NASHVILLE – The Country Music Association announced today
that Hank Cochran, Ronnie Milsap, and Mac
Wiseman will become the newest members of the revered Country Music Hall of Fame.
Milsap will be inducted
in the “Modern Era Artist” category, while Wiseman will be inducted in the
“Veterans Era Artist” category. Cochran will be inducted in the “Songwriter”
category, which is awarded every third year in a rotation with the “Recording
and/or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980” and “Non-Performer” categories.
Cochran, Milsap, and Wiseman will increase membership in the coveted Country Music
Hall of Fame from 121 to 124 members.
“Induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame is
the highest honor achievable for a Country Music artist, songwriter, or industry
leader and this year’s inductees are all highly deserving,” said Sarah
Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “Hank’s songs have been recorded
by everyone from Burl Ives to Etta James, George Strait to Ella Fitzgerald. Mac
is a revered figure in the world of bluegrass and a founding Board member of the
Country Music Association. And Ronnie is an incredibly gifted pianist and performer
who is also one of the most successful and versatile crossover artists in our genre.”
“When you start listening
to the radio as a kid, you want to hear your songs on there, because songs are
bits of people’s lives, including your own,” said Milsap. “Then you dream
that your songs and your music will mean enough to the people that, one day, they’ll
put you in the Hall of Fame. Not for you, exactly, but for all the songwriters
and musicians and especially the fans who tell you their life is in your songs.
To me, that’s what the Hall of Fame is all about: how many people’s lives
were held in your music. So many people I admire and have heard my story in their
songs are already in the Hall, and I love the idea that maybe my music meant –
to others - what those artists have meant to me.”
“Being a founding member of CMA, I have always been
proud of my role in helping make Country Music popular,” said Wiseman. “Being
inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame is the icing on the cake and certainly
a highlight of my career.”
Induction ceremonies for Cochran (who passed away in 2010),
Milsap, and Wiseman 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.
“All these distinguished Southerners overcame serious hardship
before finding the opportunity to hone their talents to professional levels and
make the inspired Country Music that has led to this moment,” said Kyle
Young, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Country Music Hall
of Fame and Museum. “Their indelible mark has earned them Country Music’s
highest honor, membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame.”
Cochran – Garland Perry “Hank” Cochran was born Aug. 2, 1935 in
Isola, Miss. After his parents’ divorce when Cochran was nine, he moved to Memphis
to live with his father. But post-Depression life proved to be difficult and Cochran’s
father ended up placing him in St. Peter’s Orphan home. After Cochran’s third
attempt at running away from the orphanage, his father took him back to Mississippi
to be raised by his grandparents.
At the age of 10, Cochran was playing guitar and singing at
church. At 12, he and his uncle Otis hitchhiked from Mississippi to Hobbs, N.M.
to work in the oilfields. But work as a roughneck was not only physically demanding,
but dangerous. So after spending two years in the oilfields, Cochran headed to
Los Angeles. Once there he got a job at a Sears & Roebuck. The company insisted
he return to school since he was not yet 16.
While in Los Angeles, Cochran entered various amateur
talent contests in the area with much success, giving him the idea to form a group
to play at clubs and local events. His search for a guitar player led him to Eddie
Cochran (no relation) who shared his passion for music. The teens formed a rock
‘n’ roll duo called The Cochran Brothers, which had minor success.
After the duo disbanded,
Cochran made the move to Nashville in January of 1960 and began working as a songwriter
for Pamper Music. That year he penned “Make the World Go Away,” which was
recorded by both Ray Price and Eddie Arnold.
In addition to writing songs for Pamper Music, he also
helped the company sign other songwriters, as well as acquire songs and get them
recorded. Among those he signed to the publishing company’s roster was Willie
Nelson, whom Cochran discovered singing at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.
In April of 1961 Patsy
Cline released Cochran’s “I Fall to Pieces” (co-written with Harlan Howard),
which afforded Cochran the opportunity to give up his extra jobs and become a
full time songwriter. Soon after, Cochran was playing guitar with Justin
Tubb on the Grand Ole Opry, touring with Price, and scoring his first hit
as a recording artist with the Top 20 single “Sally Was a Good Old Girl.”
He also earned three BMI Awards for songs he had written on his own, and became
a co-owner (along with Price) of Pamper Music.
