Nashville Will Give Music Legends Their Time To Shine

This appeared in The Tennessean - April 19, 2007

Historically a West Coast organization, the Academy of Country Music will honor its latest crop of lifetime awards recipients not in Los Angeles or the ACM's awards show's home of Las Vegas, but in Music City.

Harlan Howard, Waylon Jennings, Jack Lameier, Buck Owens, Dolly Parton and Don Williams will be honored Wednesday, June 20, 2007 at the Tennessee State Museum, with a rhinestone-friendly exhibit called "Sparkle & Twang: Marty Stuart's American Musical Odyssey" as the backdrop.

"This is the ultimate accolade given by the Academy of Country Music, a most legitimate source," said Stuart, who serves on the Academy's special awards committee.

TV time is limited

The award is the ACM's equivalent of the Country Music Association's Country Music Hall of Fame honor. As is the case with the CMA's new hall inductees, there will be some acknowledgement of these country stars and industry leaders during the ACM show on May 15, 2007.

But, as is the case with the CMA, the ACM's show producers are finding it harder to find television time to center on their historical awards.

"I started noticing the problem when (Hall inductee) Carl Smith was asked to come and just stand up on the CMA show a few years ago," Stuart said. "It felt out of balance, and I was embarrassed. The ACM is struggling with the same thing: trying to give the honor due and do the respectful thing. But one more time, it's heart and soul versus commerce. Everybody's looking for the right balance, and I think this event at the Tennessee State Museum is a great step to solving the problem."

Stuart noted that the ceremony should be something akin to the CMA's Medallion Ceremony, which honors Hall inductees with a party at the Hall of Fame.

"The bad news is, I don't know if there's going to be much time on TV anymore for these things," Stuart said. "The good news is, everybody is working for the right solution."

Winners a diverse group

This year's crop of ACM honorees is a diverse group of musical contributors:

Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award winners, presented to the pioneers of country music

• Harlan Howard stands as one of the most influential and prolific songwriters in country music history. He wrote more than 4,000 songs, and his works were recorded by artists such as Patsy Cline, Ray Charles and Reba McEntire. His classic compositions include "I Fall To Pieces," "Heartaches By The Number" and "Life Turned Her That Way." He also was a friend and mentor to numerous other Nashville songsmiths.

• Waylon Jennings' music helped define country's Outlaw Movement. Jennings, a ragged, guitar-playing maverick, was part of country's first platinum-selling album (Wanted: The Outlaws), and he has influenced thousands of musical followers.

• Tennesssee-reared Dolly Parton is one of the best-known and most important female singer-songwriters of all time. A philanthropist whose work has put books into the hands of thousands of schoolchildren across the nation, she is a songwriter with credits including "I Will Always Love You," "My Tennessee Mountain Home" and "Jolene." Last year, she was awarded a Kennedy Center Honor, the nation's highest arts award.

• Don Williams' gentle voice and instantly identifiable style made him an international superstar. He scored 17 No. 1 country hits ("I Believe In You" and "Tulsa Time" among them), and his music bridged folk and country styles.

Jim Reeves International Award, for contribution of the acceptance of country music throughout the world

• Buck Owens is a Country Music Hall of Famer and one of country's most revered figures. His exciting brand of country included tight harmonies and prominent steel and electric guitar. He is a primary influence to modern-day stars including Dwight Yoakam and Brad Paisley.

Mae Boran Axton Award, for years of dedication and service by an outstanding individual to the Academy of Country Music

• Jack Lameier spent more than 40 years at Columbia and Sony Records, working to promote records to country radio from artists including Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Tammy Wynette. He served on the ACM committee for 28 years. For two years, he was president of that committee.

By Peter Cooper

Reader's comment:

"There is true excellence in country music: Alison Krause's band, Rodney Crowell, and Marty Stuart himself, one of the best ever. And others.

Crowell's stubborn refusal to quit recording inferior material (crap) assures he will not be awarded a Johnny Cash type award. More is the pity.

Stuart is one of the most gifted musicians ever to appear on the scene, hampered somewhat by playing
a non-musical instrument.

In looking at the list to be honored, one sees entertainers ...., but not top drawer country music excellence."

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