Country happenings with Sylvia and Ricky Skaggs

My career in country music has allowed me the blessing of doing shows with a lot of our stars.

It always enthuses me when I can share great news about friends I have met along the way.

sylviaOne of those is country chart-topper Sylvia is who will release her new CD It’s All in the Family in early October. The 12-song album was produced by Sylvia and her longtime collaborator John Mock.
“I hope this music inspires and encourages people of all ages to continue to create in whatever genre brings them joy,” stated Sylvia. “I have found that there is no age limit on creativity. Your best work is ahead of you! I’ve felt like a kid again making this record, and I can hardly wait to share it with the world!”
It’s All in the Family is Sylvia’s first album on which she co-wrote the majority of the 12 all-new songs. The highly anticipated release is the singer/songwriter’s most personal venture to date, paying homage to her family’s musical roots and touching on the choices, challenges and turns in the road that have brought her to where she stands today. The Grammy-nominated singer collaborated with some top songwriters including Thom Schuyler, Craig Bickhardt, Jeff Pennig, Kate Campbell, Bobby Tomberlin, and Mark Narmore. John Mock wrote the music for six cuts on the record as well as string arrangements for half of the album.
Known for her long list of huge hits like “Nobody” and “Tumbleweed,” Sylvia has a history of creating long-lasting fan favorites. With the release of Sylvia’s second RCA album, Just Sylvia, the single “Nobody” sold two million copies and was #1 on all country music charts. It was awarded BMI “Song of the Year” for receiving the most radio airplay in 1983. “Nobody” also reached #13 as a crossover hit on Billboard’s Top 100 chart and spent a total of 52 weeks on both charts. Recording for RCA until the end of 1987, Sylvia recorded six albums and garnered a total of 13 Top Ten and No. 1 songs, selling over 4 million records. In 1982, Sylvia was named “Female Vocalist of the Year” by the Academy of Country Music and was a Grammy nominee in the “Best Female Country Vocal Performance” category in 1983. To learn more, go to www.SylviaMusic.com. The CD can be pre-ordered at Itunes and CDBaby.

My longtime friend Ricky Skaggs is receiving musical honors including this year’s prestigious ASCAP Founders Award and the 14-time GRAMMY® winner will be inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame.

ricky-skaggs“What an incredible honor it is for me to be inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame,” says Skaggs. “Just to be named alongside so many of my musical heroes is really humbling. I’m grateful to all of the musicians who have gone before me and left a trail that I have followed and learned from. I’m so thankful for this honor.”

In addition to Skaggs, this year’s inductees include Garth Brooks, the late Jerry Reed, Brooks’ studio backing band, the G-Men and the Sigma Sound Studio Rhythm Section.

An induction ceremony and concert will be held on Wednesday, October 26, at 7 p.m. at the Municipal Auditorium in downtown Nashville. The Municipal Auditorium is home to the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and GRAMMY Museum Gallery™ at Musicians Hall of Fame.

Earning 12 #1 hit singles, 14 GRAMMY® Awards, 11 IBMA Awards, nine ACM Awards, eight CMA Awards (including Entertainer of the Year), two Dove Awards, three honorary Doctorate degrees, a GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame induction, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s 2013 Artist-In-Residence, an Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award in the Instrumentalist category along with countless other awards, Ricky Skaggs is truly a pioneer of Bluegrass and Country music. Since he began playing music more than 50 years ago, Skaggs has released more than 30 albums and has performed thousands of live shows. He started his own record label, Skaggs Family Records, in 1997 and has since released 12 consecutive GRAMMY®-nominated albums. His newest release,
For more information on Ricky Skaggs, visit www.rickyskaggs.com.

Actor/Entertainer Randall Franks’s musical milestone benefits next generation

30yearscdvol1-front-coverEntertainer/actor Randall Franks reflects on his musical successes by defining a special purpose for his recordings with a special CD series.

Randall Franks: 30 Years on Radio and TV Volume I,” released this month worldwide from the Share America Foundation in cooperation with Crimson Records, shares 23 Christian music and comedy recordings that helped Franks make a mark on radio or TV.

