SGMA will honor The Oak Ridge Boys

One of the most prolific groups in country music history also shares one of the longest tenures in the business – The Oak Ridge Boys.

The group actually began as the Oak Ridge Quartet a gospel offshoot of Georgian Wally Fowler’s Georgia Clodhoppers.

They were a regular part of the Grand Ole Opry ® in the 1940s and Wally helped to foster the all night sings concept as he carried the music in to large auditoriums around the country.

He sold the group to Smitty Gatlin in the 1960s and the group eventually changed its name from quartet to boys while featuring some of the field’s greatest singers such as Willy Winn, Gary McSpadden, Jim Hamill, and Herman Harper.

The group was one of the best known on the gospel music circuit of the 1960s and 70s.

Duane Allen and William Lee Golden became part of the lineup and with the additions of Richard Sterban and Joe Bonsall in the 1970s; the group known around the world took shape.

It was at the urging of Roy Clark’s manager Jim Halsey, they chose to step into country music. Initially, the move distanced the group from its established gospel audience.

Many who are exclusively familiar with their post 1974s career transition to country music may only know them for their songs such as “Elvira,” “Bobbie Sue” and “Ya’ll Come Back Saloon.”

Because of their wide platform, they continued sharing the gospel music sound around the world in concerts and recordings.
It is for the impact that the group had to carry the stylings of Southern gospel music to a wider audience due to that bold choice to come to country music that they will be honored this year with the 2012 James D. Vaughan Impact Award on Oct. 3 during a special ceremony at Dollywood at the Southern Gospel Music Association’s (SGMA) annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Singing News Fan Awards.

“It is a huge honor for The Oak Ridge Boys to be presented with the James D. Vaughan Impact Award,” said Duane Allen, lead singer for the Oaks. “Southern style gospel music is the foundation of harmony, which is the sound of The Oak Ridge Boys. We all grew up loving the great gospel quartets and gospel music. We are very humbled to have been chosen to receive this award and look forward to its presentation.”

Group members Duane Allen, William Golden, Joe Bonsall and Richard Sterban will attend to accept the award, named in honor of James D. Vaughan, a Southern gospel music pioneer and one of the genre’s founders.

Past recipients include Bill Gaither, James Blackwood, Les Beasley, Bob Brumley, Mosie Lister, Paul Heil, Eva Mae LeFevre, J.G. Whitfield, Lari Goss, BarbaraMandrell, Dolly Parton and the Statler Brothers.

“The name Oak Ridge has long been associated with gospel music,” said Charlie Waller, SGMA Executive Director. “Even today the Oaks are still delivering the gospel sound to their audiences in their own inimitable fashion.

“Their endeavors to persevere have not gone unnoticed,” he said. “Their rich gospel music legacy makes us proud to honor them with the James D. Vaughan Impact Award.”

The Oak Ridge Boys enjoyed 25 top ten singles, including 13 number one hits while continuing to tour and record today, he said.

Their most popular gospel songs included “I Know,” “King Jesus” and the ever popular, “Jesus Is Coming Soon,” written by SGMA Hall of Fame member, the late R.E. Winsett, according to Waller.
The SGMA Hall of Fame Induction  Ceremony/Singing News Fan Awards are Oct. 3, 2012 at DP’s Celebrity Theatre at Dollywood, home of the Southern Gospel Music Museum and Hall of Fame.

Seating is reserved, and tickets are $75 ($55 for Dollywood season pass holders) and include one-day Dollywood admission, parking and lunch as well as Dollywood’s more than 40 rides, shows and attractions.

Tickets go on sale March 1 and must be purchased in advance by calling the SGMA office at (865) 908-4040.

The SGMA is a non-profit organization that maintains the Southern Gospel Music Museum and Hall of Fame, the only facility honoring Southern gospel music and dedicated to the historic preservation of the genre’s accomplishments, both for the music and the people. Museum hours coincide with Dollywood’s operating schedule. Donations are tax-deductible. For more information about the museum or its inductees, visit

Larry Cordle and “Pud Marcum’s Hangin'”

Songwriters are the life’s blood of the music industry. They create the tapestry upon which every artist creates their careers and their legacies. Often we never learn their names unless they are also an artist.

