alike. Following his death in May 2008, RCA Records released the single "To Life", a song from the album "After All These Years" and it debuted at No. 49 on the Hot Country Songs charts, which was his first entry into that particular chart in 25 years. Because of this feat, he also became the oldest artist to chart Billboard and it also set the record for the longest span between an artist's first chart single and the last: 62 years and 11 months ("Each Minute Seems Like a Million Years" debuted on June 30, 1945), and extended Arnold's career chart history to seven decades.


Little Jimmy Dickens
Little Jimmy Dickens Born in Bolt, West Virginia, Dickens began his musical career in the late 1930s, performing on a local radio station while attending West Virginia University. He soon quit school to pursue a full-time music career, and traveled the country performing on various local radio stations under the name "Jimmy the Kid."

In 1948, Dickens was heard performing on a radio station in Saginaw, Michigan by Roy Acuff, who introduced him to Art Satherly at Columbia Records and officials from the Grand Ole Opry. Dickens signed with Columbia in September and joined the Opry in August. Around this time he began using the nickname, Little Jimmy Dickens, inspired by his short stature.

Dickens recorded many novelty songs for Columbia, including "Country Boy," "A-Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed" and "I'm Little But I'm Loud." His song "Take an Old Cold Tater (And Wait)" inspired Hank Williams to nickname him "Tater". Later, telling Jimmy he needed a hit, Williams penned "Hey Good Lookin'" specifically for Dickens in only 20 minutes while on a Grand Ole Opry tour bus. A week later Williams cut the song himself, jokingly telling him, "That song's too good for you!"

In 1950, Dickens formed the Country Boys with musicians Jabbo Arrington, Grady Martin, Bob Moore and Thumbs Carllile. It was during this time that he discovered future Hall of Famer Marty Robbins at a television station while on tour with the Grand Ole Opry road show. In 1957, Dickens left the Grand Ole Opry to tour with the Philip Morris Country Music Show.

In 1962, Dickens released "The Violet and the Rose," his first top 10 single in 12 years. Two years later he became the first country artist to circle the globe while on tour. He also made numerous TV appearances including The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. In 1965, he released his biggest hit, "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose," reaching number one on the country chart and number 15 on the pop chart.

In the late 1960s, he left Columbia for Decca Records, before moving again to United Artists in 1971. That same year he married his wife, Mona. He returned to the Grand Ole Opry in 1975, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame a few years later.

He joined producers Randall Franks and Alan Autry for the In the Heat of the Night cast CD "Christmas Time's A Comin'" performing "Jingle Bells" with the cast on the CD released on Sonlite and MGM/UA for one of the most popular Christmas releases of 1991 and 1992 with Southern retailers.

Recently, Dickens has made appearances in a number of music videos by fellow country musician and West Virginia native Brad Paisley. He has also been featured on several of Paisley's albums in bonus comedy tracks along with other Opry mainstays such as George Jones and Bill Anderson. They are collectively referred to as the Kung-Pao Buckaroos.

With the passing of Hank Locklin in March 2009, Dickens is now the oldest living member of the Grand Ole Opry at the age of 89. He still makes regular appearances as a host at the Opry.


Rascal Flatts
Rascal Flatts In just 10 years, Rascal Flatts has become one of the most honored acts in country music history, reaching heights and achieving milestones reserved for the genre's elite. They have set more venue attendance records than any country act en route to ticket sales of six million and counting. They have sold 20 million albums and earned 11 #1 singles. All six of their albums are platinum or multi-platinum and every one is among Billboard's Top 100 Albums of the Decade. They have won more than three dozen awards from the ACM, CMA, AMA and People's Choice, among others, and they have received that ultimate honor for those who have impacted the culture - a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Behind those statistics is an accomplishment more basic than numbers, more important than any trophy - for the past decade, the music of Rascal Flatts has been the soundtrack to countless lives. Songs like "These Days," "Mayberry," "What Hurts The Most," "My Wish," "Stand," "Here," "Here Comes Goodbye" and "Summer Nights" have soothed and uplifted, fired up, mellowed out and otherwise impacted millions.

Their place in country music history may be assured, but Gary, Jay and Joe Don retain a newcomer's passion about capturing magic with each new project. Now, with the release of their latest, Nothing Like This, they have done it once again, taking their career and their legacy another long step forward. The album is a microcosm of all the things the band does well which is to say it touches on many of the best aspects of 21st-century country music. It is first and foremost uplifting, with songs like "Why Wait" and "Play" kicking off the proceedings with the call to enjoy life no matter what our circumstances. It features both the throwback groove of "They Try" and the fresh sparkle of "All Night To Get There." "Summer Young" is an uptempo celebration of the season of warmth and romance and "I Won't Let Go" is "You've Got A Friend" for the new millennium, a song steeped in the strength of love and friendship in times of trouble. The title cut finds a way to bring freshness to the subject of love and sees Gary bringing a disarming desperation to his vocal. Evident throughout is the group's ability to recognize the best in Nashville songwriting.

The fact that they were able to do so reflects the magic they have always found in their approach to music and the respect with which they view their mission and each other. Their sound took root in the late 1990s, when Jay and Joe Don were band mates working with Chely Wright and Jay and Gary were playing a separate gig in downtown Nashville. When their guitar player was unable to make it one night, Jay asked Joe Don to sit in. The three honed their sound with club work, cut some demos and by year's end had been signed to Lyric Street Records, where they flourished and took off on that magical decade of hits and sold-out shows.

Along the way, their "Bless The Broken Road" was Grammy nominated for Country Song of the Year and Vocal Performance, they became 2006's top-selling physical and digital artist in all genres, scored four #1 country albums and three #1's overall, and hit the Top 10 Billboard pop singles chart twice, among many other milestones. When Lyric Street closed its doors, they chose Big Machine as their new label home.

Committed to giving back, they are known for their charitable work, which includes raising three million dollars for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville.

Never content to rest on their laurels, they are eagerly looking forward.


Bobby HebbBobby Hebb
Bobby Hebb made his stage debut on his third birthday, when tap dancer Hal Hebb introduced his little brother to show business at The Bijou Theater. This was an appearance on The Jerry Jackson Revue of 1942. Harold Hebb was nine years of age at the time and the young brothers worked quite a few nightclubs before Bobby entered first grade.

Nashville establishments like The Hollywood Palm, Eva Thompson Jones Dance Studio, The Paradise Club, and the basement bar in Prentice Alley, as well as the aforementioned Bijou Theater, found Bobby and Hal dancing and singing. Hebb's father, William, played trombone and guitar, his mother, Ovalla, played piano and guitar, while his grandfather was a chef/cook on the Dixie Flyer, an express train on the L&N -- Louisville & Nashville railroad.

Bobby, with so much musical influence and inspiration, would go on to pen hundreds upon hundreds of tunes, among them, BMI's number 25 most played song on their website in 2000, the classic "Sunny." Georgie Fame and Cher, charted with the title in England, but it was Hebb's original which reached the highest on charts in Europe and America. Covers by Frank Sinatra with Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Frankie Valli, Nancy Wilson, the Four Tops, Wilson Pickett, Dusty Springfield, and so many others, insured the song would reach audiences outside of those who heard and continue to hear it on Top 40 and "oldies" stations. The song reached beyond Top 40, climbing the country and R&B charts as well. Kal Rudman calls this a rare industry "hat trick" in the liner notes on the 1966 Phillips' album, but what no one could predict is how the song would find versions by Boney M. and Yambu bringing it to dance clubs, while jazz musicians explored the nuances of this amazing composition in their world.

Bobby Hebb's influence reaches far beyond "Sunny." When he joined Roy Acuff's Smokey Mountain Boys around 1952, he was one of the first African American artists to perform on The Grand Ole Opry.

Around 1958 Bobby Hebb tracked "Night Train to Memphis," a song written by Owen Bradley for Roy Acuff's Smokey Mountain Boys. The tune was re-released in 1998 on a Warner Bros. box set, From Where I Stand, which also included "A Satisfied Mind" from the 1966 Sunny album.

Hebb was represented by Buster Newman and his partner, Lloyd Greenfield, who managed Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck. Bobby Hebb headlined a 1966 tour with the Beatles. After this, Hebb met comedian/composer Sandy Baron and the two got busy writing a Broadway show that never made it to Broadway. However, two of the songs -- "A Natural Man" and a tune they were writing about Marvin Gaye, "His Song Shall Be Sung" -- were picked up by Lou Rawls and released on MGM.

After a recording gap of thirty five years, Hebb recorded That's All I Wanna Know, his first commercial release since Love Games for Epic Records in 1970. It was released in Europe in late 2005 by Tuition, a pop indie label. New versions of "Sunny" were also issued. In October 2008, Hebb toured and played in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan.

Hebb continued to live in his hometown of Nashville until his death in August.


Kris Kristofferson
Kris Kristofferson A member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Kris Kristofferson helped rejuvenate Nashville's creative community in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the classics "Help Me Make It Through the Night," "Me and Bobby McGee," "For the Good Times" and "Lovin' Her Was Easier." Hundreds of recording artists have performed his songs. As a concert performer, Kristofferson toured for many years, releasing numerous albums with his long-standing backup band, the Borderlords.

Kristofferson began his music career in the mid-60s when he ended scholarly pursuits in favor of songwriting. The son of an Air Force general, he was a Rhodes scholar, a helicopter pilot and might have been an English Lit professor at West Point, but he gave it all up for a shot at selling some of his songs. Encouraged by a meeting with Johnny Cash, he moved to Nashville in 1965. He pitched songs while working as a night janitor at Columbia studios, emptying ashtrays and pushing a broom.

His turning point came in 1969. Nashville was still the bastion of conservative country music, but a new generation of renegade writers and performers were bucking the establishment. Cash gave him his break by recording "Sunday Morning Coming Down," which won the Country Music Association's song of the year trophy in 1970. Roger Miller sang "Me and Bobby McGee," and Ray Price recorded "For the Good Times," which won song of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards in 1970.

He made his recording debut at the same time Janis Joplin's version of "Me and Bobby McGee" went to No. 1. Sammi Smith reached the national Top 10 with "Help Me Make It Through the Night," which won the CMA's single of the year and a Grammy for best country song in 1971. Five subsequent albums, including The Silver-Tongued Devil and I and Jesus Was a Capricorn (which included the hit "Why Me"), went gold. His recordings with then-wife Rita Coolidge won the pair two Grammy awards. In 1973, "From the Bottle to the Bottom" was named best country vocal performance by a duo or group, and "Love Please" garnered the same award in 1975.

