Emotional Hall of Fame Inductee Ceremony
As in any place where there is a gathering of musicians, songwriters and people who make a living off of offering their hearts and emotions for anyone to take part of, there is certain to be laughter, joy, gratitude and tears. So it was when Fred Foster, Charlie Daniels and Randy Travis were announced as the newest inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame at a press conference in the Hall of Fame Rotunda at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville.
The class acts of the 2016 Class were presented by none other than Ms. Brenda Lee, who along with the preceding speakers, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s CEO Kyle Young and CMA’s CEO Sarah Trahern, were stating that this year’s members-to-be are artists and music industry legends have had and have respect for the genre’s history while at the same time they’ve forged their own paths.
Although the inductees may not have collaborated with one another, they have it in common that they all originally come from North Carolina. The inductee in the Non-Performer category, Fred Foster, who was born on a farm in Rutherford County, N.C., was instrumental in starting the careers of Dolly Parton (released her first album producing the hits “Dumb Blonde” and “Something Fishy”), Roy Orbison and Kris Kristofferson. In Foster’s speech, he gratefully said “I’ve always been a big dreamer, but this is too big.” Brenda Lee revised his statement with “Today is not a dream, it is called validation.” Next to be validated for his work at the announcement ceremony was Charlie Daniels, an artist originating from Wilmington, N.C., who despite being honored in the Veteran’s Era category, is in full swing with no plans to retire. He is neither slowing down: still touring with 100 concert dates per year in his prime years of being 79 years young. His first utterance as he eased in behind the microphone was “I am flabbergasted.” The “Devil Went Down To Georgia” true Southern country rocker started out in his own bluegrass band transitioning to his unique rowdy country style through rock ‘n’ roll and R & B even having a song of his recorded by Elvis. Charlie was touched by the moment in the revered Hall of Fame’s Rotunda saying his thank you’s with a slight tremble in his voice. Touching is also an understatement describing the introduction and acceptance speech held for former North Carolina Marshvillian Randy Travis. Ms. Lee could not hold her tears back and neither could many of the attendees when she spoke about Travis’s remarkable journey through his life and his recent miraculous recovery after a lengthy hospitalization due to a heart condition and on top of that suffering a stroke. As miraculous as Randy Travis’s recovery is, is also his career. His wife Mary Davis-Travis was his voice during the ceremony and conveyed stories that Travis had told her. One of when he and his brother Ricky started out performing, but Ricky chose not to sing. That was the starting point for the Randy Travis we know and have come to love. “Forever And Ever” and “1982”, “Digging Up Bones”, “On The Other Hand” and “Three Wooden Crosses” – his legacy and Fred Foster’s and Charlie Daniels’s are now going to be remembered forever along with the living and breathing soul of country music already well represented with plaques in the Rotunda.
Shelley Ridge for Country Music News International Magazine
Foot note: The inductees will become official members of the Country Music Hall of Fame in a Medallion Ceremony later this year.