“God allowed me to sing and play some of the most inspiring and uplifting songs thus far during my career,” he said. “Radio and TV listeners responded time and time again helping create sellers that helped me climb the charts. I am honored to look back at the hours of recordings and select some of the best for these collections donating the use of the masters for these CDs to help us encourage a new generation of Appalachian singers and musicians through college scholarships.”

Monies received from the CD will help to fund the Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarships awarded annually by the Share America Foundation, Inc., a Georgia 501-C-3 based in Catoosa County, Ga.


1987-marksmenrexnelonEntertainer Randall Franks (right) joins gospel music luminaries Eldridge Fox of The Kingsmen Quartet (third from left), Rex Nelon of the Rex Nelon Singers (fourth from left) and The Marksmen Quartet, (from left) Rob Gillentine, Mark Wheeler, Earle Wheeler, and Keith Chambers at a recording session for MBM Records at Perfection Sound in 1987. Franks began recording his first Christian hits here.

Franks became the first solo bluegrass artist to reach the top rankings of the Christian music sales charts with his “Handshakes and Smiles” in 1990 forging new ground and opening new sales outlets for tradition artists to share their music. He created a partnership at Benson with the late producer Norman Holland, garnering turntable hits including the Telly Award nominee “Handshakes and Smiles,” “He’s Never Gonna Fool Me Again,” “You Better Get Ready,” “Pass Me Not” and “Rock of Ages.” He then solidified a presence in traditional gospel music through a long-lasting association with producer Chris White and Sonlite Records producing numerous radio and sales successes.

“When I started out, I was so blessed to have the support and encouragement of so many of the Christian music industry’s leaders,” Franks said, “Their help made the journey so much easier and definitely more fun.”

God’s Children with Randall Franks and the Watkins Family (Randall Franks and Cotton Carrier/Peach Picked Publishing/BMI)

The first volume of 30 Years highlights some key songs which charted, were broadcast around the world or received award nods in various genres of Christian music. Many recordings feature collaborations between Franks and current or past genre stars, many of whom are now members of their respective music halls of fame.

“I performed with so many stars in my career and I am so honored that many of them came into my life helping me create the sound and the songs that folks listened to through the years,” Franks said. “Nothing I have done would have been possible without their contributions.”

1998-shroyersonny-croppedSonny Shroyer, “Enos” from “The Dukes of Hazzard,” joined Randall Franks to record “Children in Need” in 1999 for the CD “God’s Children” bringing the classic recitation performance to radio around the world.

Nine of the songs included were authored or co-written by Franks such as his “Now I Know,” popularized by the Marksmen Quartet, “God’s Children” written by Franks with Georgia Music Hall of Famer Cotton Carrier, or “Children in Need” recorded with “The Dukes of Hazzard” star Sonny “Enos” Shroyer and bluegrass star David Davis. Nine of the recordings are church standards such as “Amazing Grace” performed with bluegrass banjo legend Raymond Fairchild, “In the Garden” with Southern gospel stars Voices Won, or his international hit of “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.” The remainder are popular hits in their respective gospel sub-genres.

Among the other notable award winners included performing with Franks are the Carol Lee Singers, Darrin Chambers, David Davis and the Warrior River Boys, Doodle and the Golden River Grass, Jerry Douglas, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Steve Easter, Travis Lewis,  Lewis Phillips, “Doc” Tommy Scott, Gary Waldrep, The Watkins Family, Mark Wheeler, and Grand Ole Opry stars – the Whites.

Other recordings featured include: “You Gotta Know the Lows,” “I’ll Meet You in Church Sunday Morning,””Must Be A Reason,” “Meeting in the Air,” “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” “This World Is Not My Home,” “Building On Sand,” “He’s Never Gonna Fool Me Again,” “Rock of Ages,” “Letter from Down Home,” “This Little Light of Mine,” “Gloryland March,” “Who Do You Think,” “Precious Memories,” “The Pilgrimage to Bethlehem,” and “Let’s Live Every Day Like It Was Christmas.”