He started a movie career in 1971 when he co-starred with Gene Hackman and Harry Dean Stanton in Cisco Pike. He became an instant box-office draw, starring opposite such stars as Jane Fonda, Ellen Burstyn and Burt Reynolds. He also starred with Barbra Streisand in the classic film A Star Is Born in 1976. While making approximately two films a year, he continued to tour and record.

In the mid-80s, he joined Cash, Nelson and Waylon Jennings to form the Highwaymen. The supergroup's single, "Highwayman," was named the ACM's single of the year for 1985. His 1990 solo album, Third World Warrior, demonstrated his concern for human freedoms. In 1999, he re-recorded some of his best-known tunes for The Austin Sessions, released on Atlantic Records. He teamed with Nelson, Jennings and Texas songwriter Billy Joe Shaver for Honky Tonk Heroes in 2000.

In the last decade, Kristofferson, who is signed with New West Records, has released two studio albums titled This Old Road and Closer To The Bone. This Old Road - Kristofferson's first recording in almost a dozen years - was hailed by critics as "one of the finest albums of his storied career" (Rolling Stone), "a stripped-down stunner" (Esquire), and "a return to his best work" (Q). Kristofferson also continues a vigorous schedule of national and international solo appearances, and he is currently filming a movie called A Dolphin Tale. The Americana Music Association presented him its 2003 Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award. In 2004, Kristofferson entered the Country Music Hall of Fame.


Mel TillisMel Tillis
Country music legend, Mel Tillis learned to play the guitar as a child, and in high school studied both the violin and the drums. Following high school, he entered the military and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan as a baker in the United States Air Force. During his time in the military, Tillis formed a band called The Westerners which played local clubs.

After leaving the military, Tillis moved to Nashville in 1956 to launch his musical career. In 1957, Webb Pierce took one of Tillis' songs titled "I'm Tired" to number three on the charts. Tillis cut his first single that same year, a cover of "It Takes a Worried Man to Sing a Worried Song." His first Top 40 hit came the following year with "The Violet and a Rose."

Tillis continued to chart singles like 1959's "Finally" and a pair of duets with Bill Phillips, "Sawmill" and "Georgia Town Blues," while also supplying Webb Pierce with hit after hit, including the 1959 smashes "I Ain't Never" and "No Love Have I" along with 1962's "Crazy Wild Desire" and 1963's "Sawmill." Bobby Bare, Ray Price, Stonewall Jackson, and Little Jimmy Dickens also covered Tillis' songs.

In 1965, Tillis recorded his first Top 15 hit, "Wine." A string of successes followed, including 1966's "Stateside," "Life Turned Her That Way," and his first Top Ten, 1968's "Who's Julie." At the same time, his stature as a songwriter continued to grow thanks to hit covers of his "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" by both Johnny Darrell and Kenny Rogers & the First Edition and "Mental Revenge" Waylon Jennings. After two 1969 Top Ten hits, "These Lonely Hands of Mine" and "She'll Be Hanging Around Somewhere," Tillis scored back-to-back Top Five hits in 1970 with "Heart Over Mind" and "Heaven Everyday." In 1971, he began a successful string of duets with Sherry Bryce which included "Take My Hand" and "Living and Learning."

"I Ain't Never" became his first chart-topper in 1972. What followed was a series of Top Five smashes like "Neon Rose," "Sawmill," "Midnight, Me and the Blues," "Stomp Them Grapes," and "Memory Maker." Between 1976 and 1980, he scored five more number ones -- "Good Woman Blues," "Heart Healer," "I Believe in You," "Coca Cola Cowboy," and "Southern Rains."

In all, Mel Tillis has written well over 1,000 songs, with approximately 600 recorded by major artists. He has recorded more than 60 albums, including 36 Top Ten singles, with nine of them going to #1.

Mel has appeared in numerous feature films including "Every Which Way But Loose" with Clint Eastwood, "W.W. & The Dixie Dancekings" with Burt Reynolds and Jerry Reed, "Cannonball Run I and II," "Smokey and the Bandit II" with Burt Reynolds, and the lead role with Roy Clark in "Uphill All The Way." His most recent role was that of a plumber in Toby Keith's 2008 movie "Beer For My Horses."

In 1976, Tillis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters International Hall of Fame, and that same year, he was named Country Music Association's (CMA) Entertainer of the Year. Also, for six years in the 70's, Mel Tillis won Comedian of the Year.

Mel Tillis became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in June 2007, and on October 28, 2007, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame

Mel Tillis has been in the music/entertainment business now for more than 50 years. He and his band, the Statesiders, have worked concerts all around the world, and continue to do so.

 


CLASS OF NOVEMBER 2009

Kid Rock Ernest Tubb Tootsie Bess Charlie Daniels Dolly Parton

 

Kid Rock
Kid Rock Born Robert James Ritchie on January 17, 1971, in Romeo, Mich., Kid Rock immersed himself in rap music and began making the talent-show rounds in Detroit.

Moving to Brooklyn, Rock hooked up with the small Continuum label, and moved further into hard rock with 1993's The Polyfuze Method. The EP Fire It Up followed in 1994, appearing on Rock's own Top Dog imprint. He returned to Detroit and began work on another album, Early Mornin' Stoned Pimp, released in 1996. He formed a full-fledged backing band, which he dubbed Twisted Brown Trucker.

As rap-metal acts like Korn, Limp Bizkit and Rage Against the Machine began to dominate the hard rock landscape, Atlantic Records decided to take a chance on Rock. He shot to superstardom with his fourth album, 1998's Devil Without a Cause. The album didn't do much upon its initial release in August 1998, but a promotional push from the label and MTV helped make the second single and video, "Bawitdaba," a nationwide smash. The follow-up, "Cowboy," achieved similar success.

After a decade of trying, Kid Rock was a superstar with a Top 5, seven-times-platinum album and a gig at Woodstock '99. Rock acquired the rights to his indie label recordings and remixed or re-recorded the best material for The History of Rock, released in 2000.

By the winter of 2001, he had completed work on Cocky and had released "Forever" to success on rock radio. In fall 2003, Kid Rock returned with a self-titled effort. A cover of Bad Company's "Feel Like Makin' Love" marked the first single. The cover art to his 2006 live album, Live Trucker, paid tribute to Bob Seger's Live Bullet. Just a year later his studio record Rock N Roll Jesus was released.


Ernest Tubb
Ernest Tubb The youngest of five children, Tubb was born in Ellis County, Tex., in 1914. By his late teens he had picked up the guitar on the advice of fellow guitarist Merwyn Buffington. Following the death of country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers in 1933, Tubb decided that he wanted to pursue a musical career. He hooked up with Buffington and soon Ernest had his own regular early-morning radio show.

Decca Records agreed to record him in April of 1940 and one of the resulting singles was "Blue Eyed Elaine." In 1941, he cut several new songs with Fay "Smitty" Smith, a staff electric guitarist for KGKO radio. The first single was "Walking the Floor Over You." The song became a massive hit, eventually selling over a million copies, and is considered by many to be the first honky tonk song, launching not only Tubb's career but also the musical genre itself.

Upon his arrival in Nashville in January of 1943, he joined the Grand Ole Opry and became the first musician to use an electric guitar in the Opry.

Early in 1947, he opened the Ernest Tubb Record Shop in Nashville, which he promoted through the Midnight Jamboree, a live program he created to fill the post-Opry slot on WSM. Still broadcast weekly, it follows the Opry as the second-longest running program in broadcast history. Tubb became the first country star to play Carnegie Hall in New York.

During 1949, Tubb charted an astonishing 13 hit singles, most of which have become classics - "Have You Ever Been Lonely? (Have You Ever Been Blue)," "Let's Say Goodbye Like We Said Hello" and "Blue Christmas." The following year, he had 11 hit singles, including "I Love You Because," plus several hit duets with Red Foley, including the No. 1 hit "Goodnight Irene."

In 1964, he recorded a series of duets with Loretta Lynn, and over the next five years he made three albums and had four hit singles.

Tubb became the sixth member to be inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1965, and was one of the first artists inducted to the Nashville Songwriters International Hall of Fame.

He was diagnosed with emphysema but continued to tour and record. Tubb died on September 6, 1984, leaving behind an enormous legacy that helped shape the face of contemporary country music. Ernest Tubb is country music personified.


Tootsie Bess
Tootsie Bess Born in 1914 in Hohenwald, Tenn., Hattie Louise "Tootsie" Bess was a well-known and loved member of Nashville's music scene. In 1960, she purchased a bar called Mom's on Lower Broadway which backed up to the legendary Ryman Auditorium. Opry annoncer Grant Turner said, "You could leave Tootsie's at 7:58 and still be on stage at the Opry at 8 o'clock." Many Opry performers did just that.

Without her, musicians and performers like Tom T. Hall, Kris Kristofferson, Roger Miller, Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings or Hank Williams may not have reached the heights of stardom that they did. Willie Nelson got his first songwriting job after singing at Tootsie's.

Tootsie would hire down-on-their-luck writers and pickers, feeding them while they worked and often slipping $5 and $10 bills in their pockets. She kept a cigar box full of IOUs under the counter and it's said that at the end of every year, grateful Opry performers would band together to pay off those IOUs so she could afford to stay in business. Charley Pride gave her the jeweled hatpin that she used to stick unruly patrons.

A singer/comedienne herself, Tootsie performed with "Big Jeff & The Radio Playboys" led by her husband Jeff Bess. She recorded "My Little Red Wagon" and "Tootsie's Wall of Fame." "She ran a beer joint," said Tom T. Hall, "but to young songwriters and musicians, she was a small finance company, a booking agent and a counselor." Maybe Ernest Tubb put it even better: "Tootsie was the softest touch in town."

Tootsie Bess died of cancer Feb. 18, 1978. Her funeral was attended by loyal customers from mechanics to country music legends.


Charlie DanielsCharlie Daniels
Born in Wilmington, N.C., in 1936, Charlie Daniels was raised on a musical diet that included Pentecostal gospel, local bluegrass bands, rhythm & blues and country music. He graduated from high school in 1955 and joined the rock n' roll revolution ignited by Elvis Presley. Already skilled on guitar, fiddle and mandolin, Daniels formed a rock n' roll band and hit the road.

The band recorded "Jaguar," an instrumental produced by Bob Johnston, which was picked up for national distribution by Epic Records. It was the beginning of a long association with Johnston. The two wrote "It Hurts Me," which became the B side of a 1964 Presley hit. In 1969, at the urging of Johnston, Daniels moved to Nashville to find work as a session guitarist. Among his more notable sessions were the Bob Dylan albums of 1969-70, Nashville Skyline, New Morning, and Self Portrait; the Youngbloods albums of 1969-70, Elephant Mountain and Ride the Wind; and records with Al Kooper and Marty Robbins.

