Nashville to pay tribute to its greats

Gene Stuart
Gene Stuart

The American Country Music Association marks its 50th anniversary in Nashville next Wednesday with a glittering awards evening that will look back at some of the great names who were recognised down the years for their classic hit recordings.

The CMA board have invited seven former Entertainer of the Year winners to perform on stage as part of this year’s presentation of accolades.

George Strait, Alan Jackson, Charley Pride, the Alabama group, Brooks & Dunn duo, Vince Gill and Reba McEntire are set to appear on the show at Bridgestone Arena.

All seven acts also participated in Forever Country, a televised tribute to the prestigious CMA awards which featured 30 CMA award-winning acts in a medley of John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads, Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again and Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You.

Of those performing on the awards shows, three are three-time winners of the CMA’s entertainer of the year award — Alabama (1982-1984), Jackson (1995, 2002, 2003) and Strait (1989, 1990, 2013). Gill has received the top honour twice — in (1993, 1994). Brooks & Dunn won in 1996, Pride in 1971 and McEntire in 1986.

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will again host this year’s CMA awards, with the ceremony broadcast live on the ABC television network.

* Saddened to learn of the death this week of BOBBY VEE, the American rockabilly singer who stood in for Buddy Holly the night the iconic Texan was killed in a plane crash in February 1959.

Vee, born in North Dakota of Scandinavian roots, was of a generation of US singers who emerged in the late 1950s when Elvis Presley turned the pop music world upside down with his dynamic rock ‘n’ roll sounds. Bobby’s music was described by Bob Dylan “as musical as a silver bell” and among his biggest hits were Rubber Ball, Take Good Care of My Baby, and The Night Has A Thousand Eyes.

In the few years after Buddy Holly’s death, Vee worked with Holly’s bass player and future country star the late Waylon Jennings, and with Jerry Allison and Sonny Curtis, from Buddy’s group The Crickets. A regular visitor to the UK, Vee also appeared in several movies with British singing stars Billy Fury and Helen Shapiro.

* The family of late country ‘n’ Irish singer GENE STUART are fulfilling his dying wish by releasing a DVD of songs which the Tyrone man personally produced and filmed in the final months before his death of cancer last February.

Husky-voiced Gene became one of the most popular and respected country singers in Ireland, after getting his big career break in 1969 when he successfully auditioned to become lead vocalist with The Mighty Avons showband after former lead vocalist Larry Cunningham went solo.

Gene, a genial giant, later formed his own country band The Homesteaders and he toured extensively while releasing hit recordings that included Old Fashioned Girl, I’m Just Lucky I Guess, Dim Lights and Country Music, and Sing Your Heart Out Country Boy. He recorded 20 albums, including several in Nashville. With his deep tenor/baritone voice, Gene was one of the few country ‘n’ Irish singers I consider would have made it in Nashville. The others, in my view, were Brian Coll and Sandy Kelly

The 12-track DVD, titled The Corner of My Life, is available at music shops across Northern Ireland; online from andfrom Stewart’s Music Store in Dungannon.