Redneck Of The Woods
Matt Westin was born and raised in a blue collar family in a middle class suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. From a young age, he pursued various passions, including academics, sports, acting, and music. After years of searching, Matt found true fulfillment in the creative outlets of acting and singing, dedicating himself to his artistic pursuits, and walking away from a promising career in engineering. With the influences of many legendary artists, ranging from Johnny Cash to Garth Brooks, “all the way” to Frank Sinatra, Matt found his voice. The thrill of live performance fed his desires, as he honed his vocal ability in bars and clubs around Pittsburgh for over a decade. His obvious drive and talent quickly won over his family’s initial disapproval of his walking away from an engineering career, and they became his biggest supporters. Tragically, after a bravely fought battle with Leukemia, Matt’s father succumbed to complications of chemotherapy, in April 2016. As a true family man, Matt was utterly devastated and struggled day to day with the reality of his father’s death. After months of depression, instead of self-destructing, Matt decided to honor his father’s memory, by finally pursuing his music career, as his father had encouraged.
Deciding to make a country record in his father’s honor, and being introduced by a mutual friend, to world-class musician/songwriter/producer Bryan Cole, the stage was set. Bryan took on the project as producer, believing in his talent and vision, and guiding Matt in making a first-class country record. Bryan recruited long-time friend and mix engineer, Doug Kasper to record and mix the record at nearby Tonic Recording Studios. With radio-ready songs, legendary musicians Mike Brignardello (Big & Rich, Blake Shelton, bass) and Steve Hinson (Dolly Parton, Luke Bryan, steel guitar), and an amazing up- and-coming musician, Adam Ernst, Matt dedicated an entire year to making the record he and his father would be proud of.
Check out more of Matt Westin’s music.
Download Redneck Of The Woods or Legacy Now
NASHVILLE — CMA joined with Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. Monday at Ascend Amphitheater to offer the Nashville community the opportunity to honor victims of the Las Vegas shooting.
Speakers included Barry; Sidney Cox, The Cox Family; Charles Esten, star of CMT’s “Nashville;” Amy Grant; and Sally Williams, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Grand Ole Opry, and CMA Board Chairman.
The candlelight vigil also included performances by Vince Gill (“Go Rest High On That Mountain”), Alison Krauss with Barry Bales, Ron Block, and Sidney and Suzanne Cox (“Amazing Grace”), and Keith Urban (“Bridge Over Troubled Water”).
Although the windy evening prevented a full candlelight glow from the crowd, Esten closed the program by urging the community to let their lights shine from within and support one another.
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT) has setup the Music City Cares Fund, with 100 percent of donations going to help immediate and long-term needs of victims from the shooting. Click here to learn more.
2017 CMA MUSIC FESTIVAL DELIVERS WITH CAPACITY CROWDS, SOLD OUT NIGHTLY CONCERTS, AND HIGHEST FAN ENGAGEMENT IN 46-YEAR HISTORY OF MUSIC EVENT OF SUMMER
2018 CMA Music Festival Pre-Sales Begin June 19, National On-Sale Launches June 27
NASHVILLE – The 46th year of CMA Music Festival, the Music Event of Summer, drew sold-out crowds to the Nightly Concerts at Nissan Stadium, capacity crowds at Chevrolet Riverfront Stage and the Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage at Ascend Amphitheater, and largest fan engagement by Country Music fans in the event’s history from visitors from all 50 states and at least 18 international countries.
The excitement in downtown Nashville includes 11 stages, seven of which are free of charge to the public, and offers 167 hours of music from 350 plus artists and over 1,100 musicians.
The Cracker Barrel Country Roads stage at Ascend Amphitheater, headlined by Big & Rich, Sara Evans, Hunter Hayes, and Dan + Shay, as well as the daytime Chevrolet Riverfront Stage, hit capacity numbers repeatedly over the course of the four-day event. Halfway through Old Dominion’s CMA Fest kick-off set Thursday morning in Riverfront Park, entry was briefly halted due to the volume of excited fans pouring in. Gates re-opened after each postponement.
On Wednesday night prior to CMA Music Festival’s official kick-off, CMA partnered with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to host a surprise Jason Aldeanconcert replete with fireworks at the Chevrolet Park Stage in honor of his Asphalt Cowboy featured exhibit.