Daniels broke through as a record maker himself with 1973's Honey in the Rock and its hit hippie song "Uneasy Rider." His rebel anthems "Long Haired Country Boy" and "The South's Gonna Do It" propelled his 1975 collection Fire On the Mountain to double platinum status.

Following stints with Capitol and Kama Sutra, Epic signed him to its rock roster in 1976. The contract was the largest ever given to a Nashville act up to that time. In the summer of 1979, Daniels rewarded the company's faith by delivering "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," which became a platinum single, topped both country and pop charts, won a Grammy Award, earned three CMA trophies, became a cornerstone of the Urban Cowboy movie soundtrack and propelled Daniels' Million Mile Reflections album to triple platinum sales levels. By 1981, the Charlie Daniels Band had twice been voted the Academy of Country Music's Touring Band of the Year.

Daniels' annual Volunteer Jam concerts featured a variety of current stars and heritage artists and are considered by historians as his most impressive contribution to Southern music. Artists featured at the mega-musical samplers included Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, James Brown, Willie Nelson, the Allman Brothers, Billy Joel, the Marshall Tucker Band, Little Richard, B. B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

In April 1998, top stars and two former U.S. presidents paid tribute to Daniels when he received the Pioneer Award at the ACM's annual nationally-televised ceremonies. In January 2008, Daniels was inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

His music spans 50 years of recording and represents more than $20 million in sales.


Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton Dolly Parton is the most honored female country performer of all time. She has had 25 songs reach No. 1 on the Billboard Country charts, a record for a female artist, and has 41 Top 10 country albums. All-inclusive sales of singles, albums, hit collections, paid digital downloads and compilation usage during her career has topped a staggering 100 million records worldwide.

An internationally-renowned superstar, the iconic and irrepressible Parton has contributed countless treasures to the world of music entertainment, penning classic songs such as "Jolene," "Coat of Many Colors," and her mega-hit "I Will Always Love You."

With 1977's crossover hit "Here You Come Again," she successfully erased the line between country and pop music without noticeably altering either her music or her image.

Making her film debut in the 1980 hit comedy 9 to 5, Dolly earned rave reviews for her performance and an Oscar nomination for writing the title tune, along with her second and third Grammy Awards. Roles in Steel Magnolias, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and Rhinestone followed along with television series, specials and movies. In 2006, Dolly earned her second Oscar nomination for "Travelin Thru," which she wrote for the film Transamerica.

Born on a farm in Sevier County, Tenn., Dolly is the fourth of 12 children. Her parents, Robert Lee and Avie Lee Parton struggled to make ends meet in the impoverished East Tennessee hills. This hard rural life was the foundation of Dolly's career. According to her father, she began singing almost before she could talk and by age 10 was performing on TV and radio shows in nearby Knoxville. The day after high school graduation, she moved to Nashville.

In 1967, her career took off when country music star Porter Wagoner began featuring her on his syndicated television show, exposing Dolly to over 45 million people in more than 100 markets and attracting the attention of record executives at RCA. Dolly and Porter had 14 Top 10 hits. She was voted the CMA Female Artist of the Year two years in a row, and in 1978 she was named the CMA Entertainer of the Year.

Dolly saw a dream become reality in 1986 with the opening of her own theme park at the base of the Great Smoky Mountains in Pigeon Forge. In 1988, she founded Dixie Stampede and in 2001 she built Dollywood's Splash Country. Dolly's entertainment businesses draw 4.5 million visitors annually and employ more than 3,000 people. The state's No. 1 attraction, Dollywood was selected by the theme park industry as one of the top three theme parks in the world in 2006.

In 1988, she began the Dollywood Foundation which funds the Dolly Parton Imagination Library across America and in Canada. The Library gives every preschool child a book each month from the time the child is born until he or she reaches kindergarten. The Library has given away 6.1 million books in 2009 and 23 million books since its inception.

Long respected for her business savvy, Dolly established Velvet Apple Music (BMI) and owns her own successful record label, Dolly Records. She transitioned her flair for making hit music into producing hit movies and television shows when she established Sandollar Productions with former manager, Sandy Gallin. Sandollar has produced feature films such as Father of the Bride and the Academy Award-winning Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt along with such television shows as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

She has garnered seven Grammy Awards, 10 CMA Awards, five ACM Awards, three American Music Awards and is one of only five female artists to win the CMA Entertainer of the Year award. Always dreaming and always looking forward, Dolly is busier than ever. A Broadway musical of her life story is in the works, and she is working on various children's projects. The phenomenon of Dolly Parton continues to flourish, as she remains one of the world's true superstars.


 


CLASS OF APRIL 2009

Dr. R.H. Boyd Cowboy Jack Clement Mike Curb CeCe Winans Josh Turner Marty Stuart

 

Dr. R.H. Boyd
R.H. Boyd Dr. Richard Henry Boyd (1843-1922), a former slave, founded the National Baptist Publishing Board (NBPB; 1896-Present) in Nashville, Tennessee. One of the chief accomplishments of this Renaissance man was his effort to preserve the music of former slaves and their descendants. Boyd sought to develop church materials that allowed Negroes to tailor the church services to their understanding and culture. In addition, he was a leader in the collection, production, and preservation of African-American church music.

Boyd began publishing hymns, tunes, and song books as early as the NBPB's first full production year, 1897. The NBPB developed the National Baptist Hymnal (1903) and sold thousands of copies to the churches by 1905. The NBPB also published Golden Gems: A Song Book for the Church Choir, the Pew, and Sunday School (1901). Boyd and the NBPB developed Christian music, including Hail the Baptist Congress (1912), for the annual National Baptist Sunday School Congress and trained the Boy and Girl Cadet units to march into the Congress hall singing that song and chanting Bible verses. Boyd also created the National Church Supply Company, which sold, among other items, church organs to the churches. The NBPB's newspaper, The National Baptist Union Review, advertised such church items and printed sermons and songs.

By 1921, under the leadership of Richard Henry Boyd, the NBPB had more than twenty-five songbooks—including The National Baptist Hymnal, old meter songs, old plantation jubilee and folk songs from slavery days, and contemporary music. The NBPB became the first company to set the old slave melodies to music, and Boyd asked the church pastors to advertise the books among the members and the choir directors. The year before Boyd's death, the NBPB produced 7,526,522 pieces of literature including music. Boyd was also responsible for starting the National Baptist Choir and the National Baptist Marching Brass Band, which graced the annual ("Marching for Jesus") parades that preceded the annual National Baptist Sunday School Congress that was held in a different city of the United States every June. Boyd's influence in Christian music continues through his great-grandson, Dr. T. B. Boyd III, who published The New National Baptist Hymnal (1977) and The New National Baptist Hymnal 21st Century Edition (2001), both of which continue to be among the best-selling hymnals in the nation.

In 2000, the NBPB was renamed the R.H. Boyd Publishing Corporation in honor of its founder Richard Henry Boyd. After four generations, Dr. R.H. Boyd's legacy continues to influence Christian music across the world.

Sources: A Black Man's Dream: The First Hundred Years, The Story of R. H. Boyd (1996); How It Came to Be: The Boyd Family' Contribution to African American Religious Publishing from the 19th to the 21st Century (2007).


Cowboy Jack Clement
Cowboy Jack Clement During a career of treading thin lines between folk singers, polka bands, outlaw songwriters, and the commercial music industry, Cowboy Jack Clement was the visionary maverick that combined song publishing, music and film production, a record company and recording studios decades before it became an industry trend. He has scored major musical success as a songwriter, producer, recording studio pioneer, publisher, artist and executive.

Born April 5, 1931, in Whitehaven, Tenn., Clement enlisted in the Marines as a teenager. After four years of service to his country, he toured in a bluegrass band, then returned to Memphis in 1954. He found work at Sun Records and worked at the mixing board for recording sessions with Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Charlie Rich and Jerry Lee Lewis. Another Sun artist, Elvis Presley, even opened for Clement at the Memphis club The Eagle's Nest. In those years, he wrote two of Cash's most enduring songs, "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" and "Guess Things Happen That Way."

After leaving Sun Records, Clement moved to Nashville to work for Chet Atkins, then while in Texas, he met George Jones and convinced him to cut the song, "She Thinks I Still Care." In 1965, Clement returned to Nashville and financed a demo by then-unknown Charley Pride and persuaded Atkins to sign him to RCA. Clement also wrote Pride's first two hits, "Just Between You and Me" and "I Know One," and produced Pride's first 13 albums for the label.

Clement launched the solo career of Don Williams through his JMI record label, a project that also introduced Allen Reynolds as a record producer. Reynolds later produced Garth Brooks, Crystal Gayle, Emmylou Harris, Bobby Bare and Kathy Mattea. In addition, Clement was Townes Van Zandt's first publisher, and Bob McDill also wrote for Clement's publishing company. Clement released his own album, All I Want to Do in Life in 1978.

Beyond country music, Clement produced three tracks for U2's Rattle and Hum sessions in Memphis and also produced an album for Louis Armstrong. In other ventures, he built four of Nashville's leading studios, produced a cult classic horror film and made perhaps the world's first music video on Don Williams in 1972, nine years before MTV launched. Clement now operates out of his spacious Nashville home -- with a fully equipped studio upstairs, a pool in the side yard, hammock out back and all the rooms wired for filming.


Mike Curb
Mike Curb Mike Curb, California's former lieutenant governor and acting governor, is one of the most prominent figures in the entertainment world and presides over his own independent record label, one of the largest in the nation, that has launched the careers of numerous stars. During a distinguished career spanning more than 45 years, Curb has earned multi-faceted success as a songwriter, producer and record company owner, covering a wide range of musical styles.

As an individual, he has written more than 400 songs, and received countless music industry awards, including the prestigious Overall Producer of the Year Award from Billboard magazine in 1972. Curb's songwriting credits include songs for Roy Orbison, Sammy Davis Jr., Hank Williams Jr., The Osmond Brothers, Donny & Marie Osmond, Freddie Jackson, Andy Williams and Eddy Arnold among others.

Some of Curb's early success also came in composing and producing songs and soundtracks for movies, including the 1966 hit "Wild Angels" staring Peter Fonda and Nancy Sinatra, the music for the 1967 Billy Jack movie "The Born Losers," and "Burning Bridges," the theme for the 1970 Clint Eastwood movie "Kelly's Heroes." In all, Curb has composed or supervised music for more than 50 motion picture soundtracks.

