August went out with a bang and now, following Labor Day, here comes September in with a roar. Things are never dull in Whisperville.
I guess by now most of you have seen the footage of my asking Sara Evans if she would like to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry last month. I flew home early from a business trip to California in order to be the one to pop the question, and it was so worth it. The look on Sara’s face and the tears in her eyes told me how much it meant to her, and on October 7th her lifelong dream of Opry membership will come true. That’s the night she will be formally inducted, and it comes during the Opry’s 98th birthday celebration. I hope lots of you can come be with us or at least tune into the festivities.
Sara becomes the fourth artist to whom I have personally extended an Opry membership invitation….joining Brad Paisley, Mel Tillis, and Jamey Johnson. Each of the others has made me awfully proud over the years, and I’m sure Sara will do the same.
What else is going on? Well, my big September weekend will be the 15th and 16th of the month when I will perform on the Friday Opry and then take part in an exciting program inside the Ford Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame the following afternoon. It will be a panel discussion called Opry Memories with Bill Anderson, and will feature myself, Jeannie Seely, Mark Wills, and former Opry general manager, Bud Wendell, talking about what the Opry has meant in each of our lives. The panel will be moderated by the Hall’s Paul Kingsbury and followed by a meet ‘n greet with the fans and all the participants afterward. Several of you have told me that you’ve already gotten your tickets and made your plans for a “wild weekend,” and I hope more of you will join us. Hurry, though, because I’m told it’s almost sold out.
I can’t tell you how many people have congratulated me recently on my becoming the oldest member of the Grand Ole Opry. NO…NO…NO…I am not the oldest member. I know of at least four members who are older than I am. What we were celebrating a few weeks ago was my becoming the LONGEST SERVING member of the Opry in the show’s history. I’ve simply been an Opry member for over 62 consecutive years, longer than any other performer in history. Please don’t try making me any older than I am!
On a more somber note, we have had to say goodbye recently to two ladies who were each, in their own way, a big part of my career back in the day. Bev Porter who played keyboards and sang back-up vocals with my Po’ Folks Band in the eighties, passed away last month from a rare type of leukemia that went undetected until it was too late. She was 67. And Jeanne Chennault, whom some of you knew as Jeanne Gaddis, died Labor Day weekend at the age of 94 near her home in Texas. Jeanne worked for me for 24-years, serving as both my secretary and fan club president. She was the mother of my longtime assistant, Kathy Gaddy. Both Bev and Jeanne contributed so much to my life and my career. They will both be missed.
I had planned to spend the last few days of August and the early days of September relaxing amid the surf and sand in Florida, but unfortunately, a hurricane named Idalia had a similar idea. She was bigger and stronger than me, so I let her have the territory at first. I just relaxed at home until she moved out and I could move in. Hopefully, I’ll arrive home refreshed and ready to climb back in the saddle. Lots of things involving new music are on the horizon, and I hope it won’t be long before I can share some of them with you.
Have a great month with whatever is on your plate, and we’ll see you back here in my favorite month of October. As always, thanks for everything….