In 1974 Cochran was unanimously voted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In 1996, Cochran topped
the Americana chart as a recording artist with Desperate Men: The Legend and
the Outlaw. In 2002 he released another album, Livin’ For a Song: A
Cochran’s songs have been recorded by a wide variety of artists
including Chet Atkins, Junior Brown, Jimmy Buffett, Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello,
Bing Crosby, Vern Gosdin, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Tom
Jones, Loretta Lynn, Dean Martin, Wayne Newton, Elvis Presley, Reba, Linda Ronstadt,
George Strait, and Lee Ann Womack. He has penned some of music’s classic tunes
including “She’s Got You,” “Set ‘Em Up Joe,” “The Chair,” “Is
It Raining At Your House,” “Miami, My Amy,” “Ocean Front Property,”
and “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me.”
His catalog has generated more than 36 million performances,
which, if played back-to-back, would amount to more than 200 years of continuous airplay.
Cochran passed away on
July 15, 2010 surrounded by friends, family, and music - Jamey Johnson, Billy
Ray Cyrus, and producer/songwriter Buddy Cannon were passing a guitar around in
Cochran’s bedroom, singing songs and telling tales.
Veterans Era Artist
Wiseman – Malcolm B. “Mac” Wiseman was born May 23, 1925, in Crimora,
Va. At six-months old, Wiseman contracted polio, which he felt was a blessing.
Because of his illness, he was kept inside and was not subjected to the field
work that most children of the rural Shenandoah Valley were expected to do. His
father would set the phonograph up by the wood stove and Wiseman would listen
to old records over and over. His mother would write the lyrics from songs she
heard on the radio into composition books for young Mac.
In 1943, Wiseman applied for a job at the Merck and
Co. chemical plant, but because of the polio damage to his leg, he was turned
down. That was when he made the decision to pursue his music.
Wiseman attended the Shenandoah
Conservatory of Music in Virginia with help from the National Foundation for Infantile
Paralysis, which would later become the March of Dimes. There Wiseman excelled
in a radio course and accepted a job offer from WSVA in Harrisonburg, Va.,
where he read the news and farm reports and spun pop and Country records.
In 1946, Wiseman joined
Molly O’Day’s band, where he developed a love of classic Country.
In 1948, Wiseman made his
first foray into what would become known as bluegrass music. He joined Lester
Flatt and Earl Scruggs as a member of the Foggy Mountain Boys, singing high harmonies
and booking the band’s first concert dates. And in 1949, he joined Bill Monroe’s
Bluegrass Boys where he played the Grand Ole Opry for the first time. He also
recorded the classics “Traveling This Lonesome Road” and “Can’t You Hear
Me Callin’” with Monroe. He left the band in 1949 to set out on his own.
Wiseman soon attracted
the attention of the independent label Dot Records and was offered a recording
contract. In 1951, Dot released Wiseman’s first single, “Tis Sweet To Be Remembered,”
which became a career-making song and earned him the nickname the “voice with
a heart.” Wiseman went on to record other classics including “Love Letters
in the Sand,” “Jimmy Brown, the Newsboy,” “Ballad of Davy Crockett,”
and “Shackles and Chains.”
Wiseman became a record executive in 1957 when he was tapped
to head the Country Division of Dot Records. And in 1958, Wiseman was instrumental
in the founding of the Country Music Association, becoming the organization’s
first Secretary/Treasurer, demonstrating the respect he had earned as both an
artist and a record executive.
During the 1960s Wiseman was a staple on the folk festival circuit
and on college campuses. But he also played Carnegie Hall in 1962 on a bill headlined
by Johnny Cash, which garnered him rave reviews in The New York Times.
From 1966 to 1971, Wiseman
was Program Producer and Talent Director for the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree. During
his tenure he stabilized the cast of performers and gave bluegrass prominence.
Most recently, Wiseman
has released his music on his own Wise Records including a six-disc boxed set
entitled The Mac Wiseman Story, featuring songs he recorded in the 1970s
and a DVD collection called Mac Wiseman – An American Treasure. In
2007, he recorded a duet album with John Prine, Standard Songs for Average
People, which was released by Oh Boy Records. He has also just completed
an album with Merle Haggard, Vince Gill, and The Isaacs that will be released
in 2014 and is also being interviewed for inclusion in the upcoming Ken Burns
PBS documentary on Country Music. Wiseman will also be the first inductee into
the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music Hall of Fame later this month.
Modern Era Artist
Ronnie Milsap –
Ronnie Lee Milsap was born Jan. 16, 1943, in Robbinsville, N.C. A congenital disorder
left him almost blind, and he was raised by his grandmother in the Smoky Mountains
until the age of five, when he was sent to the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, N.C.
Showing an interest in
music early on, at the age of seven his teachers recognized that he had considerable
musical talent. He began studying classical music and learned several instruments,
eventually mastering the piano.
His youthful passion for rock music led him to form a band with
some high school classmates called The Apparitions. Briefly attending Young Harris
College on a full scholarship, Milsap left before graduating to pursue a career in music.