As the founder and Chairman of Curb Records, Curb's company has produced more than 300 No. 1 records and been honored by Billboard magazine as 2001 Country Music Label of the Year and Radio & Records magazine as 2005 Overall Gold Label of the Year.

In the 1960s, Curb's record label became an important part of the rock 'n' roll music scene. In 1969, Curb merged his company with MGM Records and became president of the MGM Co.

He boosted MGM's standing, and when MGM was sold in 1974, Curb went on to build Curb Records and the Curb/Warner label, which released numerous top-selling singles. Within a short time, the company had five No. 1 records on the Billboard Chart.

After a successful stint in government, Curb returned to records and his label's success has continued. In 1997, Curb Records was Billboard's No. 1 country label in four major categories for albums and singles, and the No. 1 country label, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Curb serves as chairman of the Mike Curb Family Foundation which supports music education and works to restore historic music industry locations, in addition to supporting many Nashville community projects. He is also chairman of gospel music powerhouse Word Entertainment, which was Billboard magazine's Overall Top Imprint in that genre for 2006.

In 2007, Curb was honored as Nashvillian of the Year for his continued work to benefit the city, including establishing The Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, the largest college at Belmont University. Curb also has endowed the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, and serves on the governing board of Nashville's Fisk University. Curb was recently honored by Belmont University as Trustee Emeritus and Belmont's Curb Event Center recently hosted the historic Presidential Debate between John McCain and Barack Obama.


CeCe WinansCeCe Winans
A seven-time Grammy Award winner, CeCe Winans has been blessed with one of the music industry's greatest voices. She has crossed all stylistic barriers with her inspirational delivery and powerful music, and has an endless list of accolades, best-selling albums, widespread industry recognition, and vast amounts of press coverage to confirm it.

She's garnered multiple awards including GRAMMY®, Stellar's, and Dove's over the years, along with numerous gold-and platinum-certified albums as a solo artist and with brother BeBe as part of the hit-making duo BeBe & CeCe Winans.

She has graced the covers of high-profile publications such as Essence, Jet, CCM, and Today's Christian Woman, among countless others, and has made her rounds in the talk-show circuit, making appearances on The Today Show, Good Morning America, Oprah, Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, and more.

CeCe began her solo career with the Platinum certified album Alone in His Presence, released in 1995 and earned her a Grammy Award and two Dove Awards including Female Vocalist of the Year, an award she earned again in 1997. Winans' next release, Everlasting Love was released in 1998.

In 1999, Winans started her own recording company, PureSprings Gospel. Her first album on the label was Gold certified Alabaster Box, and in 2001 Winans released her next album, the self titled CeCe Winans and in 2003 Throne Room CD and live DVD all of which are Gold certified.

Purified, CeCe's chart-topping 2005 release, saw the singer entertaining her pop sensibilities, proving once again that she excels at interpreting buoyant, life-affirming songs that a wider audience could embrace. But her newest release and eighth solo album, Thy Kingdom Come is different: it finds the gospel veteran going back to what she does best, namely, lavishing honor and glory upon the King of Kings, while rallying His people to live like royal priesthood.

Thy Kingdom Come is one of the most empowering, moving collections of songs CeCe has recorded thus far. To make sure she reached the summit, she wrote or co-wrote 8 of the 14 songs on the project and she enlisted a who's-who of producers to help her get there, including Tommy Sims, Luther "Mano" Hanes, Percy Bady, new comer Christopher Capehart and his production partner Brannon Tunie, Cedric & Victor Caldwell, and even her own son, Alvin Love III.

CeCe is the visionary for the Always Sisters Conference which has taken place in Nashville for the last 3 years. This inspirational conference has helped to motivate and re-direct the life choices of thousands of teens and young women. This year, the conference name has been modified to Always Sisters/Forever Brothers and will include young men in the journey of learning and discovery.


Josh Turner
Josh Turner Real life - including heartaches, happiness, fishing holes, and everything in between - has had a way of finding itself in the middle of Josh Turner songs since he first burst onto the national country music scene. It's those life experiences that keep drawing him back to what has become his unique yet easily identifiable country sound.

Nashville's first taste of that style came with his debut at the Grand Ole Opry in December 2001. The moment has become somewhat legendary in Opry storytelling circles. "When the curtain opened that night," the proverbial storyteller would begin, "no one holding a ticket to the show had ever heard of Josh Turner. But by the end of that chilly Nashville evening, the young singer was all anyone in the audience could talk about." Turner wowed the crowd with his self-penned "Long Black Train", the song that would eventually become his first hit. During this performance, the unknown baritone was showered with several standing ovations. Josh Turner's star began shining that night and hasn't dimmed.

Fast forward nearly six years: Turner has become a husband to wife Jennifer and a father to a two-year-old son Hampton, all while quietly ascending the path to country music superstardom.

Turner can also celebrate the success of first-class album sales. His debut album sold more than one million copies and his sophomore album, Your Man, was one of only four country albums to reach double-platinum status in 2006. His is also continuously heralded by critics as one of the brightest young stars in country music today and his voice has been compared to the legendary Johnny Cash. This status is marked by his invitation to be one the youngest members of the famed Grand Ole Opry.


Marty StuartMarty Stuart
The journey began in Philadelphia, Miss. where Stuart spent quality time with his dad watching the syndicated country-music shows on TV. Even on the family's small, black-and-white set, the stars' costumes sparkled and dazzled, exerting a magnetic pull on a small-town kid with big ambitions.

At age 12, Stuart began playing mandolin with the Sullivan Family, and at age 13, Stuart moved to Nashville and joined Lester Flatt & the Nashville Grass.

After brief stints with Vassar Clements and Doc Watson in the wake of Flatt's death, Stuart landed the job he'd always wanted, playing in the Johnny Cash Show. Cash, Stuart knew, was the professor who could complete his education. And, away they went, down the road for tours that included June Carter, the Carter Family, and the Tennessee Three.

After six-plus years with the Johnny Cash Show, Stuart pulled together his own band and hit the road. The first single, "Arlene," snuck into the Top Twenty, and the second, "All Because of You," snuck into the Top Forty.

Later, Stuart launched on his new label, MCA, with the 1989 album, "Hillbilly Rock." The title track became a Top Ten single. The next album, 1991's "Tempted," used that approach to put four more singles into the Top Twelve. Fueled by success, Stuart started writing songs as fast as he could come up with them.

He co-wrote "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'," but he didn't need the song, so after hearing a young singer named Travis Tritt on the radio Stuart decided to send a demo of "Whiskey" to him. Not only did Tritt want to record the song, but he wanted Stuart to recreate the guitar part he'd put on the demo.

"The Whiskey Ain't Workin'" became a #2 smash, and it was followed by such duets as 1992's #7 hit, "This One's Gonna Hurt You (For a Long, Long Time)," and 1996's #23 hit, "Honky Tonkin's What I Do Best." In 1992, they hit the road on the "No Hats Tour," an irreverent rebuke to the many "hat acts" dominating Nashville at that time. Stuart contributed songwriting to Tritt's next three albums, played guitar on two of them and sang a duet vocal on "Double Trouble" from the last one.

Meanwhile, Stuart continued to rack up hits of his own. The 1992 album, "This One's Gonna Hurt You," yielded not only the title-track duet with Tritt but also three other Top Forty singles: "Now That's Country," "High on a Mountain Top," and "Hey Baby." Stuart produced th

In 2002, Stuart formed The Fabulous Superlatives. Since then he has released 6 CDs: "Country Music," "Souls' Chapel," "Badlands," "Live at the Ryman," "Compadres" and "Cool Country Favorites."

Marty Stuart is country music's Renaissance man. His energetic enthusiasm has gone outside music, yielding impressive work as a photographer, writer, collector and arts executive. Stuart recently launched his own television show, THE MARTY STUART SHOW on the RFD network and published his second book of photography titled "Country Music: The Masters." Stuart's collection of music memorabilia, "Sparkle & Twang" is currently on display at the Autry National Center of the American West, after having been exhibited at the Tennessee State Museum and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Keen to broaden the scope of his life-long passion to uncover the depths and eccentricities of Southern culture, Stuart now finds himself in the opening stages of combining music and the arts to continue his ambitious story. In all his endeavors -- much including his songwriting, singing, playing, and producing -- there is a storyteller at work, a man who listens to and translates the world he knows.


 


CLASS OF NOVEMBER 2008

Martina McBride Randy Travis Little Richard Jo Walker-Meador Trace Adkins Elvis Presley Michael McDonald

 

Martina McBride
Martina McBride Martina McBride has sold 16 million albums, released 22 top 10 singles, including six number ones with crossover success in multiple genres, won numerous CMA Female Vocalist of the Year and ACM Top Female Vocalist awards and has appeared on a slew of national television shows in her illustrious 15-year career. To this day Martina continues to scale new artistic heights.

Born in small-town Kansas, McBride began her singing career in the family band "The Schiffters" where she sang and played keyboard in the band until she finished high school. After completing a semester of college, she left to join another band and soon began to play music full-time.

In 1988, she married sound engineer John McBride, and the couple moved to Nashville in 1990. McBride signed with RCA in 1991 and her debut album, "The Time Has Come", was released in 1992. Her 1993 follow-up album, "The Way That I Am", featured lead single My Baby Loves Me which zoomed up the country charts to number two. The story-song Independence Day became something of a signature number, and another single, Life #9, also reached the Top Ten.

McBride released "Wild Angels" in 1995 and garnered a second Top Five hit with Safe in the Arms of Love, and its title track became her first-ever number one single. 1997's "Evolution" became her first Top Ten country album, and the Jim Brickman duet Valentine not only went Top Ten, but crossed over to become a huge hit on the adult contemporary charts. "Evolution" went on to spawn two number two hits (Happy Girl and Whatever You Say) and two number one hits (A Broken Wing and Wrong Again), and sold over two million copies, launching McBride into the top rank of country stardom.

She returned with "Emotion" in 1999. Its lead single, I Love You, hit number one on country charts and also crossed over to adult contemporary radio, and the follow-ups Love's the Only House, There You Are, and It's My Time were all successful as well. 2001's Greatest Hits compilation was her first album to top the country charts, and sold well enough to make the pop Top Five as well. It contained four hits including Blessed which hit number one, When God-Fearin' Women Get the Blues and Where Would You Be both which reached the Top Ten. McBride released "Martina" in 2003 and "Timeless" in 2005; both became Top Ten album hits, the latter reaching number three.

McBride produced her current album released in 2007. "Waking Up Laughing" marks her evolution as an artist: from a small-town singer with a big voice to a country music icon who commands not only the stage but every facet of her career. McBride, along with fellow inductees, Elvis and Michael McDonald, has also participated in a Tennessee ad campaign aimed at promoting state tourism.


