April 20, 2009 — A storm couldn't keep Josh Turner and Marty Stuart — or their fans — out of downtown Nashville Sunday as they led a class of six new inductees into the Music City Walk of Fame.
Instead of holding the ceremony outside at Hall of Fame Park, the GAC-sponsored event was moved across the street inside the Sommet Center, the home of the annual Country Music Association Awards. And with the stage set so that host Bill Cody and the inductees had a distinct view of the Ryman Auditorium, the Mother Church of Country Music, the new members kept on the sunny side as they marked the career achievement.
"What touches me is when I look over here and see my friends the Old Crow Medicine Show, or when I hear Josh Turner sing on the radio, I know that same country music that touched my heart has been passed on to another generation," Marty observed. "They're carryin' the banner for it, and they're strong=2 0 ambassadors. They're strong every time they leave this town. They take a piece of this town with 'em, and they take a piece of America with 'em, because country music is one of America's greatest cultures."
Still, multiple cultures were represented in the Walk of Fame ceremony. CeCe Winans — who's won seven Grammy Awards as a gospel singer — earned a plaque, as did the late R.H. Boyd, who came to prominence publishing Baptist hymnals in the late 19th century and early 1900s. Songwriter-engineer-producer-studio owner Jack Clement — whose career intersected with U2 and with Sun Records acts Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash — received his own spot on the walk. And so did Curb Records owner Mike Curb, who's written music for more than 50 films; produced the Osmonds and the Sammy Davis Jr. pop hit "Candy Man"; and owns the label that signed LeAnn Rimes, Rodney Atkins and Tim McGraw.
The Walk of Fame is a touchstone of success, but before becoming a public commodity, nearly every star encounters a difficult climb marked by naysayers, poor choices and/or entertainment sharks. That makes an event such as Sunday's induction that much sweeter.
"I've been hurt by a lot of people that have lied to me, and cheated me and taken advantage of me," Josh noted. "And at the same time, I've also been blessed to be surrounded by a lot of great people."
Josh choked back emotion in delivering his speech, but he found the strength to get the words out.
"I don't feel like I deserve this star yet," he said, "but I vow to you today — everybody here and everybody beyond these walls — that I will continue to work hard and to sing hard to continue to earn this star for you. And for years to come, as long as you wanna hear me, I'll sing for you."
Josh earned a blast of applause with that statement, and as it died down, he picked up once again: "Just in case you didn't hear me, I said, 'As long as you wanna hear me, I'll sing for you.'"
Initiated in November 2006, the Walk of Fame now features 37 stars, including Little Richard, Steve Wariner, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Ronnie Milsap and Randy Travis. The sun peaked out as the ceremony came to a close, allowing anyone who wanted to wander over to the Hall of Fame Park to see all the markers up close. And they'll still be there — through sun, rain, sleet and snow — for decades to come.
"I would like to invite all of you to come down here and walk on me," Cowboy Jack quipped. "But don't do it barefooted — it tickles."