Bobby Karl Works The NATD Honors Banquet

BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM

 Chapter 476

Pictured (L-R): Tim Corbin, Rob Beckham, Charlie Daniels, Demetria Kalodimos, Michael W. Smith, Gov. Bill Haslam. Photo: Jason Davis / Getty Images for NATD

Pictured (L-R): Tim Corbin, Rob Beckham, Charlie Daniels, Demetria Kalodimos, Michael W. Smith, Gov. Bill Haslam. Photo: Jason Davis / Getty Images for NATD

All intimate music-industry galas should be held at the elegantly gorgeous Hermitage Hotel.

“Welcome to the beautiful NATD living room, for the evening,” greeted Nashville Association of Talent Directors president Steve Tolman. The 50-year-old organization staged its fourth annual Honors Banquet at the Hermitage on Tuesday night (Nov. 11).

The hotel is a landmark, beaux-arts architectural monument, opened in 1910. The NATD’s cocktail hour was held in the building’s opulent lobby. Awesome, two-story, light-blue archways embellished with polychromed medallions support the stained-glass ceiling. Heavy brocade drapes and tapestry wall hangings are staged between veined white marble columns.

The ballroom hosted dinner for 150. The gold-and-white coffered ceiling panels soar above chocolate-toned wood walls with hand-carved accents. These are hung with portraits of Tennessee-bred U.S. presidents Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk and Andrew Johnson as well as with sublime landscape oils. The room’s stunning, antique-bronze chandeliers with multiple teardrop-glass globes are beyond sumptuous.

This year’s honorees were Gov. Bill Haslam, pop/CCM star Michael W. Smith, WSMV news anchor and filmmaker Demetria Kalodimos, Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin, manager and producer J. P. Williams, William Morris Endeavors honcho Rob Beckham and country, rock and Opry star Charlie Daniels. WKRN’s Stephanie Langston hosted.

“I’m too young to get this,” protested Beckham before the banquet. “Yes, you are,” I agreed. He is, however, more than deserving. Beckham recalled coming from the world of rock promotion in the Pacific Northwest. His first country concert as a promoter was Randy Travis, followed by The Judds and Reba McEntire. They all sold out. So he stuck around.

“We are living the dream,” said Michael W. Smith. He recalled working as a waiter and for Coca-Cola before Amy Grant hired him for her band and changed his life forever. Chaz Corzine, Greg Ham and John Huie presented his honor.

Kalodimos got her statuette from venerable Country Music Hall of Fame member Jimmy Dickens, who turns 93 next month. “It doesn’t get any better than this,” she said.

Bebe Evans presented Charlie Daniels with his award. C.T. Wyatt did the honors for J.P. Williams. Chip Esten, ”Deacon” on TV’s Nashville, saluted Haslam.

“I have made this my home,” said Esten. “My family moved here one-and-a-half years ago. And we sold our home in L.A. last week. We [the show’s cast] are fans not only of the city of Nashville, but of the whole state….I appreciate the support of the Governor so much.”

“My kids are totally unimpressed that I am the governor,” said Haslam. “But they are totally impressed with the fact that I know Chip…The people in this room make our job easier,” he added, referring to the fact that the glamor of the entertainment industry helps lure other businesses to the state.

Industry mavens working the room included Ray Shelide, Bonnie Sugarman, Paula Szeigis, Dean Unkefer, Randi Perkins with The Voice TV contestant and niece Kat Perkins, Rod Essig, Bob Romeo, Kate Richardson, Preshus Tomes, Debbie Moore & Carrie Moore-Reed (that’s twin singing sisters Moore & Moore, to you), Ree Guyer Buchanan, Tinti Moffatt, David & Carolyn Corlew, Verlon Thompson (who is working on a new solo album), Steve Lassiter, Holly Ashby, Kirt Webster and the Rev. Joseph Patrick Breen, who delivered the Veterans-Day themed invocation.

NATD founding member Tandy Rice, who was kidded for looking like Santa Claus, was named the first inductee into the organization’s Hall of Fame.

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