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January 7, 2009

GMA NASHVILLE, Tenn. – January 7, 2009 -- The GMA Foundation (GMAF) will induct artists Michael W. Smith, Dolly Parton, Dr. Bobby Jones and The Dixie Hummingbirds along with music producer Lari Goss into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame on Feb. 2, 2009, announced John W. Styll, president and CEO of the GMAF.

The GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Dinner will be held on Monday, Feb. 2, 2009 at The Richland Country Club in Nashville. The evening will begin at 6:30pm with a medallion ceremony and reception, followed by the induction ceremony and dinner which will begin at 7:30pm. Tickets are $150, and they can be reserved by calling 615-277-1366 through January 23 (while available). The Imperials, featuring the original back-up singers for Elvis Presley and Hall of Fame members, will provide entertainment for the event.

"This year’s class of GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductees have all achieved great professional and personal success in many different areas of the music and entertainment industries, but each shares a common heritage of the Gospel’s powerful impact on their lives,” said Styll.

The GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame was established in 1971 and has inducted more than 150 members since its inception, including 2007 inductees Phil Keaggy, The Statler Brothers, The Winans and Joe Moscheo. Previous inductees include Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Keith Green, Amy Grant, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Andrae Crouch, Sandi Patty, Vestal Goodman, Tennessee Ernie Ford, 2nd Chapter of Acts, The Oak Ridge Boys, Petra, Bill and Gloria Gaither, the Rambos, Evie, Richard Smallwood, Jake Hess, The Lewis Family, Thomas A. Dorsey, the Fairfield Four, Billy Graham and the Jordanaires.

About the Inductees:

Michael W. Smith
Michael W. Smith's contributions to music go far beyond creating and singing memorable songs. He is a mentor whose wise counsel has inspired a new generation of young artists and he is a leader whose creative vision has had immeasurable impact on the church and believers all over the world.

Born in Kenova, West Va., on Oct. 7, 1957, Smith wrote his first song at age five. In 1978 he moved to Nashville, Tenn., to work as a songwriter and in 1981, he signed to Meadowgreen Music as a staff writer, where over the next few years he provided gospel hits for such artists as Sandi Patty, Kathy Troccoli, Bill Gaither and Amy Grant. He began touring as a keyboardist with Grant in 1982 and the following year, after releasing his first album, The Michael W. Smith Project, became her opening act. His debut album garnered him a GRAMMY nomination for Best Gospel Performance. He became a headliner following the release of his second album, Michael W. Smith 2.

Twenty-five years after his first taste of success, he has become one of the best-known names in Christian music with a stellar career that boasts 18 albums, too many number one hits to count, three GRAMMY Awards (amidst 13 nominations), 42 Dove Awards, and an American Music Award among countless other accolades. Beyond his own musical career, Smith was instrumental in launching a teen club in Nashville, a record label with an entirely new way of doing things (Rocketown Records), and even a church (New River Fellowship) in Franklin, Tenn.

Throughout his career, he has had the opportunity to sing for presidents and national leaders, and counts among his friends President George W. Bush and his father, Bush, Sr., and the Reverend Billy Graham and his son, Franklin Graham. He is active in Billy Graham Crusades as well as The Samaritan's Purse, the ministry headed by Franklin Graham.

Despite Smith’s stardom, his involvement in the teen outreach Rocketown, his leadership in his local church, his business as an artist, an author and a record label executive, he sums up his life humbly as, "to be remembered as a God-fearing man who loved his wife and kids well."

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton is an iconic music figure who has reached a level of stardom reserved for an elite club. She is an GRAMMY Award-winning singer, songwriter, author, actor and philanthropist. In the 42 years since her chart debut, she remains the most successful female country music artist, with 26 No. 1 singles, a record for any female performer, as well as a record 39 Top 10 country albums. She also has the distinction of having recorded a Top 40 country hit in each of the last five decades.

Dolly Rebecca Parton (born January 19, 1946) grew up part of a poor, Pentecostal family (her grandfather was a fiddling preacher who wrote "Singing His Praise," which was recorded by Kitty Wells) of 14 in a small town in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains. At 12, she was appearing on Knoxville TV and, at 13, she was already recording on a small label and appearing at the Grand Ole Opry. After graduating from high school in Sevier County in 1964, she moved to Nashville to launch her career as a country singer.