2009nqctim0405Fiddler Randall Franks (second from left) appears with the National Quartet Convention All-Star Band in 2009 for an INSP TV special with from left, Tim Lovelace, Lorie Watkins, Jeff Tolbert, Mike Riddle, Randy “Scoot” Shelnut, Jr. (Photo by Regina Watkins)

Franks, who is best known as “Officer Randy Goode” from the TV series “In the Heat of the Night,” starred in three TV series and 15 films. He became a country music personality as a youth beginning appearances at major country, folk, bluegrass and gospel events such as Country Music Association Fan Fair, National Folk Festival, National Quartet Convention, National Black Arts Festival and for the Grand Ole Opry. With 24 career albums in four genres, he has performed to over 145 million fans around the world. Musically, he is recognized as an International Bluegrass Music Museum Legend and Independent Country Music Hall of Fame member. Among his many awards are multiple ASE Bluegrass Band of the Year awards and numerous contributory nominations for SPBGMA Traditional and Contemporary Bluegrass Gospel Band of the Year. He appeared repeatedly as part of NQC All Star Band. He is a syndicated columnist featured in newspapers across the Southeast and Midwestern U.S.



This Little Light of Mine Randall Franks with David Davis and the Warrior River Boys (Randall Franks/Peach Picked Publishing/BMI)

“Randall Franks: 30 Years on Radio and TV Volume II,” featuring an Americana, country, folk and bluegrass hits collection, is expected for release in late November also benefiting the scholarship.

The CD is available for a donation of $14 at http://shareamericafoundation.org.

God opens the doors

It is amazing how God will open doors for people in their life. My road to Hollywood and network television is one He set in motion at an early age. I remember going to my mother and telling her “Mommy, I want to play my music on television like Flatt and Scruggs or The Darlings.” She didn’t discourage me; she just said, “We’ll see what we can do.”

Several years later after graduation my father Floyd Franks, who served as co-manager with my mother Pearl for our youth group The Peachtree Pickers, was diagnosed with lung cancer. The members of my group had all decided with new responsibilities at college that they needed to go a different direction so I found myself at a reorganizing point musically once again after forming and reforming our group for several years encompassing 25 youth.

I was praying a lot over where the Lord wanted me to be musically, should I bring together another band, go out as a soloist, concentrate on finding a “real” job. Hearing the words that my dad, who was my constant companion on the road, especially since his retirement five years earlier, was threatened with facing this dreaded disease which could take him from mother and I spun me into an unusual merry-go round of worry and denial of the danger.

God led me to walk through the doors of an acting course during this period, I had always loved being on stage and getting a chance to fulfill that childhood dream gave me a new focus for my energies.

I remember at one point that the doctors said, “With the treatments, he should have five more years.”

Five more years, I thought that’s not a lot but it is in God’s hands. While I sent up many prayers for Dad’s healing. I distinctly remember one plea. I asked God these words: “God, if I am to do anything in television, please let it be in these next five years, so Dad may be part of it.”

I made my first film appearance with a silent bit as a sports reporter in a movie to be called “Blind Side” starring John Beck and Gail Strickland that summer. I remember sitting at the kitchen table telling my mom and dad about my days on the set in the August heat on the football field. Just relaying the story, I could see a bit of enthusiasm return to Dad’s face in spite of his declining condition.

It was just a couple of more weeks before God chose to call Dad home.

But the story doesn’t end there. That prayer I vocalized received an answer one year later, almost to the day when I received a call from casting director Dee Voight asking me to be on the set of a new television show that had moved to Georgia called “In the Heat of the Night” the next morning about 5:30.

I had seen the show’s first episodes and I remember saying “If I am ever to be on television this is the show.” But how could that be I was in Georgia and they were filming then in Louisiana but God can make amazing things happen.

Dee wanted me to be on the set to perform as an extra in a crowd scene the first day of filming. I remember her saying, “I think they are going to like you.” Within the first hour one of the directors came by and said “You look an a lot like a police officer.” I replied, “Thank you” not giving any thought to the work that God was doing behind the scenes. Over the next, few weeks the directors kept bringing me back using me as an extra on the show. Each time, even on that first day, I found myself in scenes doing silent bits with the stars of the show. When about six weeks passed, they came to me and said that a new police character was to be added to the show and I was to be it. Within a very short time, “Officer Randy Goode” was born into a five-year role on NBC and CBS television.

