Jimmy Fortune toured, sang and performed with the legendary Statler Brothers for 21 years and has performed in all of the U.S. States, in Canadian Provinces, and in front of audiences as large as 100,000. He was part of the Statlers’ annual Happy Birthday USA celebration in Staunton, Virginia, for 14 years. He also sang on many of the Statlers’ gold, platinum, and double platinum recordings. Jimmy’s career included The Nashville Network’s popular “The Statler Brothers Show” which aired for seven seasons and debuted in 1991 as the highest rated show for the network. After The Statler Brothers retired on October 26, 2002, Jimmy seized the opportunity to launch a solo career to share new music with his fans. Fortune wrote the No. 1 hit, “Elizabeth,” and followed that with two more No. 1 hits–“My Only Love” and “Too Much On My Heart.” Jimmy and The Statler Brothers were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame on October 29, 2007, and inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on June 29, 2008. Jimmy, as a solo artist, was inducted into the Virginia Musical Hall of Fame in 2018.
Connie Smith grew up in West Virginia and Ohio in a family of fourteen children. Her parents were migrant farm workers, and times were often hard. Smith escaped by listening obsessively to the radio, especially the Grand Ole Opry. Her voice shows both the straightforward spirit of her country idols and the moody inflections culled from favorite jazz artists. As a young music fan, Smith taught herself to play acoustic guitar at age eighteen and began singing at local events. In August of 1963, Smith won a talent contest in Columbus, Ohio, earning a performing spot that evening in a concert featuring members of the Grand Ole Opry. During the concert, headliner Bill Anderson noticed Smith’s talent and after the show he encouraged her to come to Nashville, which in July 1964, lead to “Once a Day,” her first single which spent eight weeks at #1. Smith’s high standing in the country music world was acknowledged when she became the first woman to be named artist-in-residence by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. But Smith’s greatness extends beyond vocal brilliance. It encompasses her song selection, her connection to great musicians (especially steel guitarists), her classy demeanor, and a spiritual bearing that serves as her foundation, making Connie Smith one of country music’s most admired artists. She received the genre’s highest honor in 2012, when she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.