Diane’s Country Music Newsletter — 16 June 2021


The 32nd annual National Memorial Day Concert on PBS, which ran for 90 minutes and was cohosted by actors Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise, featured several country music performers. Mickey Guyton sang the National Anthem. Alan Jackson sang his “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).” Vince Gill, on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, sang his “Go Rest High on That Mountain.”

The 2021 Country Radio Hall of Fame inductees, announced by Country Radio Broadcasters, consist of four off-air radio broadcasters and four on-air radio personalities. The off-air honorees are Bob Call, RJ Curtis, Bill Hagy, and Norm Schrutt. The on-air honorees are Heather Froglear, Buzz Jackson, Bob Pickett, and Angie Ward. MusicRow explains, “The Country Radio Hall of Fame recognizes those individuals who have made significant contributions to the radio industry over a 20-year period, 15 of which must be in the country format.” The Country Radio Hall of Fame induction and dinner will be held October 13 at the Westin Nashville.

The 2021 CMT Music Awards show, which aired in Nashville on June 9, included a new category this year. CMT News describes the “Best Family Feature” nominees as “heart-warming and intimate music videos centered around the love country music stars have for their families.” Taylor Swift won for “The Best Day (Taylor’s Version).” The major award of the evening, “Video of the Year,” went to Carrie Underwood and John Legend for “Hallelujah.” Carrie is the event’s most-awarded artist. Voting for Video of the Year remained open throughout the broadcast and was conducted via Twitter. The CMT Music Awards is country music’s only entirely fan-voted awards show. Who remembers the first one–Faron Young’s Music City News Awards show?

During the 2021 CMT Music Awards show, Linda Martell, 80, was presented with the second annual CMT Equal Play Award, which recognized her legacy as one of country music’s first prominent black female artists. In 1969, she had been the first black female solo country artist to perform on the Grand Ole Opry. Her debut single, “Color Him Father,” reached No. 22 on Billboard’s Country Songs chart in 1970. The Tennessean reports she retired from the music business in the mid-’70s. Her granddaughter recently raised $21,645 in a $20,000 GoFundMe campaign to produce a documentary about her life and career. 

In 1986, Warner Bros. Records released Storms of Life, the debut album of Randy Travis. The triple-platinum, award-winning album–the first of five consecutive No. 1 albums by Randy–is being rereleased. Warner Music Nashville will issue Storms of Life (35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) on September 24, with pre-order beginning August 27. According to a press release, it will include remastered versions of all ten original tracks plus three unreleased songs found in the vault. Kyle Lehning produced all the tracks, with co-production by Keith Stegall on “Reasons I Cheat” and “On the Other Hand.” The three previously unreleased recordings include “Ain’t No Use,” written by Randy Bruce Traywick (before he became Randy Travis) and appearing on the 1983 self-produced album, Randy Ray Live at the Nashville Palace. The other two songs are “Carryin’ Fire” and “The Wall.”

For $3,300 a night, you can rent the former home of Reba McEntire. She bought the 83-acre lakefront estate in Lebanon, Tennessee, in 1990 and named it Starstruck Farm. Nashville businessman Deron Lichte purchased it from her several years ago for $5 million. He converted it into the Estate at Cherokee Dock, a luxury event venue for weddings and other celebrations, both corporate and private. According to CMT News, the bedrooms in the 12,816-square-foot mansion on Old Hickory Lake are themed to pay tribute to Reba, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Johnny Cash.

When Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood recently co-hosted the Ellen DeGeneres Show, they talked about their fifteen years of marriage and then took relationship questions from the virtual audience. Taste of Country reports that Garth sang a song he wrote for the occasion. The refrain ends with: “Only one thing to remember / The wife is always right.” Here’s the segment: https://youtu.be/QrJgNF_R9MI

Kane Brown signed Restless Road as the first performers on his 1021 Entertainment label, and he joined the country trio for a tribute to Randy Travis. They sang “Three Wooden Crosses,” “Diggin’ Up Bones,” “Deeper Than The Holler,” and “Forever And Ever, Amen.” CMT News reports, “The performance again highlights just how close in sound Brown’s voice is to Travis’, and as well, how timeless Travis’ hits are more than three decades later.”

