North American Country Music Associations, Int’l lights up Country Tonite Theatre

ZZ Jett WilliamsBy Jim Callicott

Spring has been defined as the time of rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection, an end to the winter season and the birth of new life. New life is quite evident the second week of March in Pigeon Forge as aspiring performers of country music from across the United States and foreign soil give hope to the rise of the next great artist and belief that America’s music is alive, reborn and being carried on by the next generation of country and gospel entertainers.

The North American Country Music Associations, Int’l (NACMAI) takes on the town March 9–15 with over one thousand country music hopefuls competing for top honors in a competition unequaled in scope and talent. The competition will run from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday to Friday, non-stop, uninterrupted and the entire event is free to the public at the Country Tonite Theater. Come and go as you please, stay as long as you like. The theater will be open all week.

Those participating in the competition have to earn their way to this event. Performers compete at each state (or country) awards show with the winners competing in regional events and the regional winners advancing to the international finals in Pigeon Forge.

There are several activities at the week long event. After the week of competition, on Saturday, March 14 at 9:00 a.m. there will be workshops on song writing, social media and stage presence. Saturday night will be the induction of the newest members of the NACMAI Hall of Fame. On Sunday, March 15 will be the awards show for the competition winners.

The new inductees to the NACMAI Hall of Fame include Jett Williams, the daughter of Hank Williams, Sr. Jett was born on January 6, 1953 in Montgomery, Alabama, just five days after the death of her famous father and two days after his burial in Montgomery. It took years for Jett to find the truth about who her father was and win her legal battles. In July, 1992 the Federal Court of New York awarded Jett her share of her father’s copyright renewal royalties. She has since made her own career in country music.

Michelle Wright will be the first Canadian inducted into the Hall of Fame. Michelle signed with Arista Records in 1990 and promptly let the world know this Canadian girl singer was for real with a top ten hit and number one CMT video of “Take It Like A Man.” She has won the Canadian Country Music Association’s Female Artist of the Year five times and has been inducted in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Ralph Murphy was born in London, raised in Canada and calls Nashville home. He has spent five generations as a songwriter and producer. In 1978 Murphy co-wrote “Half the Way” which was recorded by Crystal Gayle and became a number one hit. Murphy’s songs have been recorded by Randy Travis, Ray Price, Don Williams, Kathy Mattea, Little Texas, Shania Twain and Crystal Gayle to mention a few. Ralph has also been inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

Brenda Kaye Perry is from North Carolina and began her singing career by performing with the family band. Brenda’s first national hit was “Deeper Water.” During her career she has won national competitions, received ASCAP awards, appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and numerous television shows.

ZZ Ace CannonAce Cannon has been called the “Godfather of Sax” and was the first person to be inducted into the International Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame. Ace exploded on to the music scene in 1962 when he release the instrumental smash hit, “Tuff.” Since then he has recorded 67 albums and received a Grammy nomination for his version of “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain.” In 2009 Ace was presented the Mississippi Legislature Award for his long career and contribution to the music industry.

Tickets for the Hall of Fame Show and Awards Show will be on sale in the theater lobby.

Many thanks go to Peggy Franck, head of NACMAI, and her associates for their continuing efforts to promote the development of country and gospel music performers and the industry as a whole and for bringing this international event to Pigeon Forge.



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