Texas Country Music Hall of Fame announces 2017 inductees
By Special to The Panola Watchman
March 31, 2017 at 3:54 p.m.
Kenny Rogers and Bobbie Nelson will be the newest additions to the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in August 2017.
The ceremony/concert will take place on Aug. 12 in Carthage, Texas. Tickets are $60 and will go on sale May 1 at the Panola County Chamber of Commerce in Carthage.
Grammy Award-wining country superstar and music icon Kenny Rogers has enjoyed tremendous success during a storied career spanning nearly six decades.
The enduring superstar has endeared music lovers around the world with his amazing songs, distinctive voice, heartfelt performances, gift for storytelling and universal appeal and in 2016, Rogers embarked on his final world tour, a show to celebrate his musical legacy: The Gambler's Last Deal.
Born in Houston, Texas in 1938, Rogers formed his first band while in high school in 1956, a doo-wop group called the Scholars, and has never quit making music. He charted as a solo artist in the late 50's with "That Crazy Feeling" and performed the song on American Bandstand, played stand-up bass in the jazz group The Bobby Doyle Three, and in 1966 the spotlight started focusing on Rogers when his group at that time, The First Edition (later officially known as Kenny Rogers and the First Edition) scored their first hit, "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)."
It was the Grammy-winning performance of "Lucille" as a solo artist in 1977 that propelled him to super stardom, launching one of the most prosperous careers in the history of music. "Love Or Something Like It" continued Rogers' run of success followed by his smash hit, "The Gambler," a story song so vivid it both delighted fans as well as became a TV movie starring Rogers himself. The movie spawned four follow-ups, making it the longest running miniseries franchise on television, and launched a second career for Rogers as an actor on television and movies including "Coward of the County."
While drawing new listeners and fans to country music in the 1980's, Rogers came to embody the role of the sensitive male, singing such romantic hits as "Through The Years," She Believes In Me," "You Decorated My Life," and "Lady," the biggest song of his career.
Into the late '80s and '90s, in addition to worldwide tours, recording new music and forming his own record label and management company, Rogers established himself as a well-respected photographer, publishing several books. He was even invited to the White House to shoot a portrait of First Lady Hillary Clinton. He also authored several short stories, and appeared off- Broadway in his Christmas musical, The Toy Shoppe, which he subsequently toured.
Rogers has continued his amazing run into the 21st century with a Country Music Hall of Fame induction, a CMA Lifetime Achievement Award, two GRAMMY Award nominations ("Calling Me" with Don Henley and "You Can't Make Old Friends" with Dolly Parton), a CMA Award nomination ("You Can't Make Old Friends" with Dolly Parton), a Gold-certified record (21 Number Ones), and three critically acclaimed albums (Water and Bridges, The Love of God, and You Can't Make Old Friends), considered by Rogers to be some of the very best work of his entire career.
Never one to rest on his laurels, in this current decade, Rogers became a New York Times best- selling author. His autobiography, "Luck or Something Like It – A Memoir," became a New York Times Best Seller shortly after its 2012 release. A producer of several books of photography, Rogers received an Honorary Masters of Photography from the Professional Photographers of America in 2014.
Remaining a popular entertainer around the world, Rogers still loves touring and recording new music. Even so, Rogers came to a conclusion that family is more important than touring at this stage in his career, once he's played the final date of his last world tour. "I've been so lucky to have enjoyed such a long career and to have such amazing support from my fans and all who have helped me along the way, but there comes a time when I need to focus on spending time with my family. My life is about my wife and my 11-year-old twin boys right now. There are a lot of things I want to do together with them to create some special memories. I don't have a bucket list of my own...I have a bucket list of things I want to do with them."
Bobbie Lee Nelson was born in Abbott, Texas in 1931. She is an American pianist and singer, sister of Texas Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Willie Nelson and a member of his band, Willie Nelson and Family, touring full time since 1973.
At the age of five, Bobbie's grandmother started teaching her to play piano on a pump organ, a year later, her grandfather, impressed by her potential talent, bought her a piano for $35. When her brother Willie picked up the guitar, the siblings started trying out popular tunes and gospel favorites together around the house with their grandmother. Soon the Nelsons were performing at Abbott High school functions and at the local Methodist Church.
At the age of 14 Bobbie turned pro and began traveling with evangelists all around the Lone Star State. In 1973, Bobbie and Willie teamed up again to record with Atlantic Records. Taking her first airplane flight, Bobbie met Willie in New York City to play piano on recordings that would later be released on the 1976 album "The Troublemaker", and also joined her brother on the albums "Shotgun Willie" (1973) and "Phases and Stages" (1974). From then on, Bobbie stayed extremely busy keeping up with Willie's frequent touring and recording sessions, occasionally playing with other artists (Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and the Supersuckers to name a few).
In 2008, Bobbie Nelson released her solo debut album, "Audiobiography" and seven years later Bobbie and Willie recorded the album December Day, which was inspired by the jam sessions the siblings often enjoyed while on the bus from one show to another.
The Pioneer award will be presented to Mo Jelaudarzadeh, owner of Mo's Place in Katy, Texas, for many years of helping with the success of Texas Country Music artists. When Mo first came to America, he had nothing but a suitcase and the ambition to achieve the "American Dream." After working as a dishwasher, trying to put himself through college, he was given a chance to be promoted to bartender, where he found his passion to serve people, and fell in love with County Music. Mo was given a chance to bartend at many fine establishments, which led him to finally take the first step in accomplishing his dream of opening Mo's. "I was given many first chances by people who believed in me. And I will never forget the ones who got me to where I am today. This is what I make the effort to do for every person who walks on to this stage. "See the stars of tomorrow at Mo's Place today" is my slogan for a reason, I believe in every one of you, and want to give y'all the first chances I was so graciously given. It's not just business here, we care for and become family with every act we encounter, from the big Nashville Acts, to our local Hometown Bands, we welcome each one of you home."
Tracy Pitcox will be inducted into the Disc Jockey Wall of Fame. Tracy Pitcox was born and raised in Brady, Texas, and attended Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. He has been employed by KNEL radio since 1986. He owns Heart of Texas Records, Heart of Texas Recording Studio, Pitcox Rental and Storage Buildings and the Heart of Texas Events Center. He is also president of the 1,000 member Heart of Texas Country Music Association and the Heart of Texas Country Music Museum. Tracy's radio show "Hillbilly Hits" provides traditional country fans with an opportunity to hear their beloved music.
Special guests for the Saturday, Aug. 12 Induction show will include Emcee Tracy Byrd, TG Sheppard, Kelly Lang, Dallas Wayne, Linda Davis, Voice Impressionist-Comedian Johnny Counterfit and others to be announced.
John Ritter Tribute Showcase auditions will be June 24 at the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame with 30 chosen to move on to the finals on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017 with emcee Linda Davis. Tickets for The John Ritter Tribute Showcase are $15 and are on sale at the Panola County Chamber of Commerce beginning May 1.