Wednesday, August 12, 2009
– At a donation ceremony wreathed with her songs, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum today paid tribute to 1997 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, the late songwriter Cindy Walker.
Museum Director Kyle Young announced that when Walker died on March 23, 2006, she bequeathed the writer's share of her 500-song catalog to the hall. "The largest percentage of our holdings has been donated," Young said. "We are accustomed to gifts documenting or recalling the work of country music luminaries, but this is the first time we have ever received the actual work."
Walker's bequest included files and notebooks related to the songs, sheet music, photographs and business documents. Young explained that Walker, who was once married briefly and had no children, thought of her songs as her "babies." In one of her files, Museum curators found Walker's farewell note to her songs.
"Goodbye my darling," she wrote. "You have been so good to me. You have made me rich and famous. I love you, you are the reason I am, and you are in the Hall of Fame. I will miss you. Goodbye, your girl, Cindy Walker."
"Few things have served as a more emotional reminder of our responsibilities here than Cindy Walker's note to her 'babies,'" Young said.
Museum trustee David Conrad described the Museum's plans for the Walker songs. Crediting the idea to Sony/ATV Music Publishing President-CEO Troy Tomlinson, also a member of the Museum's Board of Officers and Trustees, Conrad announced plans for a 12-song Walker demo to be directed to film and television music supervisors. With Conrad as executive producer, volunteer producers Tony Brown, Fred Foster and Vince Gill will each produce four songs for the project.
"Each producer will choose artists from different music genres, who will be invited to create new arrangements of both Cindy's immortal songs and some that are not so well known," Conrad said.
Accompanied by images of Walker at various stages of her career, Young recounted her life from her youth in Waco, Texas, to her arrival and early professional career in Hollywood, and from her return to Texas and concomitant and fruitful embrace of the Nashville music scene to her death in 2003. He screened two of her songs - Soundies, Election Day and Seven Beers with the Wrong Man. These were three-minute song-and-dancedramas that were screened between western movie double-features and played on video jukeboxes in the early 1940s. Walker helped pioneer these precursors of today's music videos.
The celebration concluded with a musical salute to Walker presented by Nashville's premier western swing unit, the Time Jumpers. The big swing band presented four songs from their standard repertoire including with Kenny Sears on vocals, You Don't Know Me" with vocals by Carolyn Martin, Miss Mollywith vocals by Ranger Doug, and I Don't Care featuring the voice of Dawn Sears. Museum President Vince Gill joined the Time Jumpers to sing "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream).