Sunday, 3 May, 2009 9:05 PM
CMA Announces New Inductees into
Country Music Hall of Fame
by John Russell / CMA
Country Music Hall of Fame inductees Roy Clark, Barbara Mandrell
and Charlie McCoy.
2009 CMA Close Up News Service
The doors to the Country
Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville opened promptly at 9
AM Feb. 4. Visitors filed into the building, eager to take in the
exhibits on display. Aside from the cold wind that whistled outside,
this day was no different than most during these opening moments
at the Museum - or so it seemed until greeters and guides began
letting members of the crowd in on a secret.
"You folks are really
lucky to be here today," one of them told the new arrivals.
"In just half an hour, CMA will be announcing who will be inducted
this year into the Country Music Hall of Fame."
As word spread through
the lobby, three longtime friends stood together in the Hall of
Fame Rotunda on the second floor, wrapping up their first photo
session as designated members of the hallowed Hall.
"This is cool,"
said multi-instrumental virtuoso Charlie McCoy, who enters the Hall
in the category of "Recording and/or Touring Musician Active
Prior to 1980," which rotates every third year along with the
"Career Achieved National Prominence Prior to World War II"
He nudged playfully toward
Barbara Mandrell, who joins the Hall under "Career Achieved
National Prominence Between 1975 and the Present." Her smile
widened as McCoy joked, "And her husband is right there!"
"Hey, do you want
me to leave?" asked Ken Dudney, grinning from outside of camera
range. Mandrell, beaming back at her partner of nearly 42 years,
then looked to McCoy and, to her left, Roy Clark, voted into the
Hall in the "Career Achieved National Prominence Between World
War II and 1975" category, and said, "I like being between
"A rose between
the thorns," McCoy added, prompting all three to laugh.
These giants of Country
Music have shared more than that through the years - "I don't
think I've ever had a record that didn't have Charlie McCoy,"
Mandrell would marvel a short while later, during the press conference
downstairs in the Ford Theater. And from this point, they will also
be remembered as the Class of 2009, this year's honorees of the
Country Music Hall of Fame.
The media briefing began
at 10 AM, with welcoming remarks from CMA CEO Tammy Genovese, who
then introduced Liz Thiels, Senior VP of Public Relations, Country
Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Appearing on behalf of the Museum's
Executive Director Kyle Young, who was out of town on business,
Thiels said of the new members, "While their individual careers
are unique, each one has nodded to tradition to create music that's
very relevant to the first generation of the Space Age. Their music
will be relevant for ages to come. All three have helped to extend
the footprint of Country Music and American culture around the world."
Thiels described the
event at which they would soon be officially inducted. "In
a few weeks, the current members of the Hall of Fame will gather
in this room for a Medallion Ceremony, underwritten by CMA and produced
by this Museum. After some wonderful fellowship, storytelling and
great music, a Hall of Fame member will conduct the official and
formal life induction of each new member. Representing all of the
membership, the presenting member will welcome each inductee as
a peer Country Music master craftsman."
CMA Board Chairman Randy
Goodman, President, Lyric Street and Carolwood Records, described
CMA's ongoing support for the Museum, which CMA most recently honored
with a $1 million endowment, to be paid over five years, to the
organization's Words & Music educational program.
"The CMA Board recognizes
the value of honoring this legacy while at the same time enhancing
Country Music for the future," he observed.
Next, the identities
of the three new members were revealed in sequence, beginning with
Mel Tillis, who was inducted
into the Hall in 2007, had been chosen by McCoy to provide his introduction.
"My name is Mel
Tillis . I'm Pam's daddy," he began, and then he moved quickly
to announcing McCoy's name and sharing stories of how they met more
than 50 years ago, when Tillis heard the young musician performing
at a club in Florida.
"He did the guitar
playing to 'Detroit City,'" Tillis said, and then he replicated
the famous lick that opened Bobby Bare's cover of that celebrated
Tillis composition. "I didn't know that. I just found that
An ovation greeted McCoy
as he walked onto the stage. He devoted his time to acknowledging
a long list of people and, right at the top, one organization: "I'd
like to thank CMA and the Hall of Fame for including musicians."
Apologizing for those
names he might omit, McCoy paid homage to God, his family and to
the Nashville stalwarts he had known: Chet Atkins, Harold and Owen
Bradley, Jim Denny, Fred Foster, Neal Matthews of The Jordanaires,
Harold "Pig" Robbins ("the greatest session player
I've ever known"), former CMA Executive Director Jo Walker-Meador
and many others, including "the 302 musicians, background singers
and engineers who have contributed to my first 35 albums."
The next presenter, Hall
of Fame member Carl Smith, towered over the podium as he introduced
Clark. "We've had some times together - several times and many
times," he mused. But he declined to elaborate, suggesting
that if he were to speak too candidly, "they'd still put us
in some damn big jail."
The laughter turned to
an ovation as Clark came forward. He told a hilarious story of a
show they'd played together at Buck Lake Ranch in Indiana, where
Smith, impatient to leave with Clark for the airport, attempted
to cut his act short first by firing off a cap gun on the stage.
When that didn't work, he sneaked behind Clark and, one by one,
cut each string of his guitar with a wire cutter until the final
low E string snapped.
concluded, with perfect timing, "my show was complete."
"It makes you proud
to be considered in this league," said Clark. "I never
thought about being in the Hall of Fame before because you're busy
working in your career. Then when you are selected it makes you
stop and think. I'm now in a pretty exclusive club that includes
Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Roy Acuff and Little Jimmy Dickens,
among many others. The proudest part of my induction is that I'm
now associated with all of my friends and heroes."
As for Mandrell, the
secret was out the moment her sister Louise walked into the spotlight.
Her voice catching with emotion, she shared stories of Barbara's
precocious musicianship, dating back to when she used a drinking
glass instead of the missing steel bar to play a show on steel guitar
at age 11.
And she drew smiles when,
recalling their network TV show "Barbara Mandrell and The Mandrell
Sisters," she declared, "I can't believe Barbara made
When her older sister
emerged to a sustained and emotional welcome, the mood of affection
expanded into a series of reflections on friends, family, associates
and even her experience on the CMA Board. "Believe me,"
she insisted, "I know how hard they work to promote and perpetuate
the growth of Country Music."
Mandrell ended with a
special appreciation for her parents, who were in attendance. "When
I came to Nashville, the only reason I could afford to have beautiful
clothes is that my mother made them," she said, directing her
gaze to Mary Mandrell. Turning to her father Irby, she continued,
"This guy is my partner. Dad started teaching me steel guitar,
and he would play rhythm guitar for me so I could practice. And
when he told me to sing, Daddy would say, 'Don't just sing here
in the living room. Sing to them across the street.'" Sadly,
Irby Green would pass away just one month later, with his family
at his bedside.
and Roy are truly deserving of Country Music's biggest honor and
the opportunity to join the legendary artists and musicians who
are the Country Music Hall of Fame," Genovese said. "Barbara
and Roy are among our format's greatest ambassadors due to their
numerous hit singles, national TV series, versatile musicianship,
live concert appearances, acting opportunities and mainstream recognition.
And Charlie's musical talents have enriched every recording on which
he has performed, making him an irreplaceable part of America's
Genovese then brought
the press conference to its end by inviting photographers to take
photos of the honorees and media crews to follow with questions
on the same stage where, in May, their entry into the Hall would
be sealed by their Medallion Ceremony.
CMA created the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 to recognize
individuals for their outstanding contributions to the format with
Country Music's highest honor. Clark, Mandrell and McCoy will increase
membership from 105 to 108 inductees.
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