His gifts kept growing bringing my work to new allies all the way up the studio and network ladder.

After being on the show for about a year, I realized I had reached part of that childhood goal but as I found success in various areas being provided through God’s love, in prayer I asked God, you are giving me all these wonderful opportunities but what is it I am suppose to be here doing for you.

A few weeks passed and I had my answer. I was called into the set through the echo of assistant directors fully expecting star and executive producer Carroll O’Connor to add me to a scene as he did many times before. Instead when I walked to the middle of the Chief’s office and said “Yes, sir.” Carroll looked at me and said “I want to use a scripture in this scene.” Internally, I felt as if my mouth had dropped to the floor, about 100 people working for our show on the set and he called me in to give counsel about the first time that the “Chief Gillespie” would use a scripture that would touch the ears of more than 25 million Americans and millions of viewers in 150 countries around the world. Many of which never cross the threshold of a church door. I had never spoken to Carroll O’Connor about my faith nor do I recall doing so with any that had his close counsel. I believe however that someone else whispered in his ear in answer to my prayer. We settled on I Corinthians 13:13 “And the greatest of these is Charity” and that became his comment about the situation facing a young Vietnamese boy found needing help in our Sparta community in an episode entitled “My Name is Hank.”

That began a wonderful dialogue between he and I on Christian and biblical topics. While not overly religious, the Chief Gillespie character became a purveyor of biblical wisdom through scriptures even leading a condemned prisoner to Christ in one episode.

Our characters sought inspiration and solace from God by attending church, we prayed before meals, sang songs of faith both on camera and in our CD “Christmas Time’s A Comin’” which God blessed me to produce featuring our entire cast and many notable guests. Executive producer Carroll O’Connor himself was seldom found from that point walking on the set without his script under one arm and a King James Bible beneath the other.

This is a refreshing alternative to what we see on most gritty crime dramas whether then or now. The show was unique and I thank God for allowing me to play a small part on the screen and off in its making.

By the way, God gave me another little gift before my departure from the show; many nice folks wrote in to our show about me and that encouraged Carroll O’Connor to write a scene that would feature me musically in an episode entitled “Random’s Child.” That childhood dream was reached.

God sews seeds in many gardens in hopes that one day they might bear great fruit. I was blessed to serve as one of His workers in this garden that fed and continues to feed millions nearly twenty years later.

Actor/Entertainer/Author Randall Franks gains momentum with Randall Franks TV on YouTube

Bluegrass Music: Filling the River with Tears Randall Franks and Mountain Cove Bluegrass (Randall Franks/Peach Picked Publishing/BMI)

Actor/Entertainer/Author Randall Franks launched his YouTube channel www.youtube.com/user/randallfranks beginning with his early folk music footage; and the channel now nears a half million viewers from around the world.

“When we began, I never imagined how folks interested in what I do from around the world would find us there,” Franks said. “From the fiddling folk music of Doodle and the Golden River Grass, my bluegrass and country songs, to my most recent gospel music videos with legends such as the Florida Boys, there is something to appeal to everyone.”

Franks, who is best known as “Officer Randy Goode” from the TV series “In the Heat of the Night,” starred in three TV series and 15 films. Musically, he is recognized as an International Bluegrass Music Museum Legend and Independent Country Music Hall of Fame inductee.

“It is amazing the legendary entertainers who have joined us on my stage show through the years and many are seen performing with me,” he said.


Christian Music: Peace in the Valley: Randall Franks with the Florida Boys

Randall Franks TV www.youtube.com/user/randallfranks highlights dozens of Franks’s music performances from folk, bluegrass, country and Southern gospel as well as interviews from numerous television appearances.

Many of Randall Franks’s recordings may be downloaded at http://www.nimbitmusic.com/randallfranks.

Appalachian Fiddlin’: Down Yonder: Randall Franks with Raymond Fairchild (Randall Franks/Peach Picked Publishing/BMI)

The channel is most popular in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Japan, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands, Mexico, Czech Republic and Brazil.

