Johnny Cash Inducted Into Gospel Music Hall of Fame
The top artists in country and gospel music gathered Monday night at Trinity Music City Auditorium in Hendersonville, Tenn., to help enshrine the late Johnny Cash, radio legend Bill "Hoss" Allen, the Golden Gate Quartet and Christian rockers DeGarmo & Key into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
"The Oak Ridge Boys relationship with Johnny Cash has been well documented over the years," Joe Bonsall told the crowd as he and fellow Oak Ridge Boys William Lee Golden, Richard Sterban and Duane Allen took the stage to honor the Man in Black. "I daresay I don't know that we would be here today if not for Johnny Cash."
Joe spoke lovingly of Johnny's friendship and support of the Oaks during the early days of the group's career, and also shared with the audience stories of the legendary artist's unfailing faith and deep commitment to sharing the Gospel. A video presentation highlighted key moments in Johnny's career before the Oaks introduced a performance by Trace Adkins. Standing center stage sans cowboy hat, Trace delivered a compelling rendition of 'Wayfaring Stranger,' earning a standing ovation from the crowd.
After Trace's performance, Duane welcomed Johnny and June's son, John Carter Cash, to the stage to accept the honor. "My father grew up in rural Dyess, Arkansas, in Mississippi County and he knew two things as a young man. He knew hard work and he knew gospel music," John Carter told the crowd. "These are the things that defined his character early on. When he decided to get into the music business, he wanted to be a gospel singer."
Though his father became one of country music's most beloved icons, John Carter says his love for gospel music never waned. "All through his life, he always went back to gospel music. He always carried that with him. No matter what show he was doing or where he was or who he was in front of -- be it the president or a bunch of prisoners -- he would sing a gospel song. He was never afraid to speak his faith and speak of salvation. Dad was greatly honored to become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and he was greatly honored to become a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, but I'd probably say number one for him would be the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, so GMA, thank you very much!"
Chonda Pierce and Larry Gatlin hosted the event, which also saluted DeGarmo & Key, the Golden State Quartet and Hoss Allen. "The impact this group of individuals has made on gospel music is immeasurable," says Ed Harper, Chairman, GMA Foundation. "It's an honor to recognize these inductees for their contributions."
The Golden Gate Quartet consisted of baritone Willie Johnson first tenor Henry Owens, second tenor William Langford and bass singer Orlandus Wilson. The group was known for infusing their powerful harmonies with jazz flourishes.
Hoss Allen's daughter BeBe Evans took the stage with her brother and niece to receive Allen's honor. Evans spoke of her father's glory days as a deejay on WLAC and how he loved the relationship he had with his loyal listeners. Allen's support of Jimi Hendrix and James Brown is credited with jumpstarting those artists' careers. He also exposed gospel music's top talents on his 'Early Morning Gospel Time With the Hossman' radio show.
DeGarmo & Key were pioneering Christian rockers who broke down barriers between sacred and secular music, becoming the first Christian group to get airplay on MTV. D&K influenced today's generation of Christian rock bands with their unbridled passion for spreading the gospel. The portion of the evening dedicated to recognizing DeGarmo & Key was bittersweet as Dana Key passed away last June at the age of 56 from a ruptured blood clot. His widow, Anita, took the stage on his behalf and Eddie DeGarmo shared memories of Dana, who had been his best friend since first grade. The two recorded 17 albums together, earning seven Grammy nominations and 17 Dove Award nominations.
Christian rocker Jeremy Camp saluted DeGarmo & Key with a moving performance of their hit 'I'm Accepted.' The evening also included stellar performances by the Fairfield Four, Russ Taff and Lee Williams and the Spiritual QC's.