Randy Travis
Randy TravisFew careers have produced as many country classics as that of Randy Travis. In addition to "Forever and Ever, Amen" and "Three Wooden Crosses," Randy Travis has introduced "On the Other Hand," "1982," "Diggin' Up Bones," "He Walked on Water," "Look Heart, No Hands" and his self-composed "I Told You So." His 1990 smash "Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart" has recently been recast as a bluegrass staple. "Point of Light" was the theme song of President Bush's Volunteerism Campaign of 1991 and Carrie Underwood covers "I Told You So" on her current CD.

And when the roll is called of the greatest country albums of all time, such Randy Travis collections as Storms of Life, Old 8x10, Always & Forever, High Lonesome, This Is Me and Full Circle will surely be there. Now Around the Bend becomes an achievement to stand alongside them.

His heartfelt vocals are the envy of his industry. His singing strikes home with fans as well. To date, he has sold more than 21 million records and is one of the 10 top-selling solo country artists of all time.

During the past five years, his music has brought him some of the highest accolades of his career. In 2003-04 his gospel collection Rise and Shine won both a Grammy Award and a Gospel Music Association (GMA) honor. Its single, "Three Wooden Crosses" became a No. 1 smash and was named Song of the Year by the Academy of Country Music.

The years 2004-2007 were good. His Worship & Faith album earned a Grammy Award and GMA accolade. He was honored with a star on the prestigious Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004. His 2006 traditional-gospel CD Glory Train won a GMA award and garnered Travis his sixth Grammy Award in 2007.

In addition to having a phenomenal recording career, Randy Travis has appeared in many films, TV movies and drama series. His movies include Fire Down Below with Steven Seagal, Black Dog with Patrick Swayze, Frank and Jesse with Rob Lowe and The Rainmaker with Danny DeVito, Jon Voight and Matt Damon. He also appeared in White River Kid opposite Antonio Banderas, Ellen Barkin and Lily Tomlin. His costars in Texas Rangers were Dylan McDermott and Usher.

Randy Travis will release his first holiday DVD, CHRISTMAS ON THE PECOS, November 4, 2008 from Image Entertainment. The new special includes live performances shot at the historic Carlsbad Caverns in Carlsbad, New Mexico plus homespun stories and a look at Carlsbad's beautiful "River of Lights" Christmas tradition.


Little Richard
Little Richard Little Richard blew the lid off the Fifties, laying the foundation for rock and roll with his explosive music and charismatic persona. On record, he made spine-tingling rock and roll. His frantically charged piano playing and raspy, shouted vocals on such classics as "Tutti Frutti," "Long Tall Sally" and "Good Golly, Miss Molly" defined the dynamic sound of rock and roll. Onstage, he'd deliver wild, piano-pounding epistles while costumed in sequined vests, mascara, lipstick, and a pompadour that shook with every thundering beat. His road band, the Upsetters, has been credited by James Brown and others with first putting the funk in the rock and roll beat.

His frenzied approach to music was fueled by a genuinely outrageous personality. He was born Richard Penniman during the Depression in Macon, Georgia, one of 12 children who grew up in poverty in the Deep South. As a youngster, he soaked up music - blues, country, gospel, vaudeville - which was part of the fabric of life in the black community. He learned to play piano from an equally flamboyant character named Esquerita.

Little Richard first recorded in a bluesy vein in 1951, but it was his tenure at Specialty Records beginning in 1955 that made his mark as a rock and roll architect. Working at Cosimo Matassa's now-legendary J&M Studio in New Orleans with producer Robert "Bumps" Blackwell and some of the Crescent City's finest musicians, Little Richard laid down a stunning succession of rock and roll sides over the next several years, including "Rip It Up," "Slippin' and Slidin'," "Lucille," "Jenny Jenny" and "Keep a Knockin'," in addition to the songs previously mentioned. He also appeared in rock and roll-themed movies such as Don't Knock the Rock and The Girl Can't Help It (both from 1956).

The bubble burst in late 1957 when, succumbing to the rigors of fame and personal conflicts engendered by his religious upbringing, Little Richard abruptly abandoned rock and roll to enroll in Bible college. However, he was lured back by the British Invasion in 1964, regaining his popularity as a concert performer and a living embodiment of the music's roots in the Fifties. He has launched successful comebacks in every decade since and remains an active performer and icon - and an inimitable reminder of the joyful frenzy that galvanized rock and roll into being more than 40 years ago. Little Richard lives and records in Nashville.


Jo Walker-MeadorJo Walker-Meador
As Executive Director of the Country Music Association (CMA) from 1961-1991, Jo Walker-Meador played a direct and influential role in the remarkable growth of the Country Music industry. One year before she took the helm at the CMA, full-time Country radio stations numbered fewer than 100 nationwide. Today there are more than 2,000 full-time Country Music radio stations across the nation, more than any other musical format.

Born Edith Josephine Denning, she was educated at Peabody College in Nashville and Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn. When industry leaders organized the CMA in 1958, they hired Walker-Meador as office manager. She was to do bookkeeping, typing and general office duties, while former WSM manager Harry Stone served as executive director. After Stone's departure, Walker-Meador stayed on and soon assumed his role. Under her direction, the staff eventually grew to more than 20 employees.

CMA prospered under Walker-Meador's gracious and skillful leadership. Among the organization's well-known programs adopted during her tenure were the launching of the national fundraising drive to build the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (CMA created the Hall of Fame in 1961) and the creation of the annual CMAl Awards , which began in 1967 and was televised nationally for the first time in 1968. The CMA Awards have become one of the top-rated annual televised awards programs. Also during Walker-Meador's tenure, Fan Fair was inaugurated in 1972 as an annual gathering where Country Music artists performed and interacted with their fans. Now known as CMA Music Festival, it has become Nashville's signature music event, drawing thousands of fans from around the globe to Nashville each June. CMA Music Festival has also produced an annual, nationally televised special during the last five years.

CMA celebrates its 50th anniversary as an organization this year. Thanks to the efforts of Walker-Meador and others, CMA has grown from about 200 members to a membership of more than 7,000 individuals and organizations. Today it is the most important trade organization on the Nashville music scene and among the most active in the world. Walker-Meador has remained involved in the events on Music Row since her retirement in 1991. She was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1995.


Trace Adkins
Trace Adkins Multi-platinum selling country star Trace Adkins has achieved success as a performer, musician, author and actor and has clearly earned his place among the most identifiable and important country artists of his generation.

An esteemed member of the Grand Ole Opry, Adkins has built a solid twelve-year career full of chart-topping hits, national TV appearances and highly successful tours. More than 25 of his singles have appeared on Billboard's country charts, including "Every Light In The House Is On," "(This Ain't) No Thinkin' Thing," "I Left Something Turned On At Home," "Songs About Me," "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," and "You're Gonna Miss This" that recently received three 2008 CMA Award nominations.

Earlier this year, Adkins became even a bigger household name thanks to his strong showing on NBC's hit reality series, "The Celebrity Apprentice." He ultimately became one of the show's two finalists and raised more than $300,000 for his charity, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). On November 25, Adkins will release TRACE ADKINS "X" (TEN), his tenth album for Capitol Records Nashville. The album's lead single is "Muddy Water," the soul-stirring ballad that has already cracked country's Top 30 and is still heating up the charts.


Elvis PresleyElvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley, in the humblest of circumstances, was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8, 1935. He and his parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1948, and Elvis graduated from Humes High School there in 1953.

Elvis' musical influences were the pop and country music of the time, the gospel music he heard in church and at the all-night gospel sings he frequently attended, and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager. In 1954, he began his singing career with the legendary Sun Records label in Memphis. In late 1955, his recording contract was sold to RCA Victor which brought him to Nashville to record some of his biggest hits, including "Are You Lonesome Tonight" and "Its Now or Never" at Historic RCA Studio B. By 1956, he was an international sensation. With a sound and style that uniquely combined his diverse musical influences and blurred and challenged the social and racial barriers of the time, he ushered in a whole new era of American music and popular culture.

He starred in 33 successful films, made history with his television appearances and specials, and knew great acclaim through his many, often record-breaking, live concert performances on tour and in Las Vegas. Globally, he has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist. His American sales have earned him gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards for 150 different albums and singles, far more than any other artist. Among his many awards and accolades were 14 Grammy nominations (3 wins) from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, which he received at age 36, and his being named One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation for 1970 by the United States Jaycees. Without any of the special privileges his celebrity status might have afforded him, he honorably served his country in the U.S. Army.

His talent, good looks, sensuality, charisma, and good humor endeared him to millions, as did the humility and human kindness he demonstrated throughout his life. Known the world over by his first name, he is regarded as one of the most important figures of twentieth century popular culture. Elvis' legacy lives on in exhibits and collections like the one on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville and at Graceland in Memphis.


Michael McDonald
Michael McDonald A prominent part of the soundtrack to our times, over the course of his career, Michael McDonald has maintained incredible popularity and has been awarded numerous accolades and honors in both personal and professional arenas. He has won an impressive five Grammys and earned innumerable chart successes and sales feats, yet all the while McDonald remains the artist's artist and an enduring presence in popular music.

Born in St. Louis in 1952, in 1975 Michael McDonald began a long association with Steely Dan, adding his unique timbre songs like "Peg" and "Time Out of Mind," and also touring with the band, singing backup as well as playing keyboards onstage. One year after the release of Steely Dan's Katy Lied, Michael got a call from the Doobie Brothers to join them on the road and by 1977 McDonald was welcomed into The Doobie Brothers as a full member.

In the years that followed, McDonald and the Doobie Brothers enjoyed tremendous commercial and creative success. Their sound evolved from guitar-driven rock to a sultry, tight R&B feel, with McDonald writing and singing lead on "Takin' It to the Streets," "What a Fool Believes," "Minute by Minute," and other signature songs.

Meantime, McDonald began to build his own career. And since the 1982 release of If That's What It Takes, he has completed a series of solo projects, each distinguished by its high production value, well-crafted songs and sultry, full-throated vocals. The success of his singles speaks for itself: "Yah Mo B There," with James Ingram, won a Grammy Award in 1984, "Sweet Freedom" was used as the theme for the film Running Scared, "On My Own," with Patti LaBelle, reached #1 on the Pop and R&B charts and #3 on the AC charts in March of 1986. And "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)" reached the top 5 on the Pop charts and the top 10 on both the R&B and AC charts.

