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Dean, Husky, Sherrill, Williams make Country Music Hall of Fame

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 – Singers Jimmy Dean, Ferlin Husky and Don Williams and producer Billy Sherrill will become the newest members of the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame, it was announced Wednesday.

Due to a tie in the voting, both Dean and Husky will be inducted in the "Veterans Era Artist" category. Williams will be inducted in the "Modern Era Artist" category. Sherrill will be inducted in the "Non-Performer" category, which is awarded every third year in a rotation.

Sherrill was best known as a producer, particularly for Tammy Wynette and George Jones.

Dean, Husky, Sherrill, and Williams will increase membership in the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame from 108 to 112 inductees.

"These four gentlemen broadened country music immensely with their talents, exposing millions of fans around the world to our format," said Steve Moore, Chairman of the CMA Board of Directors. "Their contributions to the genre and to popular culture are immeasurable, and we are proud to award them the highest honor in country music."

The four will be inducted at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum later this year. Since 2007, the Museum's Medallion Ceremony, an annual reunion of the Hall of Fame membership, has served as the official rite of induction for new members.

"The 2010 honorees are Southern men who have used their voices, songwriting, instruments and life experience to create enduring country music that dominated popularity charts throughout the middle and closing decades of the 20th Century," said Museum Director Kyle Young. "Their songs, recordings, live performances, and presence on radio, television, and even in the movies, are part of the sonic architecture that now frames our music in the mainstream. We extend our heartiest congratulations to them all and look forward to the stories and fellowship to come."

"I thought I was already in there," said Dean joking. "Seriously, it brought a huge grin to my face. I am honored."

An emotional Husky said, "I'd like to thank my Lord Jesus Christ for dying for me, saving my soul, and bringing me into the world as a country boy. And also, for giving me the talent to sing, entertain, and help convert millions around the world to country music. I'm still a country boy and proud of it. In the words of my close friend, the late Stringbean, 'I sure am glad I'm me!'"

"Anything I have ever accomplished would have been totally impossible without the help and support of the greatest songwriters and musicians in the world, and, of course, what I stole from Owen Bradley," said Sherrill.

"I feel extremely honored and overwhelmed with this news," said Williams. "It is unbelievable that CMA thought about me in this manner."

The CMA created the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 to recognize individuals for their outstanding contributions to the format. The categories and voting process were updated in 2009, taking effect with the 2010 ballot. The current categories are:

Modern Era - An artist becomes eligible for induction in this category 20 years after they first achieve national prominence. They will remain eligible for that category for the next 25 years. [This replaced the former "Career Achieved National Prominence Between 1975 and the Present" category].

Veterans Era - An artist becomes eligible for induction in this category 45 years after they first achieve national prominence. [This category combined the former "Career Achieved National Prominence between World War II and 1975" category (which was voted on annually) and "Career Achieved National Prominence Prior to World War II" sub-category (which was voted on every third year in rotation) into one group].

Rotating Categories - The third slot is a rotating category, with each group in the spotlight every third year. The three rotating categories are Non-Performer, Songwriter, and Recording and/or Touring Musician. [The Songwriter category was created in the 2009 update, and will induct its first member in 2011. Previously, songwriters were included in the Non-Performer category].

The Veterans Era and Modern Era categories have separate Nominating Committees, each made up of 12 industry leaders who serve three-year terms. The Modern Era Nominating Committee also oversees the Rotating Categories. Final nominations are then submitted to two separate Panels of Electors, made up of historians and industry professionals that have a historical perspective on country. One Panel votes for both the Modern Era and the Rotating Categories, while a second Panel votes for the Veterans Era category. Both Panels are updated annually by the CMA Awards and Recognition Committee. Individuals can serve on both panels. All panelists remain anonymous.

Billy Sherrill
Sherrill was born Nov. 5, 1936 in Phil Campbell, Ala. Although he was briefly signed as a solo artist to a small independent label in the late '50s, he mainly concentrated on performing and songwriting. Sherrill co-wrote Sweet and Innocent (which would later be a hit for Donny Osmond) with his bandmate Rick Hall.

Sherrill moved to Nashville in 1962 after receiving a royalty check in the mail and learning that an unknown country artist had recorded one of his songs. Sam Phillips hired Sherrill to manage Sun Records' Nashville studios. One year later, Sherrill moved on to Epic Records Nashville as an in-house producer and was assigned to record any artist that the label's other producers had already rejected. He created his own production style based on his gospel music background and the influences of producers such as Owen Bradley and Phil Spector. In doing this, he broadened the Nashville sound of the 1950s by adding a modern, sophisticated sensibility while often using a generous amount of strings and background vocals. He also wrote or co-wrote songs to match the style of the artists he produced.

