Jean was indeed the prettiest one there. Stunning is a good word!
People started assembling in the lobby of the Hotel about 6 or so for a cocktail hour, they had cash bars in various places, a nice little display about the new museum in Renfro Valley, posters, photos etc. Then the string quartet began to play 'Hard Times Come Again No More' and I knew it was going to be a beautiful evening, a few of us in the room even singing along a little, under our breath. The doors were opened to the crowd at about 7:30, people found thier tables and thier seats, I was at a table of Jean supporters and family members, there was great applause as the inductees were led into the room and took thier seats up next to the stage. On stage was a jazz orchestra (can't remember the name, and I don't have my program with me, will fill in details later), very good, who did a few bars of music related to each honoree as they ascended the stage to receive thier awards, and also provided incidental & dinner music throughout the evening. The festivities were arranged by Terry Anderson and her staff who did a great job all around. The Governor & his wife, who was co-chair of the event with Loretta Lynn, made an introductory speech, then the awards began, with two large screen closed circuit tvs on stage so people toward the back of the room could see, I'd say easily 1000 in attendance, maybe more. If memory serves, and I will correct this and add to it once I find my notes:
1st up was radio/barn dance emcee John Lair then, and I'm note exactly sure of this order, Rosemary Clooney, who was not in attendance Bradley Kincaid, whose daughters I believe accepted Tom T. Hall, who made a very humerous speech, thanked his genes, saying his parents happened to be in Kentucky when he was born Red Foley, whose grandson George performed some of Red's hits The Osborne Brothers, Sonny and Bobby, who also spoke (one of them, I think Sonny is the talker) Grandpa Jones then a special Governor's award to Lionel Hampton
Then WE ATE! good too, special vegetarian plate for yours truly then more awards:
Bill Monroe, performance by a trio, including a player picking on the last mandolin played by Bill (not his famous one), the presenter talked glowingly of Bill & his generosity, saying if you had all the quarters Bill gave to children whenever he saw them, you'd have a pile of money, son James accepted
Everly Brothers, who don't speak to one another much, so thier mother accepted on thier behalf, I think Phil was the one born in Kentucky, but they do festival every year, and roots are there. Mrs. Everly was a delight, though frail, still sharp as a tack, good to hear memories from someone who was there from the beginning
Merle Travis, Eddie Pennington presented this award and also played some fine thumb-picked guitar medley of Travis tunes, he was a joy, visibly overcome with emotion speaking of his hero, Merle, and really doing him honor with his playing
JEAN RITCHIE! Hurray! She ascends, after the introduction by Dr. ROn Pen, to the tune of 'Black Water' played by saxophones in a jazz band arrangement, and gives a beautiful, simple, but complete and concise and heartfelt talk about her music and her life, & how people would ask her how she had done so much with her life. She answered as to how she tried to do the serious music thing for a while and got burnt out by it, and how she decided to just live her life, and let her music be a part of it and see how it would go, and now here we all were, and it didn't seem like that much time had gone by or she had done that much, until you looked at it all at once like that. I'm badly paraphrasing, wished I had a tape recorder with me, but it must have been filmed by the Mudic Hall people, and maybe it will be part of her display down there.
Then the Governor's wife presents Loretta to the tune of 'Coal Miner's Daughter' by the jazz group, who was a treat to see, and who thanked and praised Jean for her earlier remarks.
I think Jean touched the most people there with her speech, as she always does in her performances.
Then all assembled on stage for the Stephen Foster rounding out of the evening, everyone standing and singing 'My Old Kentucky Home', which was led beautifully by a young girl of about ten in a real strong assured voice. I'm glad I know all the words, and got a chance to sing a little with such a distinguished crowd! Now I can say I've sung in public with Loretta Lynn, Tom T. Hall, the Osborne Brothers, George Foley, Eddie Pennington, etc. AND Jean Ritchie!
What a night!