Humility and Reverence as Country Music Hall of Fame Class of 2017 was Announced

and Reverence as Country Music Hall of Fame Class of 2017 was Announced
The CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame
Kyle Young was there;  Sarah Trahern, the
CEO of the Country Music Association, was there; distinguished Country Music
Hall of Fame members were there and media professionals and country music fans
alike from all around the world held their breaths in excitement as the
introductions and announcements began.
This year’s
Hall of Fame Inductee ceremony took place as it should in the CMHoF’s Rotunda in
Nashville with Thomas Hart Benton’s mural The Sources of Country Music as an
appropriate background.  We did not have
to hold our breaths for long this year as the host Vince Gill began introducing
the first inductee in the Veteran’s Era Artist category.  In fact, the first sentences revealed who it
was for many a fanatic country music supporter as Gill mentioned the key words
“whit”, “fiery guitar playing” and “acting” and we understood that the honor
was going to the incomparable Jerry Reed (if you by some strange overlook
haven’t encountered the charismatic Reed’s creative work yet, CMNI recommends
listening to Elvis Presley’s version of “Guitar Man”, a song that Jerry Reed
wrote and plays guitar on, and watching the movie “Smokey and the Bandit”).  At the ceremony, Reed’s daughters Seidina and
Lottie spoke on their late dad’s behalf with Seidina saying “This is the most
wonderful day” and “If dad was here, he would have been most humbled”.  Lottie followed by giving us a small glimpse
of their family life and a huge insight of who Reed was as a passionate
musician by sharing how she remembers going to bed each night hearing her dad
playing guitar and waking up the next morning with him doing the same.  In his career, Reed received several
accolades including two CMA Instrumentalist of the Year Awards and two Grammys  for instrumental performances with Chet Atkins
on “Sneakin’ Around” and “Me and Jerry” and one Grammy for Best Country Vocal
Performance, Male, for “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot”.
When Gill
returned, the reverence was still felt as he started describing the career of
the next honoree, briefly interrupting himself with humorous remarks about what
he was reading and both declining and taking credit for well formulated wording.  Gill ended his intro with the famous words of
Kenny Rogers:   “Don Schlitz doesn’t just
write songs, he writes careers”.  Don
Schlitz is the Class of 2017’s Inductee in the Songwriter category and also a Nashville
Songwriters Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductee.  He has won two Grammys, three CMA awards for
Song of the Year, four ASCAP Song of the Year Awards, and twenty-four country
hits reaching the number one spot.  So,
what would a mega-creative storyteller who has penned “The Gambler” do when coming
to conducting a speech?  No less than
making it a story.  Schlitz gave us a time
travel from the day a month ago when CMA’s CEO called and asked him if he and
his wife had anything scheduled on April 5th – immediately stirring
up wishes to share the news with everyone who played a part in his writing
career and by mentioning them also giving them credit, wanting to scream “Look
what we’ve done!” – to this day when he thanked his parents saying “Look what
you’ve done!”.   The speech was a
masterful and humble performance by a master writer.
Each of the upcoming
Hall of Fame members was greeted by a standing ovation when making their entrance
and the living legend who was selected in the Modern Era Artist category received
the same, but speaking of humble:  as
Alan Jackson had made himself comfortable in front of the assembled, he cut the
ovation short by commanding “That’s enough”, and the audience complied.  Jackson spoke about how important his dad was
in the choice of profession by telling a story of how after watching Buck Owens
on Hee Haw, his dad said to him: “You ought to do that.”  And he sure did.  He is to country music what Beatles is to pop
and one of the most awarded artists in his genre.  His first four albums sold more than twenty
million albums over the course of five years and need we say more than “Here In
the Real World”, “Don’t Rock The Jukebox” and “Chattahoochee”?   ASCAP gave him their very first Heritage
Award in 2014 as they recognized him as the most played songwriter artist over
the last one hundred years and nine of his albums have reached multiplatinum
 As he concluded with mentioning the importance
of a water ski and a pair of jeans with holes in them (they were in his video
for “Chattahoochee”), Jackson started getting touched by being part of the
historic event in the Hall of Fame’s Rotunda and cut his speech a bit short
too, again showing honest humility.
The country
music family circle and this world would not have been the same without this
year’s inductees and their contributions to the music that so undauntedly
depicts feelings of everyday people like you and me, or as fellow inducted Gill
concluded: “It takes a village to accomplish something like this”.
Shelley Ridge
For Country
Music News International Magazine

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