In 1965, he achieved his first big success when David Houston hit number 3 with the Sherrill-produced Livin' in a House Full of Love (co-written by Sherrill and Glenn Sutton). One year later, Sherrill produced Houston's hit (also co-written by Sherrill and Sutton) which spent 9 weeks at number 1 and was recognized with 3 Grammy Awards in 1966: Best Country & Western Song (for Sherrill and Sutton); Best Country & Western Recording and Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Male (both for Houston). The song soon became a standard and was recorded more than 100 times by artists as diverse as Louis Armstrong, Merle Haggard and Etta James.

In 1966, Sherrill discovered the woman who would later be known as the First Lady of Country Music when a hairdresser named Wynette Byrd knocked on his door and asked for an audition. Sherrill soon signed the singer and, inspired by the Debbie Reynolds movie "Tammy and the Bachelor," suggested she change her name to Tammy Wynette. Under Sherrill's production, Wynette's first single Apartment Number 9 was released in December 1966 and peaked at number 44. Her second single, Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad (a Sherrill/Sutton composition), reached number 3 and launched a string of Top 10 hits.

Sherrill brought Wynette's then-husband George Jones to Epic in 1971, and produced his solo albums for nearly two decades. Sherrill produced such solo Jones hits as We Can Make It, A Picture of Me (Without You), The Grand Tour, These Days I Barely Get By, Memories of Us, Same Ol Me, If Drinkin' Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will), Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes and what some consider the greatest song of all time, He Stopped Loving Her Today.

He also produced the Jones/Wynette duet projects, beginning with their first hit Take Me. The couple would record together off and on through 1980, even after their 1975 divorce, delivering such Sherrill-produced classics as The Ceremony, We're Gonna Hold On, (We're Not) The Jet Set Golden Ring and Two Story House.

Sherrill signed Charlie Rich to Epic in 1968. In 1973, they had a huge hit with "Behind Closed Doors."

Sherrill signed Barbara Mandrell to Columbia Records in 1968. He produced and wrote many of her early hits, including her first Top 40 single Playing Around with Love, before she left the label 4 years later.

Throughout the '70s, he either produced, wrote songs (or both) for a wide variety of artists including Johnny Cash, David Allan Coe, Janie Fricke, Johnny Paycheck, Marty Robbins, Johnny Rodriguez, Joe Stampley, Tanya Tucker, Bobby Vinton and Andy Williams.

In 1980, he was named Vice President/Executive Producer of CBS Records Nashville (the parent company of Epic and Columbia). He produced Elvis Costello's Country album, "Almost Blue," in 1981. Three years later, he produced Ray Charles' "Friendship," which featured Charles performing duets with Chet Atkins, Cash, Jones, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, the Oak Ridge Boys, Hank Williams Jr. and others. After leaving CBS, Sherrill continued as an independent producer. He introduced the world to Shelby Lynne by producing both her 1988 duet with Jones on If I Could Bottle This Up as well as her first album, "Sunrise," in 1989.

Jimmy Dean
Dean was born in Olton, Texas on Aug. 10, 1928. Dropping out of high school at age 16, Dean joined the Merchant Marines for two years before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force. Stationed at a base in Washington D.C., Dean first performed publicly with a band called the Tennessee Haymakers at clubs around the area. He remained in the area after he left the Air Force in 1948 and created a new band called the Texas Wildcats, which performed both in clubs and on WARL Radio in Arlington, Va. In 1952, Dean toured the U.S. military bases in the Carribbean before returning to Washington, D.C. to record his first single for Four Star Records. Bummin' Around was released in 1952 and hit number 5 on the country singles chart. Broadcast pioneer Connie B. Gay offered Dean the opportunity to host "Town and Country Time," a three-hour weekly television show broadcast every Saturday night on the local ABC affiliate, WMAL-TV. Patsy Cline and Roy Clark were among the artists who regularly appeared on the show. Dean was later hired away to Washington D.C.'s CBS affiliate to host a live country show. In 1957, he moved to New York, signed with Columbia Records, and hosted "The Morning Show," an early morning television variety show for CBS.

