“My grandson, Gabe, turned 17-years old on August 6th, and the family celebrated with dinner and presents at his house. You can never go wrong giving Gabe a set of Lego, because he loves to put the pieces together. He wants to be an architect someday, and I guess this is good practice. He must have gotten at least a half-dozen Lego sets for his birthday, and as you can see, he was all smiles. In the second picture, my oldest granddaughter, Rae, is also smiling big after just exchanging vows with her new husband, Zach Kunde. It was an incredible wedding with lots of laughter and a few happy tears. The newlyweds plan an October honeymoon. In the bottom picture, I’m not only enjoying the water and the sunshine at the beach, but getting ready for the college football season by wearing my bright red Georgia Bulldogs shirt. I had a great vacation, but like all vacations it was far too short. Go Dawgs!”
It sure was fun celebrating Valentine’s Day backstage at the Grand Ole Opry with these three lovely ladies: Jeannie Seely, Rhonda Vincent, and Lainey Wilson. I never did find out who snuck into my dressing room and left the red rose that I’m holding in my hand though. It may have not even been meant for me, but I took it anyway. A few nights later, the great Hall of Fame songwriter, Dean Dillon, made his debut appearance on the Opry, and he invited me out to sing our song, “A Lot Of Things Different,” with him. We both admit to that song being one of the favorite songs either one of us has ever been a part of writing, and it was special to do it together on that most special of stages. The third picture was taken backstage at the tribute show we did for our friend, Peter Cooper, at the Country Music Hall of Fame late last month. Peter was, like me, a big Atlanta Braves baseball fan, and he would have been thrilled that all-time Braves great, Dale Murphy, was in town and came to his Celebration of Life. I couldn’t resist having a picture made with Murph myself. He may not be in the baseball Hall of Fame (yet!), but I told him he was always welcome at ours!!
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.