As Nashville got ready to watch their Tennessee Titans take to the field against the Bengals on Sunday, many in downtown gathered for the 2011 unveiling festivities of the Music City Walk of Fame. Seven Nashville-related personalities were chosen for the honor -- including two with deep ties to the country music world, Alan Jackson and Kix Brooks.
Veteran programmer Lon Helton brought a chuckle out of the crowd when reading Jackson's accomplishments by pulling out a blue vinyl promotional copy of his first Arista single, 1989's "Blue Blooded Woman." Jackson held his arm up with pride when Helton mentioned the records' peak of No. 45 on the chart. His chart fortunes increased with the next single, "Here In The Real World," which set Jackson on his way to becoming a legend in the business.
Helton noted that Jackson had written 24 of his number one singles, with only Merle Haggard composing more of his chart-toppers than Jackson in the Country format.
The three-time CMA Entertainer of the Year was his usual low-key self when accepting the honor, saying "After all I've been through and accomplished, I think about the first time I drove down Music Row with a paper sack full of songs, I could have never imagined standing in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and them putting a star with my name on it on this concrete. I could thank a million people, but it's the fans that are the ones that put it there. I don't know if I feel quite right getting this star, when there are people like Merle Haggard, George Jones, Charley Pride. Y'all better get their names on here too."
For Kix Brooks, presenter Reba McEntire began her remarks by saying that "People come into your life for a reason, a season, or forever. My friendship with Kix Brooks is forever." She did make note of some of Brooks' more legendary practical jokes. Upon taking to the stage, Brooks shared some more details of his pranks on McEntire. For the most part, though, his remarks reflected why he has become one of Nashville's biggest ambassadors.
"I remember when I first came here in 1979. Aside from Tootsie's, it just broke my heart. It was honestly pretty disgusting," he said, referring to many of the adult businesses that were in great abundance in the downtown area. There was a lot of darkness up and down Broadway," he reflected, noting that things have changed considerably since then.
He spoke of the day's honor with a great amount of enthusiasm. "When I went to Los Angeles for the first time, and walked the Star Walk, I stopped at every name. I'm a fan. I truly admire special and talented people. I don't know if I necessarily deserve one, but I'm really proud of it," he said, while also thanking his Brooks & Dunn partner, Ronnie Dunn.
Jackson and Brooks were not the only names celebrated. Guitar legend Les Paul, Gospel greats Bobby Jones and Dottie Rambo, fashion designer Manuel, and beloved WSMV-TV news anchor Dan Miller were honored during the afternoon, as well.
The induction of this class will bring the total number of stars along the Walk of Fame to 58. The Music City Walk of Fame, located on Nashville's Music Mile, is a landmark tribute to those from all genres of music who have made significant contributions to preserving the musical heritage of Nashville and have contributed to the world through song or other industry collaboration.
Permanent sidewalk medallions with each honoree's name displayed in a star-and-guitar design will be installed in the sidewalk along the Music Mile. The plaques for this class of inductees will be inlaid in Walk of Fame Park on Demonbreun, between 4th and 5th Avenues South.
"Each of these inductees into the Walk of Fame has definitely left their creative mark on Music City in their own unique way," said Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Bureau. "It is the creative collaboration shown by these talented individuals that make Nashville, Music City."