In a thrilling and emotional surprise appearance, 2016 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Randy Travis joinedMichael Ray Thursday on the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage for a moving performance of his CMA Award-winning No. 1 smash “Forever & Ever, Amen.”
In another stunning surprise, reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Garth Brooks brought the packed house at Nissan Stadium to a roar with a medley of his classics, including “Friends in Low Places” and “The Thunder Rolls,” as well as his newest single “Ask Me How I Know.” This marks Brooks’ first CMA Fest appearance in nearly 20 years.
Three-hour ABC TV Special “CMA Fest” Airs Aug. 16
XFINITY Fan Fair X at the expansive 350,000 square foot Music City Center launched each day with Artists of the Day that included Hunter Hayes, Martina McBride, and Jake Owen. Saturday’s Artists of the Day Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood drew an unprecedented crowd to the CMA Close Up Stage with CMA Awards Executive Producer Robert Deaton to share the behind-the-scenes process of prepping for Country Music’s Biggest Night™. The superstars then revealed they’ll be returning to host for the 10th consecutive year at this year’s “The 51st CMA Awards” live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena Wednesday, Nov. 8. The three-hour telecast begins at 8:00 PM/ET on the ABC Television Network.
The panel was livestreamed and can be viewed on Billboard.com. Fans have flocked online to view the livestream as well as a highlights video of Brad and Carrie’s most memorable hosting moments that debuted during the discussion panel. The pair of videos has already been viewed nearly one million times across the internet and social platforms after just two days.
The Budweiser “Forever Country” Park Stage was a hit with fans of all ages as timeless Country stars such as Tracy Lawrence, Little Texas, Restless Heart, Daryl Worley, and others carried the crowd with countless hits as they enjoyed games and activities like cornhole presented by Budweiser, and rocking chairs provided by Cracker Barrel.
“This is definitely one for the record books,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “This year’s Festival was marked with memorable moments and one-of-a-kind experiences. We’re happy how fans embraced not only our new stages, but also the city during an exciting historic Stanley Cup run for the Nashville Predators.”
CMA Music Fest fan engagement across the board was at an all-time high. The official free CMA Music Festival app was accessed throughout the four-day event by over 48,000 users besting the previous year by 25 percent. The average time spent per visit on the app was up over 41 percent. CMA Fan Access users were up 62 percent and CMA Fan Access engagements were up over 183 percent. The volume of social posts from Twitter and Instagram, powered by Sprinklr, were featured on the screens at six different stages, including Nissan Stadium, which saw an increase of 116 percent in social interactions.
This year, CMA implemented Budweiser FastBar at the Festival. Attendees clamored for the RFID wristband which offers easy access to purchase beverages across the downtown footprint by registering a method of payment and Driver’s License, and scanning in at various purchase points, eliminating having to present cash or a credit card every time. As a result, total beer sales increased by 126 percent.
The newly created VIP Nash Pass was also in high demand. All 1,500 $50 passes, which offered early access to the Ascend Amphitheater performances, sold out before the start of the Festival. Nash Pass also included admission to XFINITY Fan Fair X, as well as tours of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and Ryman Auditorium during the Festival.
Corporate brand and marketing partnerships are a key element to the fan experience, and support the Festival. This year, there were 84 partner activations, up 68 percent from 2016. Digital partner collaborations included Amazon Music, Billboard, Facebook, Pandora, and Vevo, and were complimented by marketing and media efforts by ABC, The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Cumulus, Escape Game, Grand Ole Opry, HGTV, iHeart, JACK FM 96.3, Jesus Calling, Mix 92.9, NASH, NASH Icon, PBR, PEOPLE, Radio Disney, RFD-TV, Sirius XM, WKRN, World Market, WSIX, and Yelp to enhance the overall Festival experience and exposure.
“The quality of digital and marketing partnerships this year, combined with the heightened fan engagement, speaks to the relevance and reach of Country Music,” said Damon Whiteside, CMA Chief Marketing Officer.