“Folks from around the world stop by and check out our vintage interviews and performances featuring some of America’s greatest music and TV legends and stars who have been part of my life and career. These rare videos cannot be found anywhere else,” he said. “I have also created impromptu interview and music features that I have shot on set from many of my movies.”

Franks became a country music personality as a youth beginning appearances at major country, folk, bluegrass and gospel events such as Country Music Association Fan Fair, National Folk Festival, National Quartet Convention, National Black Arts Festival and for the Grand Ole Opry. With 24 career albums in four genres, his latest is “Keep ‘Em Smilin’” He has performed to over 145 million fans around the world.  He is a syndicated newspaper columnist featured across the Southern and Midwestern U.S. and an author with eight books including his “Encouragers III: A Guiding Hand” released in Sept. 1.

“It is amazing to see that the music I created is popular among all ages,” Franks said. “I am honored by all the folks who spend a little time with me on the channel each day. I hope you will join them and drop by, sit a spell, and subscribe today. With your help we will make Randall Franks TV a great success allowing us to keep adding more and more entertaining content.”

Vintage Interview with Country Song: I Know Cause I’ve Been There Randall Franks (Randall Franks/Peach Picked Publishing; and Dottie Moore/LogRhythm Music/BMI)

Director/Actor Randall Franks to direct IBMA Awards segment

Randall Franks will direct a segment of the annual International Bluegrass Music Association Awards Show featuring the Distinguished Achievement Awards.

“Bluegrass music is one of my greatest loves,” he said. “Playing a part in honoring the greats of our industry for their lifetime of commitment, as well as those we recognize for their special industry awards is an outstanding honor.”

Recognized as an International Bluegrass Music Museum Legend for his work with over 30 hall of famers including the legendary Father of Bluegrass Bill Monroe, Franks is also known as an actor/director around the world. Franks, who appeared as “Officer Randy Goode” on TV’s “In the Heat of the Night,” has directed documentaries, music productions for television, stage plays, and dozens of hours of new media content. Franks starred in three TV series and 15 films with his latest film “Broken” starring with Soren Fulton and Joe Stevens.

Franks returns for his fourth year of directing working alongside segment producer Tom Kopp. The IBMA Awards Show are Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, N.C. This special segment of the IBMA Awards Show including the Distinguished Achievement Awards, the organization’s second highest career honor, and its industry awards are presented at the Raleigh Convention Center earlier in the day.

“It is a pleasure to work with Tom Kopp and the IBMA staff who bring together a wonderful and always moving presentation for this segment,” Franks said “I often find myself being pulled into the moment along with the recipient during their acceptance speech sometimes choking up right along with them.”

Franks became a bluegrass and country music personality as a youth beginning appearances at major country, folk, bluegrass and gospel events such as Country Music Association Fan Fair, National Folk Festival, National Quartet Convention, World of Bluegrass, National Black Arts Festival and for the Grand Ole Opry. With 24 career albums in four genres, he has performed to over 145 million fans around the world. Musically, he is an Independent Country Music Hall of Fame member. His latest CD is “Keep ‘Em Smilin’” featuring Christian music and comedy.

Learn more about Franks connections to bluegrass, https://www.randallfranks.com/appalachian-and-bluegrass-music/.

Franks highlights many of his music heroes in his Encouragers book series, the latest in the series is “Encouragers III: A Guiding Hand” which include these bluegrass personalities: Eddie and Martha Adcock, Kenny Baker, Byron Berline, Jerry and Helen Burke, Vassar Clements, Peanut Faircloth, John and Debbie Farley, Otis Head, Bobby Hicks, Bill Monroe, and Tater Tate.

For more information about the IBMA Awards visit ibma.org.

Country Fiddlin’ at the Ford

Every time I step through the doors of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn., I am struck with the immense size of the museum and all its facilities. Knowing our genre’s starting point, having such a place to remember, honor, foster and preserve, what has been accomplished is amazing.

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America’s Morning Show co-host Kelly Ford and Randall Franks host the Grand Master Fiddler Championship.

I stood outside the Ford Theater listening to the notes of “Sally Johnson” fill the air and looked at lines on Labor Day weekend waiting to buy their ticket and it took me back to the days of seeing the lines of country music fans waiting for a show at the former Opryland amusement park.

