Another coal miner’s daughter, Crystal Gayle, returned to her native state Thursday to take her place alongside famous sister Loretta Lynn in the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.
The genre dominated the ceremony as country stars Gayle, Dwight Yoakam and Norro Wilson headlined a list of inductees that also included Brady Bunch alumna Florence Henderson and jazz performer Les McCann.
The most moving performance of the night was when Gayle, Lynn and a third singing sister, Peggy Sue, brought the crowd of hundreds to their feet with a jazzed-up rendition of “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” the song that helped make Lynn a country superstar.
The song, about the family’s humble lifestyle in Paintsville, Ky., was heralded by Gayle as her favorite country song ever because of the memories it sparked.
“We didn’t know we didn’t have much, but we had that love,” Gayle said.
Gayle, wearing a black and white gown with her signature long black hair stretching to her legs, also performed her smash hit, “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” The song not only was No. 1 on the country charts but reached No. 2 on the pop charts.
Lynn, who was part of the inaugural hall of fame class in 2002, at first kidded her sister that she wasn’t going to hand over the trophy.
“Crystal Gayle, this belongs to you, honey,” Lynn said. “Do you want me to take it home with me?”
“I think I can fit it in my bus,” Gayle responded.
Yoakam also got an introduction speech from a famous country singer, with fellow Kentucky native John Michael Montgomery greeting him to the stage.
“One of the most unique artists that had a huge impact on my life,” Montgomery said of Yoakam.
Yoakam was born in Pikeville, Ky., not far from the eastern Kentucky where Gayle and Lynn grew up, but he made his largest marks on the music scene in Kentucky’s neighboring states, Ohio and Tennessee.
Despite his limited time spent in Kentucky, he said the award will eclipse any other he has received.
“Everything I was going to be about and am about to this point in my life comes from southeastern Kentucky,” Yoakam said. “It was and is the cornerstone and foundation of my musical creative life and my personal life.”
Wilson, a Grammy winning country star, performed a medley of the songs he either performed or wrote, including “The Most Beautiful Girl,” sung by Charlie Rich, and “The Grand Tour,” a No. 1 hit for George Jones. Jones appeared in a video tribute for Wilson Thursday.
In his acceptance speech, Wilson remembered his college days, his former barber shop quartet and especially his southern Kentucky hometown.
“I love little baby ducks and slow moving trains and planes; I love Scottsville, Ky.” Wilson said. “…I love this golden moment. You’d better believe it.”
Although country music dominated the ceremony Thursday, jazz and musical theater also had their moments.
Lexington native Les McCann, who played along such icons as Miles Davis, provided a jazz flair with his induction. He didn’t attend the event but in a video statement credited his hometown for helping hone his craft.
“This is the biggest honor I’ve ever received, other than being born in Lexington,” McCann said. “What a perfect place to grow up in Lexington, to be raised the way we were, get us ready to be out here in the real world.”
Florence Henderson, perhaps best known for her role as mom Carol on The Brady Bunch, was honored for her role in such musicals as “South Pacific” and “The King and I.” Henderson, who also didn’t attend, gave a brief statement after the band played a jazzy rendition of the Brady Bunch theme.
“When I was a kid growing up in Owensboro, I could only dream of an honor such as this,” Henderson said.