One of my favorite songwriters who is also an artist has created some of the songs country listeners know by heart with over 55 million of his songs sold by artists including Ricky Skaggs, Garth Brooks, Alison Krauss, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Trace Adkins and many more.
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The Country Side of Bluegrass with Janie Fricke

In my music career I have had the honor to come to know many of those who have found success on the country music charts. Some have made us think with their lyrics, moved us with their performances; mirrored our lives as they reflected the human condition.

Some years ago, my late mother and I sat at the Music City News Breakfast with a lady whose voice is a friend to any song she desires to wrap within her talents – Janie Fricke.

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Kornfield County has a get together on RFD-TV and DVD

My mom, my dad and me have just finished a wonderful Saturday night meal of slowly cooked pot roast, tender potatoes and carrots, as we sat around the kitchen table, with the evening news on the black and white Zenith.

We hurry through the clean up as we move into the living room and dad pulls out the on button on the RCA color console and sits back in his recliner, mom sits on the sofa and I spread out on the floor looking up at the screen waiting to hear that banjo sound and see the bright animation that guides us into the next hour of down-home country entertainment. If we were home on Saturday night, then at 7 p.m. we were sitting in front of an episode of “Hee Haw.”

Even after CBS chopped down every show on television with a tree in it or a stalk of corn with cancellation, thankfully, the producers of  “Hee Haw” chose to take it into first run-syndication keeping it alive for more than 20 years.

The show allowed our family to see some of our country favorites sing their hits of the year with some old-time country comedy and some outstanding pickin’ and singin’ performed by an amazing cast of entertainers who for 25 years visited us in our homes across America. All the cast could take the corniest routines and bring them life.

As I grew up as a country performer myself, it was always my hope that I would become one of those who became part of the show’s long history with a guest appearance or even joining the cast.

I got my chance towards the end of the show’s run when I met with one of the producers and we discussed me joining the regular cast as they revamped the show for what would become its final season.

I returned to  “In the Heat of the Night” for another season, and sadly “Hee Haw” came to a close and the opportunity did not materialize for me.

But it is safe to say, I learned to love those folks with each and every episode, they were like kin folks, so as my career paths crossed with Buck Owens, Roy Clark, Buck Trent, the Hagar Twins, Grandpa Jones, Minnie Pearl, Mike Snider, or Lulu Roman, I felt like I was among family who were also stars. And then there were those such as Stringbean, Junior Samples, and Archie Campbell that I knew from the stories of others entertainment friends close to them.

Many of the residents of Kornfield County return in January for a special series of new programs on Gabriel Communications’ ever-popular Country’s Family Reunion on RFD-TV airing on Saturdays. Check local listings for times or visit

Among the stars coming back for “Country’s Family Reunion Salute to the Kornfield,” are with Roy Clark, Buddy Alan (Owens) and Bill Anderson.

One of my favorites is Lulu Roman and she is back as part of the special trip down memory lane.
“It had been a number of years since many of us had seen each other and the reunion was joyous,” reflects Lulu Roman, regular HEE HAW cast member.

“Several of the cast were missing and it was a firm reminder that for some of us, it was quite possibly the last time we might see each other. It was a very special get together.”

Also appearing during the “Salute to the Kornfield” are Don Harron, Charlie Farquharson, Ramona Jones, John Conlee, Charlie McCoy, Ricky Skaggs, Victoria Hallman, T. Graham Brown, Gordie Tapp, Mike Snider, Johnny Lee, Barbi Benton, Larry Gatlin, Roni Stoneman, Moe Bandy, Gunilla Hutton, The Nashville Edition, The Whites, Jim Ed Brown, Jeff Smith, Gene Watson and Cathy Baker.

So, if you can tune in check out “Country’s Family Reunion Salute to the Kornfield,” and, if not, it’s available in a 4-disc set at or by calling 1-800-820-5405.