Early on, Parton's singing caught the attention of Porter Wagoner. He hired her to appear on his program, “The Porter Wagoner Show.” She stayed with the show for seven years, during which time their duets became famous. She also appeared with his group at the Grand Ole Opry; toured and sold records. By the time her hit "Joshua" reached No. 1 in 1970, her fame had overshadowed Wagoner's, and she struck out on her own, though still recording duets with him. She left him for good to become a solo artist in 1974. Their partnership produced the mega-hit, multi-genre song “I Will Always Love You,” a song she wrote for Wagoner.

Parton went on to have (and continues to have) a internationally successful music career. Parton was named CMA's Female Vocalist of the Year in 1975 and 1976 and won the Entertainer of the Year trophy in 1978, one of only five women to achieve this accomplishment to date. Parton released her 42nd album, Backwoods Barbie, in 2008 to great critical acclaim, especially for the project’s endearing “Jesus and Gravity,” a song she performed on television’s most popular program, “American Idol.”

But, the multi-talented Parton’s success is not limited to music. She is an accomplished actress with acclaimed roles in “9 to 5,” “Steel Magnolias” and many other film and television shows.

Parton also changed the landscape of her Tennessee stomping grounds when she opened the Dollywood theme park in 1985. Dollywood showcases much of the music that has impacted her throughout her life, including many tributes to gospel music. Each fall, the National Gospel Harvest Celebration brings together many of today's biggest names in southern gospel music, and in 1999 the Southern Gospel Music Association opened the Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame on the grounds of Dollywood. The park also offers an array of themed shops that include many nods to gospel music.

Dr. Bobby Jones
Born in Henry County, Tenn., Bobby Jones always dreamt of a career in music. He excelled academically throughout school, graduating from high school at 15 and Tennessee State University at 19 with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. He also went on to earn a master's degree from Tennessee State and a doctorate from Vanderbilt University. While pursuing his master's, he taught elementary school in the Missouri and Tennessee education systems.

During his teaching days, Jones helped develop an idea for this local community, a pilot for what is now "Bobby Jones Gospel." First airing in 1976 on a local Nashville, Tenn., station, BET picked up the show for national syndication in 1980, where it has remained to this day.

During this period, Jones also created, produced and hosted "Bobby Jones World," a magazine-style show that incorporated gospel music with world-renowned authors, entertainers and national leaders. “Bobby Jones World” ran from 1978-1984. He also starred in the 1982 made-for-television NBC movie "Sisters, Sisters," alongside Diahann Carroll, Paul Winfield and Irene Cara.

In 1980, Jones received The Gabriel Award and an International Film Festival Award for writing and performing the black gospel opera, "Make A Joyful Noise." He and his group, New Life, were nominated for a Grammy Award in 1982 for "Best Performance by a Black Contemporary Gospel Group" for the album Soul Set Free. In 1984, he received the Gospel Music Association's (GMA) Dove Award for Black Contemporary Album of the Year for Come Together, a GRAMMY Award for "Best Vocal Duo for a Soul/Gospel Performance" for the single, "I'm So Glad I'm Standing Here Today," which he performed with country music star Barbara Mandrell, and an NAACP Image Award.

Today, Jones is a constant on BET's Sunday programming, serving as the host and executive producer of "Bobby Jones Gospel," and producer of "Video Gospel” and recently began a new series, “Bobby Jones Next Generation” on the Gospel Music Channel.

The Dixie Hummingbirds
Formed in 1928 in Greenville, S.C., by James B. Davis and his classmates, The Dixie Hummingbirds sang in local churches until they finished school, then started touring throughout the south.

Lead singer Ira Tucker joined the group in 1938 at age 13, and they signed with Decca Records. In addition to his formidable vocal skills, Tucker introduced the energetic showmanship - running through the aisles, jumping off stage, falling to his knees in prayer - copied by many quartets that followed. Tucker also took the lead in the stylistic innovations adopted by the group, combining gospel shouting and subtle melismas with the syncopated delivery made popular by The Golden Gate Quartet, as well as adventuresome harmonies, which the group called "trickeration," in which Paul Owens or another member of the group would pick up a note just as Tucker left off. The group relocated to Philadelphia in the 1940s.

During the years, a number of talented singers starred in the group -- their bass, William Bobo, baritone Beachy Thompson, James Walker, who replaced Owens, and Claude Jeter, who went on to star for The Swan Silvertones. The Hummingbirds added a guitarist, Howard Carroll, who added even more propulsive force to their high-flying vocals.

