Andy Griffith has been in Nashville all week recording his third gospel album for Sparrow Records, an album of Christmas songs recorded with Marty Stuart and Nashville's finest studio musicians. At a reception hosted by Stuart at the BMI Music Row offices on Wednesday, January 15, Griffith was honored by Music City for bringing music to America through his musical guests on "The Andy Griffith Show" and his subsequent gospel albums.
At 6 PM, when the event was scheduled to begin, there were already many people in the BMI building. Bob Elmore from Cookeville told me he arrived an hour early to make sure he didn't miss it. The Main Event was not long in arriving. Shortly after 6 PM, Marty Stuart and his wife Connie Smith arrived accompanied by their very special guests, Andy and Cindi Griffith.
Since it was a rather intimate gathering of less than 200 people, an informal receiving line almost immediately formed for photos and hand shakes with Andy. First up to shake Andy's hand were people like Mayor Bill Purcell and other Nashville big wigs, but soon Andy was shaking hands with the Barneys, Ernest T's, and Claras among us bringing a treasured Mayberry moment to many.
The presentations began with Marty Stuart introducing Andy as "America's Sheriff." BMI followed by giving Andy an impressive plaque for his contribution to the music industry. The plaque read: Special Citation of Appreciation
presented by BMI to Andy Griffith
In gratitude for a half-century
of partnership with BMI
and in recognition of your contributions
to music, film and television
and the values of the American Heartland
As he received the award, Griffith told the audience how he had trained to be a singer, how a Broadway producer had sent him home, telling Andy his voice was too brilliant, "almost painfully so," and how the young man from North Carolina had gone on to become an actor. "Here on the back end of my life, I'm a singer again!" Andy exclaimed.
A couple of other presentations were made, followed by Mayor Purcell who presented Andy with a gold record. "I am the only one who can present a gold record BEFORE the project is finished!" quipped the Mayor. Nashville Sheriff Daron Hall made Andy an honorary deputy of Nashville prompting Griffith to remind him, "I am already a lifetime member of the National Association of Sheriffs!"
After the presentations, Marty Stuart asked Andy to tell the story of a poor juggler named Barnaby, a moving Christmas tale that will probably be included on the upcoming project. As he has done since "What It Was Was Football," the beloved storyteller from Mt. Airy held the audience enthralled with his tale.
Before Griffith left the BMI office, Christian Activities publisher Kathryn Darden had the opprtunity to meet Griffith and present him with the two Mayberry editions of Christian Activities Magazine, one from 2001 and one from 2002.
Andy will appear on the Grand Ole Opry this Saturday's 6:30 p.m. CST. The show will be telecast live on 650 WSM-AM and televised on CMT from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m CST. Check your local listings.
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