You sure do know how to make a guy smile while growing older, don’t you?
Thanks SO much for all the birthday cards, letters, e-mails, Facebook posts, and tweets that you’ve sent my way. As I said on the Opry, turning eighty-years old is both exciting and a bit scary, but it’s a lot nicer knowing that your well-wishes are going with me into this new decade of life. And, trust me, reaching this age is much better than the alternative!
What a super party the Opry threw for me on the Saturday night before my big day. Virtually all the artists sang one of my songs on their segment of the show, each song bringing back special memories, smiles, and even a few tears. They rolled out a big birthday cake, led the audience in singing Happy Birthday to me, then presented me with 80 shiny new pennies to spend as I please!
What an honor it is to be part of the most fabulous family in country music. Thanks to our new Opry manager, Sally Williams, and staff members Dan Rogers and Gina Keltner for creating such a special evening. And to my manager, Lee Willard, who worked so hard inviting my family and friends to celebrate with me…all the while not letting me in on the secret. It was a night I’ll never forget.
The previous Sunday I got to visit with lots of my musical friends and heroes at the 2017 Medallion Ceremony at the Country Music Hall of Fame. The late Jerry Reed, Don Schlitz, and Alan Jackson were inducted into the Hall that day, and each one justifiably so for their special and unique contributions to our music. My fun came in seeing the smiles on their faces and on the faces of their families and friends. And in seeing Loretta Lynn for the first time since her stroke, and listening to her imitate me singing “Po’ Folks” one more time, just the way she used to do it on stage every night in the early days of both our careers. A marvelous evening indeed.
So, you ask, what’s coming up in November? Well, on November 4th I will be making an appearance on former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee’s, new television show on TBN, which I hope many of you will be able to watch. I will also be introducing my friend and former singing partner, Jan Howard, that day at a large gathering at Middle Tennessee State University where she will be honored for her lifetime of service and support to our U.S. military. Then we’ll all be gearing up for the 51st annual CMA Awards Show November 7th, often referred to as the biggest night of the year in country music. After that I’m preparing to head into the recording studio to begin working on a new album. Thomm Jutz, a great songwriter, musician, engineer and producer, will be co-producing the album along with me and Peter Cooper. We’ve got a few surprises up our collective sleeves which I hope you will enjoy.
My Opry appearances this month are on the 4th, the 11th, and the 18th, with two shows each night at the Ryman Auditorium. On the 18th, I’ll be cutting out after the first show to host the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree at the Texas Troubadour theater near Opryland. We won’t be on the road again until New Years Eve with our big, star-studded show in Branson.
On the personal front, hopefully by the time you read this my daughter, Terri Whitman, will have been released from the hospital and recuperating at home from her three recent surgeries. She has asked me to thank you for your cards, letters, and prayers while she has been going through a very difficult time.
I plan to spend Thanksgiving at home and, as is our tradition, host Thanksgiving dinner for all the kids and grandkids at my house. In spite of a few bumps in our road, we have much to be thankful for again this year. I hope the holiday is a great one for you and your loved ones, wherever you might choose spend it. As I say every year at this time, I continue to be MOST thankful for you, your friendship, and your support of me and my musical career.
Happy Thanksgiving! God bless, and we’ll see you back here in December.