Last night at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee the Peach Pickers honored country music legend Bill Anderson with the Georgia Music Foundation’s “Flame Keeper” award. The annual award is presented to someone who has impacted Georgia music. Bill Anderson, a University of Georgia graduate, started his career in music as a disc jockey in Georgia and has long kept in touch with his Georgia roots.
Each year, the Peach Pickers – Rhett Akins, Dallas Davidson, and Ben Hayslip – assemble a blue-chip group of friends for an evening of music at the historic Ryman Auditorium to benefit the Georgia Music Foundation. This year’s lineup included Jamey Johnson, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Colt Ford, Craig Campbell, John Berry and Bill Anderson.
“This annual night of music has been so successful because of the generosity of the artists who participate,” said Dallas Davidson, longtime chair of the Georgia Music Foundation. “The camaraderie on stage reflects the friendships and mutual respect that Ben, Rhett and I have for the musicians and Georgians who have been a part of and influenced our careers.” The efforts of the Peach Pickers and friends have enabled the Georgia Music Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting programs of music education, preservation and outreach, to award nearly $400,000 in grants to music programs at schools and non-profit organizations over the past five years.
Bill Anderson scored his first country music break in 1956 while he was working at a small country radio station in Commerce, Georgia. Anderson penned the song “City Lights” which went to the top of the charts on a recording by Ray Price. The song went to the top of the charts again in the 1970’s when it was recorded by Mickey Gilley. Since that time, Anderson has a string of country hits for himself and has written hundreds of songs for other artists. He and Alan Jackson – another Georgia native – were inducted in the Songwriters Hall of Fame last year.
Bill Anderson continues to show his relevance as a country music song writer and performer, even in his sixth decade of music making. He, along with co-writer and friend Jamey Johnson, helped pen the hit “Give It Away” that was recorded by George Straight. He also was a writer, along with John Randall, on the Brad Paisley – Alison Krauss hit “Whiskey Lullaby” Anderson is sought out by younger performers and song-writers and he says that he like to collaborate with the younger generation.
Congratulations to “Whispering” Bill Anderson – the 2019 Georgia Music Foundation “Flame Keeper.”