Key attendee statistics:
- The percentage of returning attendees held steady at 48 percent. Among four-day passholders, the returning attendee level is even higher at 51 percent returning for 2017
- Gen X and Millennials now make up the biggest base of Festival fans with equal shares of attendees from both of these coveted fan demos
- Millennials, attendees ages 18-34, delivered a key segment for new attendees with a share of 57 percent attending for the first time compared to 52 percent across all age ranges
Preliminary attendee stats for this year’s Festival are based on attendee registration data via CMA Fest Fan Access.
“CMA Music Festival continues to attract a loyal and engaged audience that is evolving both demographically and in breadth of interest across all types of Country Music,” said Karen Stump, CMA Senior Director of Market Research. “It’s our fan base that is key to supporting the success stories from this year’s event.”
2017 CMA Music Festival merchandise sales of items such as tees, tanks, hats, accessories, and youth items are up over 2016, and e-commerce pre-orders are up over 400 percent. Official CMA Music Festival merchandise is still available here while quantities last. Fans can also purchase the special edition event tee that was previously only available onsite at the Festival.
CMA Music Festival directly benefits music education programs across the country, as every artist at the Festival donates their time, performing for free. The result of that generosity is that Festival proceeds support in- and after-school programs touching the lives of 1 million students nationwide through the work of the CMA Foundation.
Artists Kelsea Ballerini, Brooks, Evans, Scotty McCreery, and more demonstrated their commitment to music education across the event.
Brooks popped up at the HGTV Lodge with Trisha Yearwood to announce the cable network’s donation to the CMA Foundation and meet local CMA Music Teachers of Excellence Thursday afternoon prior to his surprise Nissan Stadium performance.
On Saturday, McCreery’s fan club presented the CMA Foundation with a donation on the singer’s behalf. McCreery in turn received the limited-edition CMA ADVOCATE key from The Giving Keys. The ADVOCATE key launched exclusively inside XFINITY Fan Fair X and is available for purchase now on The Giving Keys website. A portion of all sales benefits the CMA Foundation. Other artists presented the ADVOCATE key include Little Big Town and Thomas Rhett.
Bobcat Company, the choral group from Ballerini’s alma mater (Central High School in Knoxville, Tenn.), performed the national anthem at Saturday’s Nightly Concert at Nissan Stadium. Earlier in the day, the “CMA Fest” host surprised students during their rehearsal time.
Evans and ONEHOPE Wine, which creates award-winning wine that empowers people to do more good in the world with everyday actions, joined forces to develop the ONEHOPE Sara Evans Signature Series 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which was available at the ONEHOPE booth inside XFINITY Fan Fair X. Evans debuted the wine during a pre-Fest event Wednesday. Every purchase of the limited-edition bottle will benefit the CMA Foundation.
Also in XFINITY Fan Fair X was the CMA Foundation Celebrity auction. Fans bid on memorabilia and autographed items including CMA Awards posters and program books, CMA Fest commemorative drum heads, and more, raising nearly $50,000.
Fans also got in on the action by participating in the Cracker Barrel Rock-a-Thon, which saw 644 signature Cracker Barrel rocking chairs throughout the Festival (in honor of the number of Cracker Barrel restaurants nationwide), challenging fans to reach 150,000 rocks. They rose to the occasion and in return, Cracker Barrel donated $15,000 to the Foundation. Hayes presented the check to the CMA Foundation on behalf of Cracker Barrel prior to his Saturday night set on the Cracker Barrel Country Roads Stage.
National and international media alike flocked to Music City to cover CMA Music Festival. The event drew approximately 650 domestic media representing 233 outlets, including ABC’s annual Robin Roberts CMA Awards Week Special, Billboard, BuzzFeed, E!, “Extra!,” “Good Morning America,” NBC Sports Network, The NHL Network, PEOPLE, Rolling Stone, and NPR, to name a few.
Sixty-three media representatives from 32 international outlets, such as BBC Radio 2, UK; ZDF, Germany; RTL, France; MBS, Canada; and DPA, Germany, with coverage in the following 20 countries, also descended on Nashville: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.
BBC Radio 2, with over 15 million listeners, will broadcast four one-hour specials in October as a lead into the 2017 CMA Awards.
The previously-announced three-hour ABC Television Network special, “CMA Fest,” co-hosted by Thomas Rhett and Ballerini, airs Wednesday, Aug. 16 at 8:00 PM/ET. The special debuted in 2004 and is helmed by Deaton.