Casa Rosa Tex-Mex Cantina in Nashville opened its big pink and black doors to the public on May 27. Two nights earlier, during a friends-and-family opening, owner Miranda Lambert took the stage with her husband, Brendan McLoughlin, to sing “Summer Nights” from Grease. Casa Rosa is located on Lower Broadway, next to Tin Roof and across from Jason Aldean’s Kitchen + Rooftop Bar.

CMT News reports Shania Twain is currently in the studio recording album number six, which she hopes to release before Christmas. “COVID has created some timing issues because it’s been very difficult to get together with producers and musicians in the same room,” she says. “I’m definitely on a mission to make the best album I’ve ever made. So please be patient. I want it to be worth waiting for.” She will resume her Let’s Go! Las Vegas residency in December, more than a year after halting it due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patrons at the newly opened Dick’s House of Sport at West Town Mall in Knoxville, Tennessee, were surprised when Carrie Underwood showed up to lead them through a workout inspired by her fitness app, fit52, reports WATE-TV. Carrie is the founder and lead designer of CALIA, a fitness clothing and workout gear brand sold at Dick’s Sporting Goods. “My wife and daughter are griping because they barely missed her at the mall,” Douglas Joe Guy wrote when he emailed me the article.

Barbra Streisand is finally issuing the duet she recorded with Willie Nelson in 2014. According to CMT News, “I’d Want It To Be You” was intended for her 2014 album Partners, a collection of duets with male singers. It will be included on her upcoming album, Release Me 2, set for release August 6. Bobby Tomberlin wrote the song with Steve Dorff and Jay Landers.

Coteau Entertainment has begun booking again at the Sisseton Performing Arts Center in Sisseton, South Dakota. Suzy Bogguss will be there Sunday, September 12, Jimmy Fortune on Sunday, October 17, and Gene Watson on Saturday, November 13. Just Between Friends, the band that has always opened the show, is taking a break. The new opening act will be Remington, five of the nine original JBF members.

The State of Tennessee honored pianist Hargus “Pig” Robbins with the installation of a “Tennessee Music Pathways” marker in his hometown of Spring City on June 12. According to The Chattanoogan, the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development launched Tennessee Music Pathways in 2018 as an online planning guide that connects visitors to the state’s musical heritage. It stretches across all 95 counties and features hundreds of landmarks. Pig was born in Spring City in 1938, and he accidentally blinded himself in one eye when he fell onto a knife. By age four, he was completely blind. At six years old, he was sent to the Tennessee School for the Blind in Donelson and began learning piano.

An invitation to a political fundraiser for Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota listed Reba McEntire and Red Steagall as special guests, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports. Reba issued a response on Twitter, saying the invitation “was sent out without my knowledge or permission. I had and have no plans to attend this event and had told the event organizers as such.” She added, “Throughout my career, I have stated that I do not get involved in politics and that remains true today.” There’s apparently been no response from Red. A co-host for the barbeque fundraiser at a ranch near Bozeman, Montana, said he was unsure who organized the event. Noem’s spokesman said standard operating procedures for confirming hosts and guests were followed. “I’d add that the governor is a huge fan of Reba,” he said.


Jeannie Seely writes from Nashville, “Thanks for always mentioning my ‘doings’🥰. And I was thrilled to get the best standing ovation ever!!👏👏. Just hosted an hour special on the new commemorative vinyl on the Opry UNBROKEN with several artists who performed during the empty auditorium era on SiriusXM Willie’s Roadhouse. Let me know if you would like more info. Take care.”

Eric Calhoun says, “A comment on the passing of B.J. Thomas. Sometime in 2013, I went out to Woodland Hills, California, and attended a Concert in the Park (also called Concerts on the Green). B.J. was one of the acts for that summer. I loved his songs, and his music, and met him. Wow! Two Texans gone in 3 years from the Metroplex, Bob Kingsley and B.J. Thomas. One of my favorite songs from B.J. was his version of ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.’ A great entertainer, showman, and all-around great guy. B.J. will be entertaining up in Heaven, and he was a great performer.”