In the early 1960s, Milsap
played his first professional gigs as a member of J.J. Cale’s band. In 1965,
he released “Total Disaster,” his first single as a solo artist, which achieved
some local success in the Atlanta area.
In 1965, Milsap signed with New York-based Scepter
Records where he scored an R&B Top 5 with the Ashford and Simpson-penned “Never
Had It So Good.” While at Scepter, Milsap shared concert stages with James Brown,
Stevie Wonder, and Ray Charles, who encouraged the young man to apply himself to music.
In 1969, Milsap moved to
Memphis to become a session musician. Working with the legendary Chips Moman,
he played keyboards on Elvis Presley’s “Kentucky Rain” and can be heard
singing background on “Don’t Cry Daddy.” When not doing session work, Milsap
and his ensemble served as the house band at the local music hotspot T.J.’s Club.
In 1970, Milsap found success
on the pop charts with “Loving You Is a Natural Thing.” He recorded and released
his eponymous debut album – produced by Dan Penn - in 1971.
In 1972, Milsap was performing
at the Whiskey A-Go-Go where Charley Pride happened to be in the audience. Impressed
with his soulful singing style, Pride encouraged Milsap to focus on Country Music.
Moving to Nashville later that year, he began working with Pride’s manager,
Jack D. Johnson. A year later, he signed with RCA Records and later that same
year released his first Country single, the Top 10 “I Hate You.”
In 1974, Milsap scored
two No. 1s: “Pure Love” and “Please Don’t Tell Me How the Story Ends,”
which won his first Grammy. Another No. 1 followed the next year with “Daydreams About Night Things.”
In 1976, Milsap solidly
established himself as one of Country Music’s biggest stars. A string of seven
No. 1 hits in a row, including “(I’m a) Stand By My Woman Man,” “What
a Difference You’ve Made in My Life,” and “It Was Almost Like a Song,”
which was the most successful single of the 1970s. “Song” was the
singer’s first crossover hit, peaking No. 7 on the adult contemporary chart
and paving the way for Milsap to be named Billboard’s Artist of the
Year (in any genre) in 1976.
This string of hits also kicked off a remarkable run in American
pop music. With songs “(There’s) No Getting Over Me,” “I Wouldn’t Have
Missed It For the World,” “Any Day Now,” “Stranger In My House,” “Lost
in the Fifties Tonight,” “She Keeps the Home Fires Burning,” “Snap
Your Fingers,” and “Where Do the Nights Go,” Milsap did not leave the Top 10 for 16 years.
Milsap also received myriad
awards and accolades during this period. He won four CMA Album of the Year Awards
(1975, 1977, 1978, and 1986), three CMA Male Vocalist of the Year trophies (1974,
1976, and 1977), and the coveted CMA Entertainer of the Year Award (1977). In
addition, he won five Grammys for Best Male Country Vocal performance (1974, 1976,
1981, 1985, and 1986) and one Grammy for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals
in 1988 for the Kenny Rogers duet “Make No Mistake, She’s Mine.”
In 1993, Milsap left RCA
and signed with Liberty Records and released the album True Believer. In
2000, he released the two-CD set, 40 No. 1 Hits.
In 2004, Milsap recorded Just
For a Thrill, a collection of American popular/jazz standards, which was
nominated for a Grammy. Returning to Country in 2006 at his original home of RCA
Records, he released My Life. It was followed in 2009 with Then
Sings My Soul, a two-CD set collection of hymns and gospel songs.
On March 18 of this year,
Milsap released Summer #17, his 31st album, which he describes
as an homage to the music that inspired him. Hailed by USA Today, The Tennessean
and NPR: National Public Radio, the set pays tribute to the influences that shaped
Milsap’s singular brand of soul-steeped Country.
With 40 No. 1 hits and more than 35 million albums
sold, Milsap remains one of Country’ Music’s most successful and beloved crossover
artists. At 71, he continues to tour the country, playing his music for multiple
generations of music lovers.
About CMA: Founded in 1958, the Country Music
Association was the first trade organization formed to promote a type of music.
In 1961, CMA created the Country Music Hall of Fame to recognize artists and industry
professionals with Country Music’s highest honor. More than 7,000 music industry
professionals and companies from around the globe are members of CMA. The organization’s
objectives are to serve as an educational and professional resource for the
industry and advance the growth of Country Music around the world. This
is accomplished through CMA’s core initiatives: the CMA Awards, which annually
recognize outstanding achievement in the industry; the CMA Music Festival, which
benefits music education and is taped for a three-hour special; and “CMA Country
Christmas,” featuring Country artists performing original music and Christmas
classics for broadcast during the holiday season. All of CMA’s television
properties will air on the ABC Television network through 2021.