Tickets for the 2018 CMA Music Festival, which is Thursday, June 7 through Sunday, June 10, go on pre-sale Monday, June 19. The national on-sale date is Tuesday, June 27. Order tickets online or call the CMA Box Office at 1-800-CMA-FEST (1-800-262-3378).
For CMA Fest news and information, stay connected onCMAfest.com, Facebook.com/CMA,Twitter.com/CountryMusic, Instagram.com/CMA, “CMAsnaps” on Snapchat, and sign up for CMA Country Connection, CMA’s e-newsletter.
CMA Music Festival is organized and produced by the Country Music Association. Fan Fair® is a registered trademark of WSM, Incorporated and is used by permission.
2017 CMA Music Festival merchandise sales of items such as tees, tanks, hats, accessories, and youth items are up over 2016, and e-commerce pre-orders are up over 400 percent. Official CMA Music Festival merchandise is still available here while quantities last. Fans can now also purchase the special edition event tee that was previously only available onsite at the Festival.
On March 29th 2016 CMA Announced the Country Music Hall Of Fame Inductees
In an unprecedented live streaming event held for this years inductee event at the country music hall of fame, Nashville Rocks embedded the live streaming feed into the website. During that event, the new class of 2016 was inducted. The event was hosted by Hall of Famer Brenda Lee. She is still so cute. It was great when I noticed they brought out an apple box for her to stand on. I never realized she was so tiny.
Three new members were added and you would think that they were already members because it was so obvious that they should be there.
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Following is the CMA press release in full for the event:
NASHVILLE – The Country Music Association announced today that Charlie Daniels, Fred Foster, and Randy Travis will become the newest members of the revered Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016.
Daniels will be inducted in the “Veterans Era Artist” category, while Travis will be inducted in the “Modern Era Artist” category. Foster will be inducted in the “Non-Performer” category, which is awarded every third year in a rotation with the “Recording and/or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980” and “Songwriter” categories. Daniels, Foster, and Travis will increase membership in the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame from 127 to 130 members. It is the first time that all of the inductees hail from the same state (North Carolina) since 1985.
“Each year, the announcement of the new Country Music Hall of Fame inductees is always a cause for celebration,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “This year’s class features three individuals who are revered for their respect of Country Music’s deep traditions, but are equally regarded for forging their own unique paths, taking the industry in new directions, and growing the fan base.”
“I have harbored many lofty ambitions, but I was almost afraid to dream that I would ever be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, what a surprise, what a blessing. Thank you God,” said Daniels.
“The halls of fame are built for, and by, those that make a difference in their chosen career,” said Travis. “I chose a career that I loved – and, it made a difference in me! My greatest joy was sharing my song and my God-given talent with family, friends, fans, and the industry. Thank you for giving me the chance, for believing in me along the way, and for allowing me to ‘hang my hat’ alongside some of my greatest heroes. I am honored to join those before me, and humbled to go ahead of those that will follow into Country Music’s Hall of Fame: no greater award could I ask to receive. God bless CMA and God bless our country’s music—Forever and Ever, Amen!”
“Being involved in Country Music is like being part of an extended family,” said Foster. “We all share common goals and we do our best to honor the heritage and tradition of the music. Having been able to make a living doing what I love for 58 years has truly been a blessing. Without the support of so many talented singers, songwriters, musicians and engineers, this award would never have been possible. I share this honor with all of them. Thank you CMA; this will go to the top of my most cherished memories.”
Formal induction ceremonies for Daniels, Foster, and Travis will take place at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum in the CMA Theater later this year. Since 2007, the Museum’s Medallion Ceremony, an annual reunion of the Hall of Fame membership, has served as the official rite of induction for new members.
CMA created the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1961 to recognize noteworthy individuals for their outstanding contributions to the format with Country Music’s highest honor.
“I marvel at the contributions of these three pathfinders who make up the class of 2016 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “Fred Foster, Charlie Daniels, and Randy Travis came along in different eras and specialized in different things, but they each arrived with inventive, highly individualistic creative approaches. They ran against the grain of history, and in so doing they created their own indelible, historical marks.”
