Golden Voice Awards Honor Legends, Raise Funds

The Second Annual Golden Voice Awards allowed fans the opportunity to brunch with their favorite country stars and benefit a good cause. The event took place Monday morning (June 12) at the Opryland Hotel, with proceeds going to The Performer’s Benefit Fund.

A sumptuous brunch was followed by the peer-voted awards show, hosted by Bill Anderson and Jan Howard. Performances by The Whites, Brad Paisley, Billy Walker, Mandy Barnett, Steve Wariner, the Larry Stephenson Band and Charley Pride, among others, highlighted the show. Artists receiving awards also obliged the audience with on-the-spot performances: Skeeter Davis sang her million-selling hit “The End of the World” after receiving the Female Golden Voice Award, and Gene Watson sang “Farewell Party” after being bestowed with the Male Golden Voice Award. Steve Wariner sang Dottie West’s signature song, “Country Sunshine,” before accepting the Female Golden Legacy Award on her behalf. He also surprised the audience with his hit “Holes in the Floor of Heaven.”

George Lindsey, better known as Goober on The Andy Griffith Show, awarded the Bluegrass Golden Voice Award, appropriately enough, to Mac Wiseman, who’s known as the “Voice With a Heart.” Lester Flatt received the Bluegrass Golden Legacy honor.

Anderson, tearful with emotion, presented the non-musician Golden Circle Award to Charlie Lamb for his contributions in furthering country music through his work as a journalist, publisher and promoter. Not only did Lamb take a personal interest in Anderson’s early career (and the careers of other legendary performers such as Kitty Wells, Ed Bruce and Connie Smith), he was an innovator of the layout of modern sales charts. As publisher of the trade magazine Music Reporter, Lamb used “bullets” to signify booming sales activity of singles and expanded the charts in his magazine to accommodate 50 and 100 listings. “His office was a pay phone in the alley behind the Opry,” Anderson said of Lamb’s initial venture in the country music industry. A frail but smiling Lamb accepted his award as Anderson looked on.

Fans snapped photographs with the legends and received their autographs during brunch and after the show. The event is the brainchild of Bettie Crook-Walker and seeks to “Honor the men and women who have given country music her voice.” The Performer’s Benefit Fund was created to provide adequate health care for qualifying members of the Grand Ole Opry and is administered through a board of directors elected by Opry members.