In 2003, Michael paid tribute to the music that inspired him so early on by releasing his album titled Motown which went on to earn a platinum sales certification, as well as two Grammy nominations. He followed it up by releasing Motown 2 in 2004, which debuted at #9 on the Billboard Top Ten and #8 on Billboard's Hip-hop and R&B chart.

Noting an almost matchless consistency through more than 25 years of recording and performing, Warner Brothers celebrated McDonald's career in August 2005 with, Michael McDonald: The Ultimate Collection, which highlights the wide breadth of his career from his days with The Doobie Brothers to his solo hits.

McDonald's most recent effort, 2008's Soul Speak is a unique blend of cover songs and his own new original compositions. The album effectively illustrates Michael's ability to transcend genres with three different singles from the record debuting - and charting - at three different radio formats in the same week. McDonald has lived in Nashville for more than 10 years.

 


CLASS OF APRIL 2008

Kirk Whalum Steven Curtis Chapman Steve Wariner Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Merle Kilgore Hank Williams Sr.

 

Kirk Whalum
Kirk Whalum From an early age, when he played in his father's church choir, Kirk Whalum drew inspiration from the rich musical traditions of gospel, R&B, blues, and eventually jazz. Whalum opened for Bob James in 1984 and impressed him so much that he invited Whalum to play on his album 12. The following year, Whalum signed with Columbia Records and released his first solo album.

The early '90s brought two more Columbia albums, bringing Whalum increasing commercial attention. A duet with James titled "Joined at the Hip" took Whalum's career to a new level with his first Grammy nomination.

The '90s also brought Whalum amazingly diverse session and touring jobs with artists such as Whitney Houston, Babyface, Take 6, Bebe & Cece Winans, Barbra Streisand, Quincy Jones, Al Green and Luther Vandross. He worked on a number of film scores, including The Prince of Tides, Boyz in the Hood, Grand Canyon, and Cousins. From The Bodyguard movie soundtrack, Whitney Houston's hit song "I Will Always Love You" featured a sax solo by Whalum.

His 1998 release, For You, spent nearly two years at the top of Billboard's Contemporary Jazz chart and yielded four Top Ten NAC hits. His self-produced album, Hymns in the Garden, earned a second Grammy nomination. His current release, Roundtrip, garnered him an eighth Grammy nomination in 2008. He is currently putting the finishing touches on The Gospel According to Jazz: Chapter 3.

Since 2005, Whalum has hosted Music City's Labor Day jazz festival. He's an ambassador for Music City, telling the world of the city's rich musical heritage and diverse music offerings.


Steven Curtis Chapman
Steven Curtis Chapman In his iconic musical career, Steven Curtis Chapman has won five Grammy Awards, most recently in 2005 for his release All Things New. He's sold over 10 million records, including two RIAA certified platinum albums and seven RIAA certified gold albums. He's won 51 Dove Awards, more than any other artist to date. In addition, Chapman has won an American Music Award and has recorded 44 No. 1 U.S. radio hits.

Since his recording career began in 1987, Chapman has recorded 16 projects with Sparrow Records. He has performed at the White House and has appeared on nearly every major television network, including the shows CBS Sunday Morning and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

In a response to the miracle the Chapmans saw in their own family through adoption, and with a desire to help eliminate the obstacle of finances for families they knew, they established the Shaohannah's Hope ministry in 2000. In 2002, as opportunities to assist families ready to adopt far outpaced their personal abilities to fund, the ministry began accepting donations to raise further financial grants. In 2003, Shaohannah's Hope became an official 501c3 non-profit organization. To date, they have impacted over 1600 families and receive approximately 125 adoption assistance applications a month. With current funding capacity, 30 to 40 grants are awarded each month with an average amount of $3,000.

Chapman has become a voice for this cause with fans and strangers alike and has mobilized hundreds of donors. His message has impacted others, and a web of influence has been created through the ministry.


Steve Wariner
Steve Wariner Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer and Grand Ole Opry member Steve Wariner has made indelible contributions to the world of country music, starting when he joined Dottie West's band as her bass player at age 17.

Seven years later, in 1980, after working for Bob Luman and his musical hero Chet Atkins, Wariner scored his first Top 10 hit, "Your Memory," on RCA Records. More than 30 additional Top 10 singles would follow, including 14 No. 1 songs like "The Weekend," "Small Town Girl," "Some Fools Never Learn," "Tips of My Fingers" and "Where Did I Go Wrong."

Wariner has also written many hit songs recorded by others, including Garth Brooks' "Longneck Bottle" and "You Can't Help Who You Love," Keith Urban's "Where the Blacktop Ends," Clint Black's "Nothin' But The Taillights" and "Been There," and Bryan White's "One Small Miracle." His formidable songwriting skills have earned him 16 BMI Country Awards and 10 BMI Million-Air Awards.

In addition to his songwriting awards, Wariner has won two Grammy Awards - in 1992 for Best Country Vocal Collaboration and in 2000 for Best Country Instrumental. He won the Country Music Association's Single and Song of the Year awards in 1998 for his No. 1 hit, "Holes in the Floor of Heaven," which was also the Academy of Country Music's Song of the Year in 1999.

With three gold albums to his credit - I Am Ready, Burnin' the Roadhouse Down and Two Teardrops - Wariner was asked to join the Grand Ole Opry in 1996. In 2002, he started his own label, SelecTone Records, for which he has released three albums.


Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band formed during the spring of 1966 as a scruffy, young jug-band. Forty-two years later, the quartet - Jeff Hanna, Jimmie Fadden, Bob Carpenter and John McEuen - is still going strong.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's self-titled debut album, released in 1967, included the pop hit "Buy For Me The Rain." But it was their fifth record, 1970's Uncle Charlie and His Dog Teddy, that would become the band's breakthrough project, yielding three pop hits including their version of Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr. Bojangles." Among the many outstanding tracks on Uncle Charlie was a version of Earl Scruggs' "Randy Lynn Rag." That cut set into motion what would become the Will the Circle be Unbroken album, featuring Scruggs, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Roy Acuff and Mother Maybelle Carter. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Circle album, a three-LP set recorded live in Nashville over six days, became a landmark event and a multi-platinum success. Circle was one of 50 recordings to be honored and preserved by the Library of Congress.

In the early '80s, the band returned to Nashville and began what would become a highly successful career in mainstream country music. Hits including "Dance Little Jean," "Workin' Man," "Long Hard Road," "Baby's Got A Hold On Me" and "Fishin' in the Dark" put them at the top of the country charts for over a decade.

In 1989, the group revisited the Circle concept, gathering another impressive roster of performers. Circle II would go on to win three Grammy Awards and the Country Music Association Album of the Year. In 2002, Circle III received similar accolades, garnering the International Bluegrass Music Association Recorded Event of the Year award as well as leading to a 2005 Grammy for Country Instrumental Performance.

With a career that spans five decades, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has gone from a hippie jug-band to pioneers of country rock, and their influence is still being felt today.


Merle Kilgore
Merle Kilgore Merle Kilgore's illustrious career involved every facet of show business, beginning at age 14 with his first gig carrying Hank Williams Sr.'s guitar at the Louisiana Hayride. He entered professional show business at age 18 as a disc jockey and penned his first million-selling song at age 22. Named one of Billboard magazine's Top 10 songwriters, Kilgore wrote hit after hit, including "Wolverton Mountain," "Ring of Fire" which he co-wrote with June Carter-Cash, "Johnny Reb," and "More and More."

As a performer, Kilgore released multiple Top 10 records including his self-penned Dear Mama and Love Has Made You Beautiful. His acting career featured him in the box office hits Coal Miner's Daughter, Robert Altman's Nashville and Roadie. He also had the rare opportunity to portray himself in NBC-Telecom's Living Proof, the life story of Hank Williams Jr.

Kilgore began his management career at Shapiro-Bernstein Music in 1962 and became the general manager of Hank Williams Jr.'s music publishing companies in 1969. He continued his affiliation with Hank Williams Jr. Enterprises for more than 30 years, serving as Williams' personal manager for 19 years.

Kilgore served as Vice President of the Country Music Association and as a member of its Board of Directors. He was president of both the Nashville Songwriter's Association International and the Nashville Songwriter's Foundation. Kilgore was voted by his peers as CMA's first Manager of the Year in 1990 and in 1998 he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame.


Hank Williams Sr.
Hank Williams Sr. Almost singlehandedly, Hank Williams set the agenda for contemporary country songcraft. His is the standard by which success is measured in country music on every level.

Born in rural southern Alabama, Williams formed the first of his Drifting Cowboys bands in 1938 and the second, more successful, following the war. He quickly became the biggest hillbilly music star in Montgomery. In 1946, Williams signed with the famed Acuff-Rose publishing company and landed a recording contract with MGM the next year. His first MGM release, "Move It on Over," was a hit in the fall of 1947.

In 1948, Williams moved to Shreveport, La., to appear on a new radio broadcast, the Louisiana Hayride. He recorded "Lovesick Blues," a show tune that dated back to 1922 and it reached No. 1 in May 1949, staying there 16 weeks. The success of that record and its follow-up, "Wedding Bells," convinced the Grand Ole Opry to hire Williams. He moved to Nashville in June 1949 and swiftly became one of the biggest stars in country music. Increasingly, he decided to perform his own songs, and after the success of his own 'Long Gone Lonesome Blues" in the spring of 1950, virtually all of his hits were his own compositions.

Every Hank Williams record charted and he became one of country music's most successful touring acts. His songs soon found a wider audience in the pop market, but it was not until Tony Bennett covered "Cold, Cold Heart" in 1951 that he began to also be recognized as a popular songwriter.

In six short years, Hank Williams lodged almost 40 chart hits, including the country chart toppers "Lovesick Blues," "Long Gone Lonesome Blues," "Why Don't You Love Me," "Moanin' the Blues," "Cold, Cold Heart," "Hey, Good Lookin'," "Jambalaya" and "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive." Williams was the first artist elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, a tribute indicative of his impact.

 


CLASS OF NOVEMBER 2007

Rodney Crowell Bob DiPiero Vince Gill Jimi Hendrix Buddy Killen Barbara Mandrell

 

Rodney Crowell
Although many of his songs became hits for other singers, Rodney Crowell was the first to record nearly all of them. His highly influential records have spawned dozens of classic country songs.

The Houston, Texas native became a musician in his father's band at the young age of eleven. He made the move to Nashville in August of 1972 with his college roommate and in 1977, Crowell formed his own group, The Cherry Bombs which included music greats Vince Gill and Tony Brown. In 1978 he released his first album.