Hosted for the second year by Hall of Fame member Brenda Lee, the announcement was made today in the Rotunda of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville and could be seen via live stream on CMAworld.com with the archived footage being available through the end of the month.
Veterans Era Artist – Charlie Daniels
Few musicians have had as varied and enduring an impact on Country Music as Charlie Daniels, the hard-charging, North Carolina-born fiddler who brought down-home sounds to the suburbs in a variety of ways and helped spread the genre to its widest audiences yet.
With the crossover hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” Daniels left an indelible mark on pop music with a song that was as much folk tale as blazing rocker. The song displayed everything that was exciting about Daniels and his band, perfectly capturing the blend of genres and styles he likes to call “CDB Music” with its pace and virtuosity, mythos, and fiery sense of righteousness.
Daniels was born Oct. 28, 1936, in Wilmington, and his musical roots are informed by Pentecostal gospel, local bluegrass bands, and the seemingly conflicting sounds of Nashville’s WSM and WLAC, Nashville’s Country and onetime R&B station, respectively, whose signals carried across the Appalachians.
Those four sounds combined to create rock ‘n’ roll around the time Daniels graduated high school in 1955. Already proficient at fiddle, mandolin, and guitar, Daniels formed his first band, the Jaguars, and began to play live.
The group stopped in Fort Worth, Texas, on its way to California to record a song with producer Bob Johnston. Nothing much came of the instrumental “Jaguar,” which had been picked up by Epic Records for national distribution. But Johnston’s friendship would shape Daniels’ career in other ways for decades to come.
In 1964 Daniels and Joy Byers co-wrote “It Hurts Me,” a B-side recorded by Elvis Presley. Over the next few years Johnston tried to convince the multi-instrumentalist to move to Nashville and in 1967 Daniels took his distinctive bull-rider hat, wild beard, and outsized persona to Music City where he quickly made an impact in the studio.
Daniels recorded with musicians as diverse as Al Kooper, the Marshall Tucker Band, and Marty Robbins, among his many credits, and made significant contributions to the historic sessions that yielded Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline. He also appeared on Dylan’s enigmatic albums New Morning and Self Portrait. During this time Daniels also produced the Youngbloods’ 1969 album Elephant Man and toured Europe as part of Leonard Cohen’s backing band.
Importantly, he also began work on his first album, Charlie Daniels, released by Capitol Records in 1970. His next three albums on Kama Sutra Records yielded only the modest hit “Uneasy Rider.”
Daniels’ shaggy sound began to connect with the public with the release of 1974’s Fire on the Mountain. The singles “The South’s Gonna Do It” and “Long Haired Country Boy” charted in 1975 at a time of renewed interest in Southern culture and the album went Platinum. The LP started a strong run for Daniels and his band with five of their next eight albums going Platinum or Gold.
The peak of this run came in 1979 when Daniels released Million Mile Reflections, a title that referred to CDB’s countless days on the road. The album included “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” a song that became a cultural phenomenon. “Devil” went to the top of the charts at Country, peaked at No. 3 on the pop list, and appeared on the soundtrack for “Urban Cowboy,” the Country-popularizing movie in which Daniels made a cameo appearance.
The song helped the group earn a number of honors, including the CMA Award for Single of the Year and a Grammy Award. The song remains both a radio staple and a favorite cover nearly 40 years later.
Daniels continued to have success as both a recording and touring act for decades to come. Over the years, he continued to explore musically, recording songs inspired by his faith and political beliefs. He contributed “Kneel at the Cross” to the Grammy-winning compilation Amazing Grace: A Country Salute to Gospel, and “Just a Little Talk With Jesus” to its 1997 sequel. In 2002 he released How Sweet the Sound: 25 Favorite Hymns and Gospel Greats.
Still busy creating music and performing, in 2014 Daniels released a tribute to the music of Dylan, Off the Grid: Doin’ It Dylan. He followed that up in 2015 with Live At Billy Bob’s Texas, a 14-track project that brought the talents of the Charlie Daniels Band together with the likes of legendary Country artists including Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Gary Stewart, David Allen Coe, Pat Green, Randy Rogers Band, Stoney LaRue, Charlie Robison, and many others as a member of the Live at Billy Bob’s Texas family.