The Hummingbirds absorbed much from other artists as well, performing with Lester Young in the 1940s and sharing Django Reinhardt records with B.B. King in the 1950s. Tucker and the Hummingbirds inspired a number of imitators, such as Jackie Wilson and James Brown, who adapted the shouting style and enthusiastic showmanship of hard gospel to secular themes to help create soul music in the 1960s.

The group recorded for a number of different labels over the years, while touring the circuit of black churches and gospel extravaganzas. They occasionally came to the attention of white listeners -- at Café Society, the integrated New York nightclub favored by jazz cognoscenti, in 1942, at the Newport Folk Festival in 1966, and as backup for Paul Simon on the 1973 single "Loves Me Like a Rock." The group now consists of Ira Tucker (lead vocals), William Bright (vocals), Carlton Lewis, III (vocals), Cornell Mcknight (bass), Torrey Nettles (drums/vocals), and Lyndon Baines Jones (guitar & vocals).

In February 2008, "The Dixie Hummingbirds: Eighty Years Young," the first feature length documentary/concert film featuring the life and history of The Dixie Hummingbirds was released in commemoration of their extraordinary longevity as performers. The film has been shown on the Gospel Music Channel and has played at numerous film festivals.

Produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Jeff Scheftel, and executive produced by University of Hawaii Musicologist Jay Junker, the film is now available on DVD, featuring extensive interviews with Ira Tucker, Sr., archival footage, and following the current group as they perform in numerous venues, and rehearse under Mr. Tucker's spirited guidance, in their hometown of Philadelphia, and across the vast landscape of America.

Lari Goss
Lari Goss is best known within the Christian music industry in the areas of music production, orchestral arranging and keyboard artistry. He has produced critically acclaimed projects for such artists as The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, The Cathedrals, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Anthony Burger, Greater Vision, Christ Church, The Martins, Larnelle Harris, Phil Driscoll, The Gaither Vocal Band, Janet Paschal, and many others.

Along with Goss' impressive list of production credits, he is equally recognized on both sides of the industry for his signature orchestral arrangements. He has orchestrated music for such secular music giants as Warner Bros., Capitol, RCA, Columbia; and such artist names as Glen Campbell, Ray Price, B.J. Thomas and the Atlanta Rhythm Section. His arrangements have been heard in countless venues around the world, from the stage of Radio City Music Hall to "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson." Additionally, he has arranged and conducted music for such prestigious entities as the GRAMMY Awards, the Peoples Choice Awards, and The London Philharmonic Symphony, with whom he has recorded several award-winning albums.

Whether arranging for 10 or 100 pieces, his music is consistently noted by the dimension of unparalleled quality, undergirding power and heartwarming richness it lends alongside the other musical components of a project. When music to stir the heart and emotions of the listener is the requirement, Lari is widely recognized as the arranger of choice.

In addition to being one of gospel music's most respected producers and arrangers, Goss also is an accomplished artist in his own right. He has recorded several successful piano/keyboard albums and has written scores of songs, including the widely performed and recorded "Cornerstone." His keyboard style is distinctive and unique and his "Goss Sound" is legendary in the recording industry.

Besides his musical vocation, Goss also uses his industry networking for philanthropic purposes. This year marks the 5th Annual Lari Goss Invitational, a charity golf tournament that in previous years has benefited the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home.

The acclaim he has received from his keyboard artistry as well as his producer/arranger credentials have brought ever-increasing demand across the United States for Goss’ involvement as a speaker/teacher at various music symposiums and seminars. He is an Artist-in-Residence at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., where he teaches graduate level courses one day a week in Orchestration and Recording Studio Accompanying.

About the GMA Foundation:
The GMA Foundation (GMAF) is a non-profit educational association working in connection with the Gospel Music Association (GMA) The GMAF recognizes and preserves the history and legacy of all forms of gospel music and provides educational resources that encourage participation and appreciation by the general public. Founded in 1964, the Gospel Music Association serves as the face and voice for the Christian/Gospel music community and is dedicated to exposing, promoting and celebrating the gospel through music of all styles including pop, rock, praise & worship, black gospel, R&B, hip hop, southern gospel, country, and more. The GMA community consists of more than 3,000 members including agents, artists, church leaders, managers, promoters, radio personnel, record company executives, retailers, songwriters and other industry visionaries. The GMA produces the GMA Dove Awards, GMA Music Week and the GMA Academy. For more information, please visit




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