BOBBY KARL WORKS THE ROOM
We headed for Walk of Fame Park on Wednesday afternoon (9/10) for the unveiling of two new stars in its Walkway, and got three instead.
Star #64 was presented to Trisha Yearwood. Star #65 went to Garth Brooks. The surprise of the afternoon was that Star #66 was given to “The Music Mayor,” Karl Dean.
“Mayor Dean made the world know how great Nashville was,” said Trisha. “Everybody wants to be here, and it’s because of you”
“For all that you’ve done for Nashville, let Nashville do something for you,” said Garth. “You are the newest star on the Walk of Fame!”
“I am not often surprised, but I AM surprised,” said Mayor Dean. “Music is so important to Nashville….The fundamental thing about Nashville that’s so cool is the creative people. Cities thrive on creative people. Other cities would die to have what we have. It has been an honor to be the Mayor of Nashville.”
Bill Cody ably hosted this 15th Walk of Fame ceremony. Ken Levitan inducted Trisha into the Walkway. He cited her 12 million in sales, three best-selling cookbooks, 1999 Grand Ole Opry cast induction, upcoming furniture collection and six seasons of her Emmy-winning Food Network TV series Trisha’s Southern Kitchen.
“I moved to town in 1985,” she recalled. “I wanted it [singing renown] more than anything in the world. It’s very surreal to have gone from moving here and driving up and down 16th and 17th Avenues, being a tour guide [at the Country Music Hall of Fame, as well as being the receptionist at MTM Records]…. to standing here — This is very emotional and really, really special.
“This is a very special city. If you want to catch a glimpse of me, just come down here, where I’ll be standing on it every day, to make sure it’s still here.”
“To see that star, that is forever,” she added later. “It will be here long after I’m not.”
Allen Reynolds did the honors for Garth. “I know he’s a famous person, but he is also one of the best human beings I’ve known in my life,” said Allen of the superstar whose records he produced. “He’s been so gracious to everybody around him. He is kind, consistent, compassionate and generous.
“Nashville is lucky to have him as a friend and a neighbor.”
“What I love about this place is that it is the home of the dreamers,” said Garth of Music City. “I cannot thank Nashville enough for giving me a second home. It is the home and the protector and the haven of the songwriters.”
Karl Dean and Ed Hardy surprised Garth with the presentation of the Music City Ambassador Award. “He has carried the Nashville message around the world,” said the Mayor. He also reminded the crowd of the nine concerts that Garth did for the Community Foundation’s flood relief fund. They raised $4 million.
“You have been a model of giving back. Your random acts of kindness have impacted thousands in this community.”
“Taking this music around the world has been a joy,” said Garth. “Be proud that it’s country music you’re taking around the world.” He added that because of his current concert trek, “The No. 1 tour in the world is under the flag of country music.”
Ed Hardy presented Mayor Dean with a custom-designed, 18-carat gold pin in the shape of a musical note, embedded with a diamond. “Music has a $10 billion impact on Nashville. He was the first mayor to ever recognize that. You understood the importance and value of our music industry. Thank you for all that you’ve done.”
More than 1,000 fans surrounded the site, cheering as Garth and Trisha waved and posed for snapshots. After admiring each others’ stars in the Walkway, they talked to the press corps.
“I was shocked to hear that we’re the first husband and wife to be inducted together,” Trisha remarked. “That makes it so much sweeter. Being on the same piece of pavement with this man is an honor as an artist and a wife.”
When Loretta Lynn’s star, “is right next to you, that’s when you know you’ve made it,” added Garth. “And we went in with ‘The Elvis Presley Mayor,’ a rock star who can also balance a budget.”
Mayor Dean steps down in a couple of weeks. Trisha asked him what’s next. He responded, “My plan on leaving office is to take a vacation, teach at Belmont and stay involved with the community. I love Nashville, and I’ll never leave.”
Guitarist David Anderson serenaded the crowd before the stars arrived and provided instrumental versions of their hits in between the speeches and presentations.
Terry Bulger, Terry Bumgarner, Kerry O’Neil, Kent Oliver, Bob Doyle, Bobby Wood, Joe Galante, Joe Mansfield, Storme Warren, Preshias Tomes, Rusty Jones, Randy Goodman, Jason Moon Wilkins, Cindy Watts, Hunter Kelly, Bruce Bouton, Bill Catino, Ken Robold, Mike Bohan, Butch Spyridon and Sally Williams worked the room.
So did Megan Barry, campaigning to succeed Dean as Mayor of Nashville. As it happened, the event occurred on Election Day.
“Megan’s got a couple of things going on today, so bear with her,” kidded Karl.
At 9:10 p.m. that night, Megan Barry took to the podium to deliver her victory speech as she handily won the election to become the first female mayor in Nashville history. At a party at the Farmer’s Market attended by hundreds, she said, “I need you to help me write the next chapter in Nashville’s story….I cannot do this without all of you.”
Like Mayor Dean, mayor-elect Barry is a graduate of Leadership Music. She added, “This story is going to be written by the artists, the musicians, the entertainers who inspire all of us. These creatives need a mayor who is going to support the artistic community and make sure that Nashville stays affordable.”
She was cheered by business folks like Ron Samuels, Saralee & Larry Woods, Michael O’Neill and Randy Rayburn; visual artists Bill Myers and Myles Mailiie; politicians Howard Gentry, Harold Love, John Ray Clements, Brenda Wynn and Jeff Yarbro; and our own Music Row fabulons Nancy Shapiro, Mary Ann McCready & Roy Wunsch, Beth Gwinn, Rolff Zwiep, Pat Halper, Rob Simbeck, Kay West, her son Harry West of the rock band Wild Cub, Beverly Keel, Hunter Davis, Manuel and Lauren Tingle.
We waved foam-rubber hammers reading, “Nail it Down: Mid-South Carpenters for Barry.” We dined on chicken barbecue, bow-tie pasta salad, coleslaw, corn casserole, beans, bruschetta, cornbread and pudding deserts. We sipped box wine and tapped beer. We bopped to classic Motown hits booming over the sound system. We cheered as the results rolled in.
“At the end of the day, Nashville always does the right thing,” said Ronnie Steine.