Bobby Karl Works The Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM

Chapter 471

Pictured (L-R): CMA's Sarah Trahern, Suzi Cochran, Mac Wiseman, ??, and Ronnie MIlsap.

Pictured (L-R): CMA’s Sarah Trahern, Suzi Cochran, Mac Wiseman, Country Music Hall of Fame’s Kyle Young, and Ronnie Milsap.

You know you’re in for a grand event when the first person you meet in the lobby is serene goddess Emmylou Harris.

And the second person you see is the awesome Bill Anderson at the cocktail reception. They weren’t the only Country Music Hall of Fame members in attendance. Before the gig even began, we spotted Charley Pride, Brenda Lee, Harold Bradley, Randy Owen of Alabama, E.W. “Bud” Wendell, Bobby Bare, Ray Walker and Curtis Young of The Jordanaires, Charlie McCoy, Vince Gill, Ralph Emery and Jo Walker-Meador.

“It’s important that we show up,” said Brenda. That’s because the event in question was the Medallion Ceremony that officially installed the 2014 inductees into the Country Music Hall of Fame — Mac Wiseman, Ronnie Milsap and the late Hank Cochran.

Staged Sunday evening (Oct. 26) at various venues within the Hall of Fame, the Medallion Ceremony maintained its reputation as one of the finest musical evenings on the entertainment industry’s annual calendar. Champagne cocktails and mucho mingling occurred in the Conservatory. Then the actual ceremony took place in the CMA Theater. The cocktail supper afterward was in the new event space, plus its lobby and terrace, on the sixth floor of the museum’s recent addition.

As is customary, the ceremony began with an audio selection from the museum’s Bob Pinson Recorded Sound Collection. This was Clifton Chenier’s “Bogalusa Boogie.”

Kyle Young welcomes attendees to the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction ceremony. Photo: Terry Wyatt

Kyle Young welcomes attendees to the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction ceremony. Photo: Terry Wyatt

“Clifton was presented with a well-deserved Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year,” observed Hall of Fame director & CEO Kyle Young. He referred to inductees Mac, Ronnie and Hank as “three great Americans who have made country-music history.”

Chairman of the Board Steve Turner noted that the Hall of Fame was created and is elected by the CMA: “That’s why it is more than appropriate that this ceremony take place here in the CMA Theater, made possible by a $10 million gift from the Country Music Association.”

The CMA’s Sarah Trahern praised each 2014 inductee. “Hank Cochran’s songs have been recorded by everyone from Burl Ives to Etta James, George Strait to Ella Fitzgerald,” she said. “Mac Wiseman is a revered figure in the world of bluegrass and a founding Board member of the Country Music Association. Ronnie Milsap is an incredibly gifted pianist and performer who is also one of the most successful and versatile [pop] crossover artists in our genre.”

The video segment introducing Mac Wiseman featured him performing “Love Letters in the Sand,” “We Live in Two Different Worlds” and “Keep on the Sunny Side.”

“I was influenced by people like Bradley Kincaid and The Carter Family, but I never dreamed I’d be in this business,” said Mac in the video. “I’ve recorded over 800 songs,” he added, including ones his mother left him in 13 notebooks of transcribed lyrics from old-time radio shows. Some of these appear on his new CD Songs From My Mother’s Hand. This album marks his seventh decade of releasing records. “I feel like I’ve left my mark, a little.”

“He is known as ‘The Voice With a Heart,’” commented Kyle. “Hard to imagine a more accurate nickname. His dulcet-toned, expressive vocal does more than deliver a song well – it invites the listeners to feel the emotion in the lyrics.” Before launching his solo career, Mac performed with such greats as Molly O’Day, Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Monroe.

Jim Lauderdale saluted the honoree with a spirited version of 1951’s “Goin’ Like Wildfire.” Charlie Daniels recalled being a boyhood fan of Mac’s music and sang 1958’s “Jimmy Brown the Newsboy.” One of Mac’s “signature” performances is his sweet, tenor delivery of 1957’s “Tis Sweet to Be Remembered.” Vince Gill’s sweet tenor did the honors on that one.