A Grammy Award winner, ASCAP Lifetime Achievement award recipient and member of the Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame, Rodney Crowell has left an indelible mark on Nashville's music scene. He began his professional career as a musician playing guitar for three years in Emmylou Harris' "Hot Band." As a songwriter he has penned hits for Tim McGraw, Emmylou Harris, Dwight Yokam, Keith Urban, Patty Loveless, Crystal Gayle, Lee Ann Womak, Waylon Jennings, Bob Seger and the Oak Ridge Boys, just to name a few. As a producer, Crowell produced the first five studio albums for Rosanne Cash and has produced other artists such as Guy Clark, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Chely Wright and others. As an artist he has recorded 11 solo records and garnered eight Top 10 singles, five of which were No. 1 songs all from his 1988 album Diamonds & Dirt.


Bob DiPiero
For the past 20 years Bob DiPiero has helped define the best that is Music Row. He has been a musical ambassador and bridge-builder having written with legendary performers of all genres including Neil Diamond, Carole King, Johnny Van Zant and Delbert McClinton, among many others.

DiPiero's list of songs cuts a varied and impressive swath through modern country and speaks volumes about his versatility. Although his first cut, Reba McEntire's "I Can See Forever In Your Eyes," climbed into the country top 20, The Oak Ridge Boys' "American Made" put his name on the music map. Not only did the song win numerous awards, but it was also used in major ad campaigns for Miller beer and the Baby Ruth candy bar. Through the years he has crafted 14 No. 1 hits recorded by country giants including Vince Gill, Faith Hill, George Strait, Montgomery Gentry, Brooks & Dunn, Travis Tritt, Martina McBride and others.

He has received three dozen BMI Country and Million-.Air honors; CMA's Triple Play Award in 1995 and 1996. "Song of the Year" for "Worlds Apart" at the Country Radio Music awards in 1997 and Songwriter of the Year awards in 1998 at the Nashville music Awards and in 2000 from Sony/ATV Nashville. He is also a recent inductee to the Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame.


Vince Gill
Born in Norman, Okla., Vince Gill enjoyed acclaim in the bluegrass and pop worlds before actively pursuing a career in mainstream country during the '80s.

In 1975 Gill joined the Bluegrass Alliance and moved to Kentucky. His brief stint there also allowed him to play in Ricky Skaggs' bluegrass band, Boone Creek. In 1976, Gill moved to Los Angeles where he eventually became the lead singer in the country-rock band Pure Prairie League in 1979. After a few years he returned to sideman work in the Cherry Bombs, backing Rodney Crowell and Rosanne Cash. During their tenure in the Cherry Bombs, Gill and keyboardist Tony Brown began a friendship that led to Gill being signed to both the RCA and MCA labels.

A move to Nashville in 1984 coincided with Gill's recording contract after Brown, an RCA executive, signed him to the label. Gill's output at RCA resulted in three Top 10 singles. However, Gill's early singles didn't propel him to immediate stardom.

After leaving the RCA roster, Gill moved to MCA, where Brown was then a producer and label executive. His 1989 debut album for MCA, When I Call Your Name, sold 1 million copies and his breakthrough at radio came with the title track. It went on to win single of the year honors at the CMA Awards. Gill's subsequent albums in the '90s were huge hits providing a string of No. 1 singles including "I Still Believe in You," "Don't Let Our Love Start Slippin' Away," "The Heart Won't Lie," "One More Last Chance" and "Tryin' to Get Over You."

Gill has sold more than 22 million albums. He has earned 18 CMA Awards, including Entertainer of the Year in 1993 and 1994. He is tied with George Strait for having won the most CMA Male Vocalist Awards (five), and is currently second only to Brooks and Dunn for accumulating the most CMA Awards in history. Gill is a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and has received 18 Grammy Awards to date, the most of any male Country artist. Besides being known for his talent as a performer, musician and songwriter, Gill is regarded as one of country music's best known humanitarians, participating in hundreds of charitable events throughout his career.

Last month The Country Music Association announced that Gill will become one the newest members of the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame.


Jimi Hendrix
Perhaps no other rock-and-roll artist has been as original or as influential in such a short span of time as Jimi Hendrix, and Nashville was where he spent important formative years.

Hendrix moved to Nashville in 1962 after completing military service at nearby Fort Campbell, Kentucky. It was in Music City that he honed his stage craft and began performing professionally on a regular basis. Hendrix and army friend Billy Cox formed the band The King Kasuals which served as the house band at the Club Del Morocco on Nashville's Jefferson Street. During his time in the city he was mentored by local R&B guitarists such as Johnny Jones and George Yates and also made his first-ever television appearance in 1965 on Night Train, produced at WLAC-TV in Nashville.

In addition to clubs on Jefferson Street, Hendrix and Cox were also regular players in Printers Alley, located in the heart of downtown Nashville. For three years, he made a living on the Chitlin Circuit, performing in black-oriented venues throughout the South with both the King Kasuals and in backing bands for various soul, R&B and blues musicians.

Hendrix left Nashville and headed for New York City and eventually moved onto London. After initial success in England he achieved worldwide fame following his 1967 performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. Later, Hendrix headlined the iconic 1969 Woodstock Festival.

In 1992 Hendrix was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was dedicated in 1994. In 2006, his debut album, Are You Experienced, was inducted into the United States National Recording Preservation Board's National Recording Registry. Rolling Stone named Hendrix No. 1 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of all time in 2003.


Buddy Killen
One of the music industries most diversified and enduring founders, Buddy Killen has literally left his fingerprints on every facet of the business - creatively touching its entire spectrum while making his mark as a musician, song-plugger, songwriter, publisher and record producer.

Killen began his career by playing bass for two comedians which soon led to road show tours with such artists as Hank Williams, Sr., Jim Reeves, Ray Price and Eddy Arnold among others. After Opry manager Jack Stapp took notice of Killen's work ethic he offered him a job pitching songs for a new publishing company called Tree. In the beginning, neither of them knew what a music publishing company was all about, but by the time they had their first international hit, "Heartbreak Hotel" by Elvis, they had turned the corner to solid gold success. Killen's keen eye for talent brought such songwriters to the Tree family as Bill Anderson, Roger Miller, Harlan Howard, Bobby Braddock, Dolly Parton and countless others.

In 1959 the Tree family of writers were doing so well that one week they owned 7 out of the Top 10 hits on the country charts. In 1964 the company had its first million dollar year. Eleven successful years later Killen was named President. In 1980, when Stapp passed away, Killen purchased sole ownership of Tree and continued to nurture its growth as Chief Executive Officer, until 1989 when he sold the company to CBS (now Sony/ATV) and began building what has become the Killen Music Group.

Today, the Killen Music Group (KMG) publishes music recorded by the multi-platinum sensation OutKast, as well as songs recorded by many country artists including Faith Hill, Trace Adkins, Lonestar, Patty Loveless, Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire and Rascal Flatts, as well as many gospel artists.


Barbara Mandrell
Barbara Mandrell is a true star in the very best sense of the word. Born on Christmas Day in 1948, Barbara learned to read music before she could read words. Over the years, she added steel guitar, alto saxophone, bass, banjo, mandolin, and Dobro to her arsenal of instruments. At age 11, her father took her to a music trade show in Chicago where she performed and caught the attention of legendary country guitarist, "Uncle" Joe Maphis and became a regular cast member on the "Town Hall Party" TV show in California. At age 13, her first touring dates were with The Johnny Cash Show, which included Cash, Patsy Cline, George Jones and June Carter. Mandrell signed with CBS Records in 1969, debuting with Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long," and unveiling her trademark blue-eyed soul style that was an instant hit with radio stations. In 1972 she fulfilled a lifelong dream by becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Her first No. 1 hit, "Midnight Oil," came in 1973.

Barbara's music career, spanning nearly four decades, earned her over 75 major awards, including two consecutive CMA Entertainer of the Year awards (1980 & 1981, making her the first artist ever to win two years in a row), CMA Female Vocalist of the Year (1979 and 1981), ACM Top Female Country Music Vocalist (1980 and 1986), NARAS Grammy Award for the Best Inspirational Performance (1983), Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance (1984), Dove Award for Gospel Album of the Year (1983) and nine People's Choice Awards (1983-1987).

She is one of only six artists to have received the "Triple Crown" by winning all three of the most coveted awards, Top New Female, Top Female and Entertainer of the Year. Her NBC variety show, "Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters" drew nearly 40 million viewers weekly and introduced a nation to country music. Her autobiography, "Get to the Heart: My Story" debuted on The New York Times Best Sellers list and remained there for six months. In the year 2000, the Academy of Country Music honored Barbara with their most prestigious award, The Pioneer Award. Her illustrious career was nothing short of stellar and is still making an impact on country music today.

Last year, country music greats Randy Owen of Alabama, Sara Evans, Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, Lorrie Morgan, Willie Nelson, Shelby Lynne, Dierks Bentley, Terri Clark, LeAnn Rimes, Blaine Larsen, and CeCe Winans came together to honor Barbara with the BNA album, "She Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool: A Tribute to Barbara Mandrell." GAC also aired several specials surrounding the album release, further bringing attention to the remarkable career of this living legend.

 


 

CLASS OF APRIL 2007

The Crickets Emmylou Harris John Hiatt Wynonna Judd Frances W. Preston Michael W. Smith

 

The Crickets
In a career that has spanned nearly five decades and millions of records, the Crickets are unquestionably "The American Rock and Roll Band." Since the group's founding in 1957, they have influenced virtually every major rock performer in the United States and abroad. The Crickets were formed in Lubbock, Texas by Buddy Holly and J. I. Allison, with Niki Sullivan and Joe B. Mauldin joining shortly thereafter. Niki left the group after the first tour to pursue a solo career. Buddy, J. I. and Joe B. toured and recorded extensively until late 1958, when Buddy moved to New York. J. I. and Joe B. decided to stay in Texas and asked Sonny Curtis to join the band. Their hits "That'll Be The Day," "Peggy Sue," "Maybe Baby" and "I Fought The Law" are bona fide rock classics and considered primary lessons in how rock music should be written, played and enjoyed. In the mid 70s, J. I., Joe B., and Sonny relocated to Tennessee where they continued their long association with Waylon Jennings and began touring and recording with him. Since then, they have also continued to record and issue albums including a critically-acclaimed musical tribute to Buddy Holly which they recorded with Levon Helm and the Band entitled "Not Fade Away" released on Decca Records. Their latest release, "The Crickets and Their Buddies," features Eric Clapton, Rodney Crowell, Phil & Jason Everly, Nanci Griffith, Waylon Jennings, Peter Case, Albert Lee, Graham Nash, Vince Neil, John Prine, Johnny Rivers, J.D. Souther and Bobby Vee. This induction is a fitting tribute to a band who literally defined rock and roll music and who today, over fifty years later, still help set the standard of excellence by which it should be judged.


