1) I was wondering if you ever anticipate writing another book since you just celebrated your 62nd Anniversary as a Grand Ole Opry member. I have two of your books and would love to hear your stories of the last few years.
I’ve got a few new stories I could tell, believe me, but I can write at least a couple dozen new songs in the same amount of time and with less effort than I could write another book. Too, I’m at the point in my life where I want to spend my time with family and the people I love. Writing a book is a lonely thing to do, and while I may tackle it again someday, I don’t anticipate it being anytime soon.
2) I understand that when you become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame you get a medallion. How many people who already have medallions come to congratulate the new members? What all happens during a Medallion Ceremony evening?
For those of us who are members of the Hall of Fame, the Medallion Ceremony is one of the most special nights of the year. It’s always held on a Sunday afternoon in the fall inside the Hall itself. The members who are able to attend (there were 24 total this year) have an hour or so together in the Rotunda where we visit, laugh and tell lies, munch on some goodies, enjoy some liquid refreshment, and pose for a group photo. We are then taken downstairs to await the start of the ceremony itself. After the audience is seated, we are escorted into a special section of the theater as the fans stand and applaud their favorites. It never fails to be a chill-bump moment for me. We are then seated and treated to the music and the history and the unveiling of the plaques for our newest members. Each inductee speaks, we stand and sing, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” and afterward we all come together for a marvelous buffet dinner upstairs. There’s nothing quite like it, believe me.
3) Aren’t you at least a little bit sad to see the direction the Opry has taken? It used to be a star would host a segment of the show and introduce other acts on the show. Now each act comes on and sings three songs and goes off. I guess I’m from the old school….if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
I understand where you are coming from, and I’ve expressed similar feelings to those in charge at the Opry. I used to enjoy hosting the segments almost as much as I did singing the songs. It gave me a chance to meet many of the newer performers early in their careers and welcome them to the most special stage in country music. Too, during the commercial breaks, I loved visiting and cutting up with the audience. It changed because it had to change during Covid, and so far management has not seen fit to change it back. Will they ever? I have no idea. I’m not sure they even know. Stay tuned.
4) Our Question Of The Month comes from Tom in Pennsylvania: All those rhinestone and embroidered suits you guys and gals wore over the years…what happens to them?
I can’t speak for everybody else, but mine have just laid around the house and gotten smaller! I haven’t gotten any larger, but they have definitely shrunk! Seriously, I have loaned several of mine to various museums around the country, some of which have gone out of business never to be heard from again. Some were in my Hall of Fame exhibit and will be returned to me shortly. Some are in the Special Collections Library at the University of Georgia, I gave one to the Tennessee State Museum, and some are in a display outside the Bill Anderson Performing Arts Center in Commerce, Georgia. Some are downstairs in my basement, and a few I have simply lost track of. They will probably pop up on e-Bay when I am dead and gone. I wonder where Porter’s are?? Next time I see his daughter I’ll ask.
Quickies: How do they decide when and what nights people are to be on the Opry? I know Jeannie Seely is on quite often. The talent coordinators ask us for our availabilities several weeks in advance and then program the shows accordingly. Seely lives virtually in the Opry’s back yard, so she can get there on shorter notice than the rest of us! Have you and your friends ever performed in New York City like Carnegie Hall or the Lincoln Center? I can only speak for myself, but I have performed at Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, and several other venues in and around the Big Apple. And I’ve always enjoyed it. Is there ever going to be a time when you will visit the UK? Again, I’ve toured there many times and always enjoyed the fans and the culture. Right now I am not touring at all, so there’s nothing on my immediate radar. Did you ever work with Jerry Clower on your tours? He seemed like he would have been a lot of fun to be around. He was, and I had the pleasure of touring and laughing with him on many occasions. In the sixties and early seventies I lived near Long Beach, CA., and listened to KFOX radio. One of the D.J.’s was named Bill Patterson who I remember saying that the two of you were cousins. Did I dream this or is it true? Either you dreamed it or my parents neglected to tell me about ol’ Cousin Bill. I don’t recall ever seeing him at any of our family reunions!
Thanks for your questions as always. I hope I’ve helped to satisfy your curiosity a bit. We’ll do it again in January, so load us up with whatever you’d like to know about. You can always reach me at email@example.com. If yours is chosen our Question Of The Month you’ll receive any item of your choosing free of charge from our online store. See you next year.