Daniels, now 79, has overcome two major health scares – prostate cancer in 2001 and a mild stroke in 2010 – and continues to perform more than 100 dates a year. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008 and the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2009.
Modern Era Artist – Randy Travis
Very few figures in Country Music stand out as signposts along the way, the trendsetters who fearlessly predict and influence the future of the genre. Randy Travis is one of these performers, and his impact still reverberates in the modern-vs.-traditional ebb and flow of popular trends.
Blessed with a voice straight from the church altar, Travis immediately reminded fans of Country Music’s roots when his songs came to popular attention for the first time in the mid-1980s after years of rejection. Travis’ voice helped launch the neo-traditionalist movement with heartfelt Country and gospel songs that sounded so earnest and honest because, it turned out, the North Carolina-born singer had lived those hard times and sometimes found the redemption he sang about.
Born Randy Traywick on May 4, 1959, in Marshville, N.C., Travis grew up on a rural farm and began performing as a child with his brother Ricky as the Traywick Brothers. Travis often clashed with his father and dropped out of school, getting into scrapes with the law that continued until he won a Country Music singing contest at a club run by Elizabeth “Lib” Hatcher in Charlotte. She took an interest in the teen and gave him a job at the club.
This was the start of a professional and personal relationship that would shape Travis’ life for the next 25 years. The two moved to Nashville in 1982 to pursue a recording deal for Travis and married in 1991. Hatcher took over as manager of the Nashville Palace and hired Travis to sing and cook there. After initial failures in North Carolina and Nashville – Travis says he was turned down by every label in town at least once for being too Country – Warner Bros. Records A&R executive Martha Sharp took notice of the singer after hearing him perform at the Nashville Palace and set out to champion him as Randy Travis.
Travis’ first single, “On the Other Hand,” barely registered on the charts in 1985, but the next, “1982,” rose to the Top 10. Warner Bros. re-released “On the Other Hand” and it quickly became Travis’ first No. 1 single, beginning a run of 10 more chart-toppers out of his next 12 hit singles. The subsequent album Storms of Life was the first of six straight Platinum certifications for sales in excess of one million units and announced Travis as an exciting new voice. He would win the Horizon Award for best new artist at the 1986 CMA Awards.
“Forever and Ever, Amen,” the first single from his 1987 album Always & Forever, also went to No. 1 and helped Travis score the first of seven career Grammy Awards. Always & Forever also took Album of the Year at the 1987 CMA Awards, where Travis also won Male Vocalist and Single of the Year.
With his next four albums – Old 8×10, No Holdin’ Back, Heroes & Friends, and High Lonesome – Travis would go on to have 16 No. 1 songs, charting more than 50, and selling more than 25 million albums. The singer pursued an acting career in the 1990s and scored more than 40 motion picture and television roles, including “The Rainmaker” with Matt Damon and a run of several “Touched By an Angel” episodes.
Travis turned primarily to gospel music around the turn of the century, giving his career an unexpected boost with the release of the iconic single “Three Wooden Crosses” in 2002. The song went to No. 1 on the Country and Christian charts and was the 2003 CMA Awards Song of the Year. Travis earned eight Platinum certifications and four Gold records in his career and is one of Country’s top-selling artists.
The 56-year-old singer’s public performance career was put on hold in 2013 when Travis suffered a stroke as a result of a viral infection in his heart. With doctors telling the family that hope was virtually lost and after spending six months in the hospital, he has fought back harder than ever and is now able to walk. His speech and singing continue to improve with hopes of being back in front of his loyal fans one day soon.
He is currently living on his ranch in Texas with his wife Mary Davis-Travis, where he continues physical rehabilitation and has been making special appearances including attending the Opry Trust Fund dinner honoring Warner Bros. Records executive Jim Ed Norman; attending the recent TJ Martell Honors Gala; and last year at Cowboys Stadium, where he received a standing ovation from the 70,000 people in attendance.
Non-Performer – Fred Foster
When producer and label owner Fred Foster moved Monument Records from Washington, D.C. to Nashville in 1960, he came to town to create something different than what the established Music City recording industry was then producing. Within a decade, Foster’s fearless musical tastes helped launch the iconic careers of fellow Country Music Hall of Fame members Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, and Willie Nelson while also writing an important chapter in rock ‘n’ roll music history.