‘Many a Mile’ with Eddie and Martha Adcock

Two of my favorite folks in the bluegrass music field are Eddie and Martha Adcock.

Eddie and I both share the honor of having worked with Bill Monroe and we were together at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Ky. earlier this fall as we were honored for our contributions to the music.

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Christmas time is on its way….

Jingle Bells, Silver Bells and one-horse open sleighs seem to say for me Christmas is on its way.

I hear the bells ringing from every place of wonder, their tones overcome the hustle and bustle and it’s hard to even count their number.

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Final curtains for a couple of TV “Docs”

Recently two more of my acting friends took their final bows and the curtain closed on their amazing careers.
Many remember Harry Morgan, (1915-2011) who made us laugh so amazingly as part of the ensemble cast of doctors on “M*A*S*H” and also kept the streets safe in “Dragnet.” His acting career spanned from being everything imaginable in golden age of Hollywood films to becoming a television mainstay creating countless characters. I was honored to meet him during my time working at “Grace Under Fire” with my friend Alan Autry. He was a true class act.

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Uncle Dud Doolittle and the rickety ladder

My great Uncle Dud Doolittle was an entrepreneur extraordinaire who operated the little general store at Flintville Crossroads.

Now Uncle Dud was as swift as could be. He stood about five-foot-five and was wiry as a well-strung bed frame.

His circular Ben Franklin spectacles offset his gray hair, and he was seldom seen outside his wool, dark green-striped suit and favorite gray beaver hat.

When working in the store, he also wore a black visor on his head that looked odd because it made his bald spot shine as he worked below the store’s light bulb.

With the variety of folks who made his store a regular place to be, he was always finding himself in unique and unusual situations.

Folks were always eager to give a hand, especially Cousin Clara who made a drop by the store a daily ritual.
It was a quiet Friday afternoon in July of 1948. Uncle Dud stood on a rickety wooden ladder putting a shipment of canned peaches in his favorite pyramid display. As he drew his task to close Cousin Clara came in saying, “Sure is hot out there.”

She noticed a can lying below the ladder so she walked over and stepped under the ladder to pick it up. As she raised up, she knocked over the ladder sending Uncle Dud to the floor.

“Doggoned it,” Dud said. “I told you before to stay away from that ladder. Don’t you know it is bad luck to walk under a ladder?”

“I didn’t know you were superstitious,” Clara said.
“About the only time I am superstitious is when somebody like you walks under a ladder and deliberately sends me to the ground,” he said.

“Do you believe it is seven years bad luck to break a mirror?” Clara asked.

“No sireee! My Uncle Corn Walter broke a mirror, and he did not have a bit of bad luck,” Dud said.

“Why didn’t he?” Clara asked.

“He got bit by a rattlesnake and died two days later,” he said.

Throughout the conversation, Dud remained as he had landed on the floor — standing on his head.

“Why are you still like that?” she asked.

“When I stand on my head the blood rushes to my head, but when I stand on my feet the blood don’t seem to rush to my feet,” Dud said. “I didn’t know why, so I wanted to just stay here and think about it a minute or two.”
“Why, that’s easy to figure out in your case Uncle Dud,” Clara said. “Blood can’t go in to your feets because your feets are full, but it can go into your head cause your head’s empty.”

(The characters of Uncle Dud Doolittle and Cousin Clara are the property of Peach Picked Publishing in association with Katona Publishing and are used by permission.)

The colors of things yet to be seen

As I drove through the mountains of Arkansas looking at bright yellows, deep reds and variety of greens and browns, I felt a warmness coming over me beckoning back to my childhood riding in the back seat of my parents blue 1964 Chevy Malibu as we made our way through the mountains heading to who knows where.

The adventure of travel was something that we all enjoyed, trying to find something we had not seen, something that would be an experience we could share throughout our memories.
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Titanic – a must see

There is no other name that seems to loom over nautical history like the White Star Lines’ R.M.S. Titanic.

Its story is highlighted in articles, books, films and televisions shows spanning the past 99 years. Amazing isn’t it, 2012 will be the 100th Anniversary of the story of one of the most fateful voyages of modern history.
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