“It’s an honor to sing a great song for a great man,” said Vince. Mac was officially inducted by Jo Walker-Meador. “I just feel so blessed and so honored that Mac would want me to speak about him tonight,” she said. “He was invaluable to me in the early days, because when I went to work for the CMA, I knew nothing about country music and its artists….He was a giver, but never a taker.”

“I’ve tried to be true to myself and give back as much as I could,” said Mac. “I could never give back as much as this business has given me.” He added, “I’m almost spellbound….This means more to me than anything that has happened in my musical career.”

Suzi Cochran and Bobby Bare induct the late Hank Cochran at the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Photo: Donn Jones

Suzi Cochran and Bobby Bare induct the late Hank Cochran at the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Photo: Donn Jones

The video tribute to the late Hank Cochran (1935-2010) included footage of him singing “All of Me Belongs to You,” “That’s All That Matters to Me” and “I Don’t Do Windows.”

“Hank Cochran helped create the template for the professional Nashville songwriter,” said Kyle. “He helped establish the city as a songwriting mecca.”

In his honor, Alison Krauss sang stunning renditions of “Make the World Go Away” and “Don’t Touch Me.” She received a standing ovation. So did the sublimely country vocal master Gene Watson, who delivered a breathtaking “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me.”

Bobby Bare inducted the songwriter. “Hank Cochran was an icon,” Bobby said. “He was a great songwriter and a great friend….Hank could feel things that nobody else could feel. He wasn’t afraid to let the world know how he felt.”

Widow Suzi Cochran accepted the Medallion from Bobby. “It breaks my heart that it’s me standing here and not Hank,” she said. “Hank was a dreamer, as are most songwriters, and he was blessed to have many of his dreams come true during his lifetime….One, of course, was to become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.”

Ronnie Milsap is inducted at the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Photo: Donn Jones

Ronnie Milsap is inducted at the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Photo: Donn Jones

The Ronnie Milsap video featured him performing “What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life,” “(I’m A) Stand By My Woman Man,” “Stranger in My House” and a duet with Ray Charles on “Hey Good Lookin.’” Kyle noted Ronnie’s pop and R&B influences and stated, “Nashville and country music gave his diverse talents a home. He scored 49 top-10 hits between 1973 and 1991.” Like Mac Wiseman, Ronnie continues to make new music, including the recent CD Summer Number Seventeen.

Sam Moore, formerly of Sam & Dave took the stage and recalled that he first encountered Ronnie opening for the duo in a black club in Washington D.C.– “He’s white boy in a colored theater! He ain’t gonna make it! When he got through singing, I had slosh in my shoe, and I couldn’t find Dave!”

“This is where I come in,” quipped Vince Gill. “We have a new duo. We just got signed – Sam & A Lighter Shade of Dave.” The two drew a standing ovation for “Lost in the Fifties Tonight.” Then Hunter Hayes sang and played dazzling guitar on “(There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me.” Ronnie’s next-door neighbor Martina McBride performed a thrilling “(I’d Be) A Legend in My Time,” ranging from the lowest notes of the song’s bridge to its shimmering-soprano climax.

Charlie Daniels, EmmyLou Harris, Brenda Lee, and Vince Gill backstage at the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Photo: Terry Wyatt

Charlie Daniels, EmmyLou Harris, Brenda Lee, and Vince Gill backstage at the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Photo: Terry Wyatt

Reba McEntire was scheduled to induct Ronnie. But her father, Clark McEntire, died on Thursday (Oct. 23), so Brenda Lee stepped into the breach. “It’s always an honor when I can be here,” said Brenda. “Every year, it gets sweeter and sweeter.” She recalled manager Jack D. Johnson asking her in the early 1970s to go see the genre-defying Ronnie perform at the King of the Road motor inn in East Nashville. Afterward, “I said, ‘I don’t know what you can do with him, but don’t let him get away.’

