The Arkansas Country Music Awards have announced Conway Twitty, Patsy Montana, The Wilburn Brothers, Kye Fleming, and Jimmy Driftwood as the 2019 recipients of their Lifetime Achievement Award.
“All five have left a huge mark in country music and have made Arkansas proud,” says longtime country music journalist Charles Haymes. “From a giant country star to a Western cowgirl to a popular sibling duo to a top notch hit songwriter to one of the greatest folk/country storytellers, this is an incredible mix of Arkansans.”
Born Harold Jenkins, Twitty grew up in Helena. He is often referred to as ‘the best friend a song ever had.’ His multitude of hits would reflect that statement. From his early rock hit “It’s Only Make Believe” to countless hit country singles, such as “Hello Darlin’,” “You’ve Never Been This Far Before,” “I’d Love to Lay You Down,” “Don’t Take It Away” and “That’s My Job” to several duet hits with Loretta Lynn, he stands as one of the true legends Few performers have had the influence on country music as Twitty. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999.
Montana was born Ruby Blevins in Beaudry, near Jessieville, just outside of Hot Springs Village. After taking the stage name to better fit her style and image, Montana went on to be an absolute queen in the early days of what was known as Country & Western Music. She was extremely popular on the program The National Barn Dance in Chicago. Her 1935 release of “I Want To Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” became the first single by a female country recording artist to sell a million copies. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996.
THE WILBURN BROTHERS
Teddy and Doyle Wilburn were born in Hardy. For the Wilburn Brothers, their initial stage experience came by performing at any early age with their entire family. As time passed, they became popular as members of the Grand Ole Opry and on television with their own syndicated show. The Wilburn Brothers Show featured weekly guests, giving country music performers valuable exposure in the days of only three networks. Their list of hits include “Trouble’s Back in Town,” “It’s Another World” and “Roll Muddy River.”
Fleming grew up in Fort Smith and later attended the University of Arkansas. In the 1970s, she moved to Nashville to pursue a career as a songwriter. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, she teamed with Dennis Morgan. As a pair, their compositions were mega hits. Among those are Barbara Mandrell’s “I Was Country (When Country Wasn’t Cool),” “Crackers,” “Years” and “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed.” Ronnie Milsap scored big with “Smokey Mountain Rain” and “I Wouldn’t Have Missed It for the World.” Also, Sylvia took “Nobody” to the heights of both country and pop radio. In 1989, Willie Nelson scored with Fleming’s “There You Are.” She is a three-time recipient of BMI’s Songwriter of the Year and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2009.
Born in Timbo, Driftwood is one of the all-time great composers and interpreters of folk and country songs. In 1959, Johnny Horton recorded Driftwood’s composition “The Battle of New Orleans.” The following year, it was named Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards. Driftwood wrote more than 6,000 songs, of which more than 300 have been recorded by various artists. He was a key figure in the popularity and preservation of old-time music in Mountain View.
All five of the Lifetime Achievement recipients will be honored during the Arkansas Country Music Awards 2019 red carpet event on June 3, 2019 at the Maumelle High School Auditorium.
Tickets and sponsorship information: ArkansasCMA.com