Steve Dorff and I both graduated from the University of Georgia, we were inducted into the national Songwriters Hall of Fame on the same night, and we got together recently to celebrate our alma mater’s national football championship. While we were at it, Steve produced and played piano while I sang and recorded a new song that we wrote together. As you can tell from this picture, we were all smiles at the end of the day. When can you hear the record? Stay tuned. The second photo is with the legendary keyboard player, Hargus “Pig” Robbins, who passed away on January 30th. Though he was blind from age three, Pig was one of the greatest piano players I’ve ever heard, and with his incredible left hand he could lay a solid rhythm track on any song he tackled. I was lucky enough to have him play on quite a few of my recording sessions over the years, and there was no one better. People don’t always believe me when I tell them that Taylor Swift once came and performed at my fan club party, but here’s proof. It was 2004 at the Old Hickory Country Club outside Nashville. Taylor was 14-years old, and none of us knew at the time what incredible success awaited her just around the corner. My mistake was in not taking her up on an offer to co-write some songs. Had I done so, I’d probably be writing this letter from my yacht in the Caribbean!
You can see from this first picture that Sara Evans became very emotional when I asked her if she would like to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Sara was headlining her own concert at the Ryman when some of us (me, Lady A, and Carly Pearce) broke in to present her with an award and pop this very special question. Sara will be officially inducted into the Opry family on October 7th. The second picture is that of a young Bev Porter as she appeared in her early days as the keyboard player and background vocalist in my Po’ Folks Band. Many of you met Bev and heard her play both at the Opry and on our tours over the years. As I indicated earlier in my letter, she was an important part of all that I did back in the eighties.The third picture was taken backstage at the Opry where I recently had the chance to catch up with Becky Isaacs Bowman of the singing group, The Isaacs. As you probably know, Becky was seriously injured in a head-on car crash back in December and has had to undergo several surgeries and intensive rehab. Her spirit, her faith, and her attitude have not wavered, though, and it was wonderful to share some moments with her. What a light of positivity and optimism she is.
Something must have really tickled Vince Gill as he and Jeannie Seely presented me with a beautifully framed plaque commemorating my 62nd Opry Anniversary…and noting the fact that I have now been a Grand Ole Opry member longer than anyone in history. Notice that beneath his coat Vince is wearing a Bill Anderson t-shirt! In the second picture, Jamey Johnson and I are backstage preparing to cut (and eat!) the attractive and delicious cake the Opry provided for the occasion. And in the last photo, there’s nothing like sharing a special occasion with family members and friends that you love. I’ve said many times that it doesn’t matter what you have or what you achieve in this ol’ world…what matters is who you have beside you. And it meant so much to have all these special folks beside me (and behind me) on this most incredible night.
I was fortunate in that I got to spend time with all three of my children on Father’s Day. Terri (L), Jenni, and I went to church together and had a great Father’s Day buffet lunch afterward. I had pizza with my son, Jamey, at his house that evening. A few days later, I booked a lunch date with my granddaughter, Sophie, and we went shopping after we ate. She loves to read, and picked out a couple of new books. Our oldest fan club member, Bertha Thomas, celebrated birthday #106 last month over in North Carolina. Congratulations, Bertha, and thanks to your daughter, Rebecca, for sharing this picture with us.