Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Hollercast podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame announced its 2015 inductee class. An enthusiastic crowd awaited the announcement, which was conducted with Executive Director, Robert Lawson, as well as Halfway to Hazard.
Those to be inducted into the 2015 Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Class include Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell of Backstreet Boys, Montgomery Gentry, Larry Cordle, Clarence Spaulding, Pete Stamper, The Moonglows, and Doc Hopkins. Let’s take an inside look at each of the inductees.
The Backstreet Boys received worldwide fame in the 1990s. They soared up the charts with hit songs “I Want It That Way,” “Everybody,” “Quit Playin’ Games,” and many more. Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell have given back to their communities in central Kentucky over the year and always said they are proud to call Kentucky home.
Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry got their start playing the honky tonks in central Kentucky. Both would explode into the country music scene with their hit song, “Hillbilly Shoes.” The duo would gain hit singles over the years including “Where I Come From,” “My Town,” “Daddy Won’t Sell the Farm,” and “Speed,” just to name a few. They continue to release new material and support Kentucky charities.
Larry Cordle has been well known in the bluegrass and country music industry. Fans will recognize his song, “Murder on Music Row,” that was made a hit thanks to George Strait and Alan Jackson. His songs have appeared on albums that have sold over 55 million from Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Ricky Skaggs, and more. He is well respected in the music industry and continues to perform with his band, Lonesome Standard Time.
Clarence Spaulding has been in the music industry managing bands over the years. He opened up a club in Lexington, Kentucky, working with artists such as Ray Charles, Lee Greenwood, and Janie Frickie. He hired Exile as the house band and soon became their road manager when they became successful. He helped manage different acts including KT Oslin, Lorrie Morgan, Eddie Rabbitt, and Brooks & Dunn. These days he works with Jason Aldean, Terri Clark, Rascal Flatts, and Kix Brooks.
You cannot think of Renfro Valley Entertainment Center and Barn Dance without thinking of the legendary Pete Stamper. The Korean War veteran has been a member of the Renfro Valley entertainers since 1950. He was a part of Red Foley’s “Ozark Jubilee” television show, the Grand Ole Opry, and the “Porter Wagoner Show.” At one time, he served as road manager to Dolly Parton. He also worked with Patsy Cline, Wanda Jackson, Jim Ed Brown, Jean Shepherd and more. He wrote the book, “It All Happened In Renfro Valley,” which is available for purchase.
The Moonglows were a well-known r&b and doo wop group in the 1950s and 1960s. The original lineup from Louisville included Bobby Lester, Harvey Fuqua, Alexander Graves, and Prentiss Barnes, with guitarist Billy Johnson. They were originally called the Crazy Sounds, but were renamed by disc jockey Alan Freed as the Moonglows. They were successful on the charts with hit songs “Sincerely,” “Most of All,” We Go Together,” “See Saw,” and “Ten Commandments of Love.” Their songs have appeared in several movies. The group would disband in the 1960s, but their sound would remain as a piece of r&b and vocal group history.
Born at the turn of the century in 1900 in Harlan County, Doc Hopkins would be known for playing banjo and singing on WLS National Barn Dance and the WJJD Supertime Frolic. He helped form the Cumberland Ridge Runners. He would play at folk festivals in the 60s and appeared at the National Folk Festival in 1982 as the oldest performer that year. Not only did he sing the songs, but he knew the story behind the songs.
Fans of Kentucky music history can take part of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony on April 10, 2015, in Lexington, Ky. It will be held at the Lexington Convention Center and always highlights the life and times of each performer. The last few years have been with sellout crowds with proceeds going back to the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.
Be sure to visit the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in Renfro Valley. It is located less than a mile directly off of Exit 62 on I-75. The tremendous amount of work is reflected on the historical lesson one can get while looking through the exhibits. Check out www.kentuckymusicmuseum.com.