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Bill Anderson’s Career Celebrated With Five-Disc Set

Tony R. Phipps, Getty Images

Legendary singer-songwriter Bill Anderson, affectionately called Whispering Bill because of his soft vocal style, will release his first-ever CD boxed set in 2011. According to Music Row, the five-disc compilation on Bear Family Records will cover his legendary recording career from 1958 through 1966, as well as demos of songs he wrote which ended up as hits for other artists.

One of the most successful songwriters in country music history and a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1961, Bill’s songs have been recorded by Ray Price, Connie Smith, Jim Reeves, Kenny Chesney and George Strait, to name but a few.

As a recording artist, Bill scored his own first hit in 1959 with ‘That’s What It’s Like to Be Lonesome’ and his first Top 10 single with 1960′s ‘The Tip of My Fingers.’ That classic tune went on to be covered by artists including Roy Clark, who had a No. 10 country hit with it in 1963, and Eddy Arnold, who took his 1966 recording of it to No. 3 on the country charts. Most recently, Steve Wariner‘s 1991 version, titled ‘The Tips of My Fingers,’ peaked at No. 3 on the charts.

Over the course of his storied career, Bill Anderson has been voted Songwriter of the Year six times and in 1975 was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. In 2001 he was the recipient of the ultimate honor when he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In 2004, ‘Whiskey Lullaby,’ which he co-wrote with Jon Randall became an award-winning hit for Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss. In 2006 and 2007, Bill was honored by both the ACM and the CMA with Song of the Year for ‘Give It Away,’ which he co-wrote with Jamey Johnson and Buddy Cannon.

When it comes to what constitutes great country tunes, Bill tells The Boot, “If I had to say one thing, I would say a song that touches people emotionally. People ask me how can you write hit songs in 1957 and still write them in 2007? I don’t think human emotions have changed all that much. We still laugh. We still cry. We still feel things … and to me a song that connects with people, that really touches somebody, that’s the key.”

Bill also promises that he has no plans to set down his prolific pen any time soon, saying, “As long as I still enjoy it and feel like maybe I’ve got a little something to contribute, I’ll keep doing it. When I had him on my radio show, I asked Willie Nelson, ‘When are you going to retire?’ He said, ‘I don’t do but two things: I play golf and make music. Which one do you want me to quit?’ So that’s kind of the way I feel. Retire from what? It’s hard to give it up if it’s in your blood.”

In 2011, along with the release of the five CD set, Bill Anderson will celebrate his 50th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

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