In 1961, Dean wrote and recorded his signature song Big Bad John in Nashville. The song, which established his flair for spoken narratives, went to number one on both the country and pop singles charts. Dean and the song received the 1961 Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording. Additional popular singles followed in the next few years. Dear Ivan, Little Black Book and P.T. 109 (about John F. Kennedy's military adventure) all reached the Top 10 on the country singles charts.

During the early '60s, Dean became the first guest host of "The Tonight Show" for NBC Television. From 1963-1966, "The Jimmy Dean Show" aired on ABC Television, and its host earned the nickname "The Dean of Country Music." This variety show regularly featured country artists as guests, introducing George Jones, Roger Miller, Buck Owens and Charlie Rich.

In 1966, Dean signed with RCA Records and placed Stand Beside Me in the country Top 10 that year. Additional hits followed, including A Thing Called Love, Born to Be by Your Side and A Hammer and Nails. His final hit was in 1976 with I.O.U., a narrative tribute honoring his mother that reached the Top 10 on the country charts.

During the late '60s, Dean bought a Texas hog farm and transforming it into the Jimmy Dean Meat Co. in 1969. While he continued to record and act during the '70s and '80s, he spent much of his time on this new business as his sausage recipes, inspired by his grandfather, achieved mass popularity. The company soon became the most successful sausage company in America. Sara Lee Corp. acquired the company in 1984, but Dean continued to be company spokesperson and chairman of the board for nearly 20 years.

Ferlin Husky
Husky was born Dec. 3, 1925 in Cantwell, Mo., and raised on a farm, Husky learned to play guitar as a child from his uncle. He later moved to St. Louis and worked odd jobs. From 1943-1948, he served in the Merchant Marines, U.S. Army, and Coast Guard. During this time he fought under more than 48 hours of gunfire during the D-Day invasion of Normandy at Cherbourg in June 1944. During his time in the military, he occasionally entertained the troops on his ship.

After the war ended, Husky returned to St. Louis and worked in radio alongside Gene Autry's sidekick, Smiley Burnett. He moved to California in 1949 and acted in some bit parts in several western movies before settling in Bakersfield where he worked as a radio disc jockey. Changing his name first to Tex Terry and then to Terry Preston, he signed with Four Star Records in 1950. Although he had little success at Four Star, he did meet Cliffie Stone, a performer who also managed Tennessee Ernie Ford, served as an A&R executive at Capitol Records, and hosted the "Hometown Jamboree" radio and television show each Saturday night on KXLA Radio/Pasadena and KTLA-TV (Los Angeles).

Stone signed Husky to Capitol with Ken Nelson as his producer. Although his first few singles were released under the Preston name, Husky soon reverted back to his birth name under Nelson's urging. He soon moved to Springfield, Mo. where he performed often on the Ozark Jubilee. In 1952, he moved to Nashville to be closer to the country industry and became a frequent guest performer on the Grand Ole Opry.

In 1953, Husky performed a recitation in the song A Dear John Letter sung by Jean Shepard. The song went to number one on Billboard's Country singles chart and number four on Billboard's pop singles chart, launching both artists' careers. The duo reunited later that year for the follow up answer song, Forgive Me John, which went Top 10. In 1955, Husky returned to the Top 10 with I Feel Better All Over and Little Tom and achieved a Top 20 hit with I'll Babysit with You. He also had a number 5 hit, Cuzz Yore So Sweet, under his comic alter-ego name Simon Crum.

Husky topped the Billboard Country singles chart for 10 weeks in 1957 with Gone. The song also reached number four on the Billboard pop singles chart. A year later, he had a number 2 hit as Crum with "Country Music is Here to Stay. Back as himself in 1960, Husky released his signature hit, Wings of a Dove, which was once again number 1 on the Billboard Country singles chart for 10 weeks and reached number 12 on the Billboard pop singles chart. He hit number 4 on the Country singles chart in 1966 with Once and had his final Top 10 hit in 1967 with Just for You. Husky remained on Capitol Records until 1972. He then signed with ABC, remaining with them through 1975. His last Top 20 hit was "Rosie Cries a Lot in 1973.

In 1957, Husky branched out into acting, beginning with a role on an episode of "Kraft TV Theater" and an appearance as himself in the film "Mr Rock & Roll." One year later, he acted in the movie "Country Music Holiday." After a few years break, Husky returned to the movies in 1965, appearing as himself in "Country Music on Broadway" and acting as Crum in "Forty Acre Feud." He portrayed the character Woody in "The Las Vegas Hillbillys" (1966) and "Hillbillys in a Haunted House" (1967). His last film role was in "Swamp Girl" (1971).