Foster cemented his pIace in the annals of music history with the signing of Roy Orbison. Their recordings remain towering achievements and added an emotional complexity to the nascent genre and inspired a legion of future rock ‘n’ roll stars, including The Beatles and a young Bruce Springsteen.
Orbison’s success with Monument gave Foster the confidence and capital he needed to forge his own path in Nashville, a habit developed in his teen years.
Born July 26, 1931, in rural North Carolina, Foster took over the family farm at age 15 when his father died. Two years later he left for D.C., where his sister Polly lived. Resolving to be anything but a farmer, Foster began to write songs with local talent while working as a hotel carhop.
His first job in the music business was as a record store clerk and his early work involved promotion and distribution. He began recording local acts on the side, even helping future fellow Hall of Fame member Jimmy Dean cut early tracks. He joined Mercury Records in 1953 and eventually became Head of National Country Promotion. But after making his first trip to Nashville to determine why Country sales were flat, he clashed with executives over the direction of the label’s sound, which he felt was antiquated in the age of rockabilly.
During his short tenure at ABC/Paramount (1956), he acquired the master to the label’s first million-seller, “A Rose and a Baby Ruth” by George Hamilton, IV. He also signed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Lloyd Price to the label. Price’s hits included: “Stagger Lee,” “Personality,” and “I’m Gonna Get Married.”
Soon after his stint at ABC/Paramount, Foster started Monument Records – a nod to the nearby Washington Monument – and publishing house Combine Music in 1958. He used the earnings from the company’s first hit song, Billy Grammer’s “Gotta Travel On,” to move to Nashville two years later.
He soon signed Orbison and began a run of recordings from 1960 to ‘64 that included “Only The Lonely,” “In Dreams,” “Running Scared,” “Blue Bayou,” “Blue Angel,” “Dream Baby,” “Crying,” “Candy Man,” “Mean Woman Blues,” “It’s Over,” and “Oh, Pretty Woman.”
Around this time Foster signed a young Parton, helping her shape not only her sound but the infectious and bawdy persona that won over the nation. Of Parton, Foster said: “Sometimes you just know…sometimes. And that makes up for all the times you had to guess.” Foster recorded her first album, Hello, I’m Dolly, which yielded the hits “Dumb Blonde” and “Something Fishy.” The songs immediately identified Parton as a star and showed she was anything but a dumb blonde.
Foster worked with a number of noted artists during this time, including Grandpa Jones, Nelson, Ray Price, Boots Randolph, Ray Stevens (Foster produced the No. 1 “Guitarzan”), Billy Walker, Tony Joe White, and Jeannie Seely, recording her 1967 Grammy Award-winning song “Don’t Touch Me.”
The producer also met Kristofferson during this period and recognized he was more than a poetic songwriter, urging him to record and perform his own songs. Their first album together, 1970’s Kristofferson, displayed the singer-songwriter’s transcendent talent and contained many of his hallmark songs, including “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “For the Good Times,” and “Me and Bobby McGee.” Foster shares a co-writer’s credit on the latter for suggesting the song title “Me and Bobby McKee,” named for a nearby female office worker. Kristofferson misheard him and eventually delivered “Me and Bobby McGee.”
Foster, now 84, sold Monument and Combine in 1990, but has continued to produce music, winning a Grammy for his work with Nelson and Price on Last of a Breed in 2008. He was inducted into the Musician’s Hall of Fame in 2009 and, along with his friends Kristofferson and Nelson, received the prestigious Dale Franklin Award from Leadership Music in 2010. Two years later, his home state inducted Foster into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Foster received a Trustees Award for his contributions to music from the Recording Academy earlier this year.
Watch here for the CMA Live Stream of The Country Music hall Of Fame Inductees Announcement
Tuesday March 29th at 10 a.m. central time, the CMA Live Stream of The Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees announcement will air right here on Nashville Rocks®! Grab your friends and find out who the inductees are to this legendary hall of fame. Host, Brenda Lee, will announce in several categories:
- Veterans Era Artist
- Modern Era Artist
The Class of 2016 marks the 56th group of Country Music legends to be inducted into the prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame, which was created in 1961 by the Country Music Association.
For more information visit CMA World.