I had the chance to visit with my grandson, Gabe, on his 18th birthday last month, and you can see here in this picture that we were both all smiles. All he wanted was the latest Lego sets, and as you can tell, he got his wish. He has loved putting together Lego ever since he was a little boy, and he doesn’t show any signs of outgrowing that love whatsoever. All these sets should keep him busy for awhile. In the second picture, I am kneeling on the Opry stage to pose with Joseph Kelley, a longtime fan from Alabama. Joseph had seen me back in 1968 when he was 14-years old, and we’d had a picture taken together. Unfortunately, that picture was destroyed in the film developing process, and this was the first time he had seen me since. I decided we needed to replace his picture, so I paused the Opry show to pose and visit with him. It was a special moment for us both. And speaking of special moments, it’s always special when I get to be alongside two of my best buddies, Buddy Cannon (left) and Bobby Tomberlin. This black and white picture was taken following our recent songwriter’s round at the Bluebird Cafe. It had been a fun night with a packed house and lots of music and tall tales. One or two of the stories were even true!
It was a cool experience to stand on the red carpet in the California sunshine, in front of what must certainly be the world’s largest replica of a Grammy Award, and smile for the cameras. You can tell from the look on my face that I was exactly where I wanted to be at that moment. I had no idea that once I got inside and began to walk the carpet that I would run into the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry and fellow Grammy nominee, Ashley McBride. I had never met her, so I just walked up to her and said, “I can’t believe I had to come all the way to California to tell you, ‘Welcome to the Opry family!” We both laughed, and someone suggested we pose for a picture together in front of the Grammy and CBS logos. She and Carly Pearce were Grammy winners later in the evening, and I was happy for both our “Opry girls.” My son, Jamey, and I went to the Universal Records party following the Grammy telecast, and it was the perfect way to wrap up an exciting day and night.
The night of my final Opry appearance of 2022, Rhonda Vincent and I posed in front of the Grand Ole Opry wall backstage to wish our fans and friends a Merry Christmas. And I hope that what each and every one of you enjoyed! The second picture is of Peter Cooper and me together at the Hall of Fame two days after the opening of my “As Far As I Can See” exhibit in 2021. He interviewed me that day on stage in the Ford Theater, and wore his retro Atlanta Braves baseball cap in recognition of our both being longtime fans of the team. In the last picture, Charlie Monk and I were sharing a laugh inside the Sirius/XM radio theater the day he interviewed me regarding the release of my autobiography in 2016. A few days after Charlie passed away, Sirius re-aired that interview, and I remembered all over again what a special friend and talented man he was.
Not only did my granddaughter, Hallie, attend the CMA Awards with me, she also joined me in walking the red carpet prior to the show. She spoke right up and was amazingly poised when the various interviewers talked with her and asked her questions. I was extremely proud. Here we are seen talking to a reporter from KABC in Los Angeles. The second picture was actually taken in a cemetery, but we deleted the tombstones. This is me with my daughters, Jenni (L), and Terri (R), when we visited the old Anderson homeplace recently in Pike County, Georgia. There is an Anderson Family Cemetery on the property that the girls had never seen, with some of the graves dating back to the Civil War. We spent a couple of days getting in touch with our “roots,” and in the process, learned a lot about our family and ourselves. The third picture was taken at a football game in November when my #1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs played the University of Tennessee at Sanford Stadium in Athens. You can tell from my attire who I was cheering for! I’ve been in that stadium many times, but never heard it as loud as it was that afternoon. All I can say as the college playoffs approach is, “Go ‘Dawgs!”