Terry Beene writes from Missouri, “Just a note to let everyone know Leona Williams is in the studio recording a new CD with producer Chuck Hancock recording at SMS studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee. It’s a classic country CD with Chuck doing a duet with Leona. Also, some songs written by Chuck should be out soon. Chuck Hancock is an award-winning Gospel artist producer and along with Barbara Fairchild he is the host of the Branson Terry Music Awards in Branson, Missouri, which will be September 26, 2021. Look for a great Classic Country CD by one of the greatest country singers of all time, Leona Williams.”

Ivan Salinas says, “Glad I didn’t flash over this month’s newsletter. Much Info. Good Stuff. Thank You for your Time and Info.”

Dave Barton in Franklin, Kentucky, suggests, “If you want to know more about who was the first black female country singer, look up Ruby Falls.”

Diane: Ruby Falls had nine singles on Billboard from 1975-1979. Linda Martell had three in 1969-70. Ruby Falls was the stage name of Bertha Bearden Dorsey from Jackson, Tennessee. In 1974, she began touring with Justin Tubb. She later toured with Faron Young and others, as well as appearing on several TV shows. She was nominated in 1975 for Most Promising Female Artist on the Music City News Awards show; Crystal Gayle won. In 1986, Ruby died at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville of a brain hemorrhage at age 40.

Debora Thomas says, “Wow what a nice tribute to Elvis.”

Alan Roeder in Clemson, South Carolina, requests, “Please add me to your list.”

Suzy Barnes asks, “Please add me to your mailing list.”

Bobby Fischer writes from Nashville, “Great newsletter it keeps us up to speed on happenings. Saw the info about Ed Bruce what a great guy and talent. When I first got to Nashville, he had a TV show on WSM. Jack Barlow took me along on the early show as he was performing on it. He went over and talked to Ed. Ed nodded. Jack came back over and said Ed is letting you sing one this morning. I was very nervous. Years later he rented an office space from me for a new publishing co he started. Also you mentioned the great Leroy Van Dyke. I wrote this song story a while back. One more of my heroes I got to know. Thanks again for all the good you’re doing with your newsletter. Like a lot of country music guys, I learned the current country songs when I had my bands in the Midwest and played them in the nightclubs. I tried to sing like George Jones, Eddy Arnold, Faron Young, Leroy Van Dyke and others. A couple of Leroy’s songs learned were ‘The Auctioneer’ and ‘Walk on By.’ They were playing on country radio. When I got to Nashville, my hope was to try to get a song recorded by that kind of country names. I was signed to Terrace Music Publishing. Ricci Mareno was the top guy. Charlie Black and Jerry Gillespie were writer/producers there. Ricci told me we were going to have Leroy as an artist along with Tommy Overstreet who was hitting good nationally. Ricci said to write a song Leroy might choose to record. I got on it. The groove and production Charlie was using on Overstreet was taking him to the top. I wrote one I thought fit that kind of groove staying with the honky tonkin wildlife kind radio was playing: ‘Unfaithful Fools.’ Leroy recorded it and it was a single release. It got into the hot one hundred. He also cut another song of mine on that session: ‘Love Isn’t Love (Till You Give It Away).’ I was a happy camper. Got to be pals with Leroy, and of course Charlie was a lifelong pal of mine (also to anyone who knows him).

Bobby Fischer, Charlie Black, Leroy Van Dyke, Jerry Gillespie, Ricci Mareno

Dominique ‘Imperial’ Anglares writes from France, “Thanks for the newsletter and for the room given to my words about Linda Martell and Jimmy Lee Fautheree. The mention given to my friend Glenn Douglas’ passing was much appreciated. I came in touch with Glenn in April 2011. Since we had a steady correspondence about his musical work and all the friends he got all along the way. He shared with me memories about Roy Duke, The Maddox Brothers and Rose, Ronnie Self, Wayne P. Walker, Goldie Hill, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Red Sovine, Hank Williams Sr and many others. Here are Glenn’s own words sent to me that said it all: ‘We don’t have nearly enough guys like Carl and Johnny Cash and Uncle Ernest. It’s almost like the Lord just decided to quit making good ones like that. But we were blessed to have them with us for a while and they left us their music, so they are not really gone. What a fantastic show the Lord has in Heaven now. He has more of them up there than we have down here. Maybe he’ll come and take the rest of us home before too much longer.’ My friend Glenn received a call from Heaven. I will remember him and keep playing his songs. Warmest regards from your French friend.”

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