When I was a boy, that was the center of activity when people visited Music City; one of the big annual attractions that brought people from around the world was the Grand Master Fiddler Championship, now in its 45th year, the show is held at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in its Henry Ford Theater.

While as a youth, I competed; as a Grand Ole Opry guest star, I performed, today, I am the celebrity host of the Grand Master Fiddler Championship stepping in the shoes of Roy Acuff, Porter Wagoner and Grant Turner. This year I welcomed the help of Grammy winner Jim Lauderdale, journalist Craig Havighurst and from America’s Morning Show’s CMA winner Kelly Ford who assisted me with the emcee duties.

This year’s crop of fiddlers spanned fiddlers from coast to coast from early elementary school to retirement age performing tunes from “Red Wing” to “Bridget’s Waltz.” What was consistent throughout the two-day event, was the level of proficiency shared by each competitor reflected a desire to bring home the nation’s highest fiddling honor and a chance to perform on the Grand Ole Opry.

The crowd was moved with every pull of the bow sometimes bringing the cheers to a rousing pitch.

After 14 hours of competition, Grand Ole Opry stars Riders in the Sky were on hand to entertain and help crown the 2016 Grand Master Fiddler Champion Maddie Denton from Murfreesboro, Tenn.

grandmasterfiddlerpresentation2016

From left, GMFC Board Member Ed Carnes, Woody Paul of Riders in the Sky, Maddie, GMFC Board Member Howard Harris and GMFC Celebrity Host Randall Franks.

I am especially proud because Maddie won the 2016 Randall Franks Trophy at the 1890s Day Jamboree Old Time Fiddler Convention winning an opportunity to compete in the finals this year.

Organizers Howard Harris and Ed Carnes also crowned a Youth Grand Master Ivy Phillips and a Traditional Grand Master Brian Christianson.

The organization presented the Dr. Perry Harris Award to Woody Paul of the Riders in the Sky. The Grand Master Fiddler Championship. Inc. presents the honor to individuals who have had a lasting impact on the fiddling art form. The award is named for the late Grand Master Fiddler Championship founder Perry Felton Harris, M.D., D.D.S, Colonel U.S.A.F., who convinced the Grand Ole Opry’s E.W. “Bud” Wendell that the organization needed a fiddle contest.

The Charlie Bush Award was presented to Eli Bishop honoring the traditional fiddle performance which would most reflect the tastes of former late contest volunteer and board member.

I encourage you to join us in Music City next year and enjoy the fiddling fun. The Grand Master Fiddler Championship, Inc. is a Tennessee non-profit and a U.S. IRS 501(c)(3) charitable corporation, formed to educate about and perpetuate fiddling as an art form and cultural treasure. For more info, visit www.grandmasterfiddler.com.

When the morning comes

When the morning comes, we will start a new day.

The sunrises up to greet us pushing away the darkness that flooded the night.

The worries we had in the depth of black time fades away with its first rays.

Oh, the pain and grief that we shared, that enveloped the river of thoughts that streamed through our minds float away on the morning breeze.

When the morning comes, we will find a new way.

Our weary feet will hit the floor, though timid at first, their strength will swell with the drawing deeply of the sweet wisp of fragrance on the morning breeze.

The ticking clock reminds us that the day is precious and each moment should be filled with the hope of appreciating the grace gift of life.

An early morning shower like a dip in the baptismal pool washes away all concerns and focuses life upon the path that is ahead.

When the morning comes, we will be blessed with what to say.

Our feet step out into the morning sun and the feel of it upon the face warms the soul to its depth.

We meet our neighbor on our way, he seems lost in the shadow of his day, so the words we share uplift him there and make his steps lighter upon his way.

A little further along the path, there stands someone from our past, a bit of hurt still looms within, but with the word forgive, a future sighting will make us live.

When the morning comes, we will live life to the full.

We will go somewhere we have never been.

We will learn a skill that could help us win within our hopes, dreams and desires.

We will set the world on its edge and spin it with a solemn pledge.

When the morning comes, we will give it to God

He will use us wherever we trod to be His hands, His feet and share His heart with all we meet.