“It is my privilege to welcome Ronnie Milsap into the hallowed Country Music Hall of Fame. I’m comin’ over there [to the other side of the stage] with this medal, and you better bend over.” He did, to accommodate the diminutive Brenda. She hung the medallion around his neck and kissed him.

“To be inducted by the great Brenda Lee: This is as good as it gets,” Ronnie exclaimed. He praised his wife, Joyce Milsap, who drove him from club to club in their struggling days. “We were living in Memphis, and Joyce said, ‘We’re going to move to Nashville.’ I said, ‘Why? We’re doing pretty good here.’

Sam Moore and Vince Gill perform at the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Photo: Donn Jones

Sam Moore and Vince Gill perform at the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Photo: Donn Jones

“I love y’all, and thank you so much for having me in the Country Music Hall of Fame. I love you. Thank you.”

Ronnie sat at the piano and led all the evening’s performers — plus The Bethel UMC Chancel Choir — through his downbeat blues arrangement of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” Thus, this year’s finale was a whole new kind of train wreck.

Among those not trying to sing along were David Briggs, David McCormick, David Ross, David Crow, David Conrad, Dave Pomeroy, David Anderson, Dan Rogers, Dan Hayes, John Lomax III, Jon Freeman, John Grady, Rob Galbraith, Rob Beckham, Tom Corley, Tom Roland, Tom Collins, Pat Collins, Jody Maphis and Rose Lee Maphis.

Nashville’s songwriting community was well represented by Mike Reid, Gretchen Peters, Tony Arata, Dallas Frazier, Wynn Varble, Sandy Knox and Norro Wilson. From the Americana world came Paul Burch, Kim Richey, Chuck Mead & Brenda Colladay, Erin Enderlin, Billy Burnette, Bobby Bare Jr. and James House. Representing the Grand Ole Opry were Jeannie Seely, Stonewall Jackson, Jan Howard, Keith Bilbrey, Jimmy Capps and Eddie Stubbs.

The post-show cocktail supper upstairs featured roast-beef carving stations, squash and/or mushroom ravioli, green salad, mahi-mahi filets, gnocchi, asparagus spears and more. The desert table had truffles, lime mousse, chocolate fondue and fruit.

Gene Watson performs at the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Photo: Donn Jones

Gene Watson performs at the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Photo: Donn Jones

I don’t know if they ate or not, but other music-biz attendees included Fred Foster, Dale Dodson, Les Leverett, Mike Milom, Margie McGahey, Martha Moore, Paul Moore and the colorful mix of Jed Hilly, Jewly Hight, Hunter Kelly, Terry Smith & Nancy Cardwell, Kyle Lehning, Nina Miller, Lori Badgett, Ron Cox, Lisa Harless, Ed Salamon, Frank Bumstead, Lane Brody, Katie Gillon, Chris Horsnell, Joe Galante, Buddy Cannon, Heath Owen, Susan Nadler, Brian Mansfield, Melanie Howard, Tony Conway, Jerry & Connie Bradley, Charlie Cook, Barry Mazor, Anita Hogin and Kevin Lamb.

This gig is so prestigious, that many attended from the “civilian” world. These included Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Francis Guess, Kent Oliver, Donna & Gerald Nicely, Jerry Williams, Seab Tuck, Bill Denny and Adam Dread.

Alison Krauss performs at the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Photo: Terry Wyatt

Alison Krauss performs at the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Photo: Terry Wyatt

I cannot close without mentioning the great Bill Cody, who once again emceed the red-carpet arrivals. Nor without citing the Medallion All-Star Band. This year, that was musical director John Hobbs, plus Paul Franklin, Deanie Richardson, Steve Gibson, Biff Watson, Eddie Bayers, Michael Rhodes, Laura Weber Cash, Jeff White and Mark Douthit. “We couldn’t do it without them,” quoth Kyle Young. Amen.

Hunter Hayes performs at the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – photo by Donn Jones1

Hunter Hayes performs at the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Photo: Donn Jones

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