In 1960, Husky was among the first country artists inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Throughout his career, he toured in more than 62 countries. In 2005 at the age of 80, he released the album "The Way It Was (Is the Way It Is)", featuring both old and new material, on the Heart of Texas record label.

Don Williams

Williams, known as "The Gentle Giant" was born May 27, 1939 in Floydada, Texas. He learned guitar from his mother during his childhood and performed in a variety of country, folk, and rock bands during his teen years.

Living in Corpus Christi after high school, he partnered with Lofton Kline to form a musical duo called The Strangers Two. In 1965, they added Susan Taylor to the group and renamed themselves the Pozo-Seco Singers. The folk-pop group signed with Edmark Records, a local record label, and had a regional hit with their single Time. Columbia Records then signed the group in 1966 and re-released the song nationally where it charted in the Top 50 on the pop charts. After four albums, the group splie in 1970.

Williams moved to Nashville and signed as a songwriter with Jack Music, Inc. owned by producer/publisher Jack Clement. In 1972, Williams signed with JMI as a solo artist. His second single, The Shelter of Your Eyes, reached number 14 on the country singles chart in 1973. He released a few more singles to varying degrees of success before hitting number 5 with We Should Be Together in 1974. That led to a recording deal with ABC/Dot Records. His debut single, I Wouldn't Want to Live If You Didn't Love Me, hit number 1 in 1974. topped the Country singles chart in the summer of 1974.

During the decade, he scored number ones with You're My Best Friend, Love Me Tonight, Till the Rivers All Run Dry (which he co-wrote with Wayland Holyfield), Say It Again, Some Broken Hearts Never Mend, I'm Just a Country Boy, Tulsa Time, It Must Be Love and Love Me Over Again (written by Williams). He gained a big following in the United Kingdom and Europe. He was named CMA Male Vocalist of the Year in 1978. Williams also appeared in movies such as "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings," and "Smokey and the Bandit II."

In 1980, Williams released his most successful single I Believe in You, which topped the country singles chart and reached number 24 on the pop singles chart. In 1981, he had 2 more number 1 singles (Lord, I Hope This Day is Good and Miracles); a number 3 duet with Emmylou Harris on If I Needed You; and the CMA Album of the Year Award for "I Believe In You." Additional number 1 singles in the '80s included If Hollywood Don't Need You, Love is On a Roll, That's the Thing About Love and Heartbeat in the Darkness. He switched labels, moving from MCA (which had acquired ABC/Dot) to Capitol in 1986, and then to RCA in 1989. His last Top 10 single was in 1992 with Lord Have Mercy on a Country Boy.

Williams announced his "Farewell Tour to the World" in early 2006 and performed around the globe before wrapping up with his sold-out, final concert in Memphis, Tenn. at the Cannon Center for Performing Arts on Nov. 21, 2006. He then retired from live performing, recording and public life.

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Reflections CD review - Reflections
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So It Goes CD review - So It Goes
Don Williams is among the country artists who have been as steady and consistent as they come. Now at the tender age of 73, Williams' bass-baritone timbre hasn't been ravaged one bit by Father Time. This latest album - his first since 2004 - is no exception with Williams offering up "Better Than Today" in a true, toe-tapping country style. From there, the singer slows the album down for a ballad Heart Of Hearts that has just the right combination of grace and musicianship. »»»
My Heart To You
Don Williams made some of the best country music records of the 1980s, like, "Good Old Boys Like Me." His understated charms seem to have been lost in the shuffle when one considers the names brought up as classic singers - Jones, Haggard, Gosdin...but not the man once dubbed the, "Gentle Giant," for his tall stature and mellow voice. Williams has never really stopped recording new material, though his hit-making Nashville days are behind him. This latest disc has some songs that should hold up »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: The Lil Smokies provide the perfect antidote – On a night when the world to be falling further apart thanks to coronavirus (this would be the night the NBA postponed the season), there stood The Lil Smokies to at least in some small measure save the day. The quintet is part of a generation of musicians with bluegrass as the basis, but not totally the sum of the music either.... »»»
Concert Review: White makes the case for himself, no matter how dark the music – John Paul White opined with a glint in his eyes that his songs were not of the uplifting variety. In fact, they were downright dark. How else to explain "The Long Way" with the line "long way home back to you." Or "James," a song inspired by his grandfather who suffered from dementia. But lest you think that the Alabama... »»»
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