Emmylou Harris
Twelve-time Grammy Award winner and Billboard Century Award recipient Emmylou Harris has been admired for her talent as a musician and singer since her major label debut in 1975 with "Pieces of the Sky." But it was with her 2000 album, "Red Dirt Girl," that she revealed her gift for songwriting. Continuing the trend with her September 2003 album, "Stumble Into Grace," Emmylou wrote ten of the album's eleven tracks. Though Emmylou is one of the most admired and influential woman in contemporary country music, her scope extends far beyond that. She has recorded with such diverse artists as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Ryan Adams, Beck, Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, Tammy Wynette, Sheryl Crow, Lyle Lovett, Roy Orbison, The Band, Willie Nelson and George Jones. With her crystalline voice and her restless creative spirit, Emmylou has been a part of many musical genres over the years, from bluegrass and traditional folk to contemporary folk and rock. Fittingly, Billboard magazine called Harris a "truly venturesome, genre-transcending pathfinder." A longtime social activist, Harris has lent her voice to many causes. She is active in cultural preservation issues, notably the Country Music Foundation and the Grand Ole Opry. As an animal rights activist, a dog foster mother running a rescue facility (Bonaparte's Retreat) and the owner of several dogs and cats, Emmylou also supports her local humane shelters, the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Association and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Since 1997 she has been the most visible spokesperson for Concerts for a Landmine Free World, drawing public attention and notable musicians to the cause.


John Hiatt
Hiatt is a master of all trades when it comes to making music—successfully mastering rock guitar, piano, singing and writing songs. He has been nominated for eleven Grammy Awards and has been awarded a variety of other distinctions in the music industry. His first top-forty hit, "Sure As I'm Sitting Here," was covered by Three Dog Night and was written when Hiatt was working as a songwriter for Tree-Music Publishing in Nashville. Since then, he has released eighteen studio albums and two live albums. His songs have been covered by a variety of artists including Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffet and Roseanne Cash—just to name a few. His 1987 hit "Have a Little Faith in Me" brought him national attention and was covered by a number of artists, the most notable of which was Joe Cocker. In 2003, his song "Cry Lover" was a big hit and was featured on an episode of HBO's "Arrested Development." His duo with Bonnie Raitt on "Thing Called Love" proved to be very successful, and he went on to record duets with a variety of notables including Emmylou Harris ("Icy Blue Heart"), Roseanne Cash ("The Way We Make a Broken Heart") and B.B. King & Eric Clapton ("Riding with the King"). A musician's musician, Hiatt has proven to everyone that he has what it takes to be an all-around great.


Wynonna Judd
Wynonna Judd first came into prominence in 1984 as part of the legendary mother-daughter duo, The Judds—one of the most celebrated success stories in country music history. In just six short years, the Judds sold more than twenty million records worldwide and won over sixty industry awards including five Grammys, nine Country Music Association Awards and Eight Billboard Music Awards. In 1992, Wynonna signed her first solo record deal and the rest, as they say, is history. With hits including classics like "Mama He's Crazy," "I Know Where I'm Going," "No One Else on Earth" and "Grandpa," Wynonna has enjoyed twenty #1 hits throughout her career. A world-renowned vocalist and entertainer, Wynonna has accumulated sales totals as a solo artist in excess of ten million units. Receiving a Top Female Vocalist win by the Academy of Country Music, Wynonna has also had thirteen top-ten hits on the charts. Her charitable contributions are vast, and she uses her website to promote her "Charity of the Month" ranging from the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund to ARF Animal Rescue Foundation. In 2005, she teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to record "Heart of America" which raised over $90 million for victims of natural disasters on the Gulf Coast. Additionally, she continues to bring attention to the global emergency of AIDS in her fourth year as United States Ambassador for YouthAIDS.


Frances W. Preston
Frances W. Preston has come a long way since her position as receptionist at WSM radio station. In 1958, she left WSM to open a Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) southern regional office in Nashville to license performing rights for songwriters and music publishers. Preston led BMI to a position of preeminence in the south. In 1964, the year the Nashville BMI Building opened on Music Row, Preston became a vice president. Quickly moving up the ranks, she served as President and CEO of BMI from 1986 to 2004, during which time the company's revenue more than tripled to over $673 million. Under her leadership, BMI enjoyed a consistent record of increasing revenues and royalty distributions to its more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers. During the 2003/2004 fiscal year, BMI distributed the largest amount of royalties ever paid by an American performing rights organization, with international revenues also increasing to record numbers. From her early work signing Southern regional songwriters, to overseeing a company that represents the works of legendary international artists from Sting to Gloria Estefan, she led the effort to build BMI's repertoire into the world's most popular and delivered a royalty system to match. Not surprisingly, Fortune magazine called her "one of the true powerhouses of the pop music business." She is a well-known figure on Capitol Hill, frequently testifying in support of creators' rights. She maintains a passionate dedication to a number of the industry's leading charities and serves as the non-salaried President of the largest medical charity, the T.J. Martell Foundation for Leukemia, Cancer and AIDS Research. Her involvement led to the creation of the Frances Williams Preston Research Laboratories at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville, a research lab named in her honor.

She has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. She is the recipient of the NARAS Heroes Award from the New York Chapter of the Recording Academy, the President's Award from the Nashville Songwriters Association International, the President's Award from the National Music Publishers' Association, and the City of Hope "Spirit of Life" Award. She has twice received a Humanitarian Award from the International Achievement in Arts Awards in New York.

She holds honorary degrees from the Berklee College of Music (Boston), Lincoln College (Lincoln, Illinois) and Oklahoma University (Tulsa).


Michael W. Smith
Starting out as a songwriter and keyboard player for Amy Grant, Smith has since enjoyed thirty-one #1 hits, three Grammys, an American Music Award, five platinum records, sixteen gold records and forty GMA Music Awards. With record sales numbering more than thirteen million throughout his career, Smith is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In 2006, he received an official White House appointment to serve as Vice Chair to the President's Council for Service and Civic Participation. Michael W. Smith demonstrates his capacity to share the scripture with the world by actively serving at his church, New River Fellowship in Franklin, TN, and through his work with Rocketown, a teen club, coffee house and skate park which he founded in downtown Nashville whose mission is to foster vital relationships between disenfranchised adolescents and Christian mentors. He recently described his nineteenth studio album for Reunion Records titled "Stand" as a "call to stand up for what you believe in," and he encourages listeners to "take a stand believing we are loved."


CLASS OF NOVEMBER 2006

Boudleaux & Felice Bryant Reba McEntire Roy Orbison Fisk Jubilee Singers Ronnie Milsap Kenneth Schermerhorn

 

Boudleaux & Felice Bryant
This husband and wife are generally considered the first writers to move to Nashville to make their living solely as songwriters, relocating in 1950. The diversity and quantity of the Bryants' catalog is staggering, with 800 unique songs recorded by thousands of artists. They wrote some of the most enduring songs of the 1950s and 1960s, including many of the Everly Brothers' biggest hits ("Bye Bye Love," "Wake Up Little Susie," "All I Have To Do Is Dream" and "Love Hurts") as well as the Tennessee anthem "Rocky Top." Among their many honors are membership in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. Boudleaux Bryant died in 1987, Felice Bryant in 2003.


Fisk Jubilee Singers
Since their founding in 1871, the young men and women of this a capella ensemble – students of Fisk University in Nashville – have served as cultural ambassadors, transcending time and race through their stirring performances. The nine original Jubilee Singers introduced 'slave songs' to the world via landmark tours in the US and abroad, and were instrumental in preserving this unique American musical tradition known today as Negro spirituals, songs that became cornerstones of the next century's music. Presenting a new public image for African-American music, they broke racial barriers in the late 19th century as they entertained American presidents and European royalty. The Fisk Jubilee Singers, currently numbering 20 members, are celebrating their 135 th anniversary this year.


Reba McEntire
The leading lady of country music for over 20 years has fashioned a career that is the picture of longevity and consistency. Her stellar recording efforts have included 33 #1 songs, 30 albums with sales of 50 million, countless shows and performances and a slew of awards, including multiple honors from the American Music Awards, the Grammys and the Country Music Association (among them CMA Entertainer of the Year). While her catalog is filled with songs that incorporate classic country attitudes and emotions, she is unmatched in her selection of socially conscious material. Reba McEntire is also highly regarded as an actress, enjoying acclaim for performances on Broadway and in her self-titled WB sitcom, plus feature films, videos and network television specials.


Ronnie Milsap
The pre-eminent country soul singer of his generation, he provided country music with one of its most important voices as the genre was moving beyond its rural roots into the mainstream of modern entertainment. Even as he mastered classical piano as a young boy, his heart belonged to hardcore country and rhythm-and-blues. Eventually, he forged his myriad of influences into a cosmopolitan style of country music that helped revolutionize Nashville. His track record speaks loud and clear: 40 # 1 singles, over 25 million records sold, seven Grammy Awards, four Academy of Country Music Awards, and eight Country Music Association Awards. Together, they underscore Ronnie Milsap's position as one of the best-loved and most enduring artists in country music history.


Roy Orbison
A founding father of rock and roll, he became one of the most distinctive voices in popular music with his four-octave range and lyrically sophisticated, rhythmically advanced songs. One of the original Sun Records artists alongside Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley, he moved to Nashville in 1960 and signed with Monument Records. Over four decades he created the soundtrack for millions of lives with songs like "Only The Lonely," "Running Scared," "Crying" "Oh Pretty Woman," "Handle With Care" and "You Got It." He enjoyed incredible success all over the world: tour mates included Patsy Cline and the Beach Boys, among others, as well as opening acts the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. In tribute to his wide-ranging influence are multiple Grammy Awards and memberships in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame. When Roy Orbison died in 1988, he had two albums in the top 5, one with the Traveling Wilburys and a solo effort.


Maestro Kenneth D. Schermerhorn
The Nashville Symphony's music director and conductor led the orchestra to national and international prominence during a remarkable 22-year tenure. A professional musician by the age of 14, he studied with, and served as assistant to, Leonard Bernstein, leading to positions with orchestras and performance companies around the world. Maestro Schermerhorn joined the Nashville Symphony in 1983; under his leadership, the Symphony recorded Grammy-nominated CDs that broke international sales records and undertook its first East Coast tour, which culminated in a stunning debut at Carnegie Hall in 2000. The NSO recently dedicated the world-class Schermerhorn Symphony Center in his honor. Maestro Schermerhorn died in 2005.