Writer: Marty Martel©
(Nashville, TN-6.9.12) R.O.P.E. (Reunion of Professional Entertainers) was the initial beginning for CMA Music Fest Week, and what a kick-off it was, with “R.O.P.E.’s Breakfast With The Stars.” It was not the official kick-off of CMA Festivities, but it was considered the best country music show to open the week here in Nashville, Music City USA, home of the Grand Ole Opry and Traditional Country Music. If you missed our show, then you missed pure country music at its best. The following is the list of artists who were in attendance:
Mel Tillis, Brenda Lee, Jean Shepard, Charlie McCoy, T.G. Sheppard, George Hamilton IV, Geo. V,
Jim Ed Brown, Moe Bandy, Mac Wiseman, Jan Howard, Ronnie McDowell, Freddy Weller,
 Roni Stoneman, Bobby Lewis, Bobby G. Rice, Exile, Karen Wheeler, Helen Cornelius, Leona Williams,
Robyn Young, Kelly Lang, Rattlesnake Annie, Jett Williams, Johnny Moore & Dianne Sherrill
Just so everyone knows, R.O.P.E. does not stand for retirement of professional entertainers and never has, the definition been so wrong by so many. Gathered in the New Nashville Nightlife Theatre as you can see from above, were a group of artists, including 5 Grand Ole Opry Legends, and 4 Country Music Hall of Fame Members, along with some of country music’s great names.
These artists attended this breakfast to be with their fans, and you would have to have been there to understand this gratifying morning of camaraderie, picture taking, autograph signing, and a healthy breakfast. No road managers or personal managers telling the fans to step back and not to get too close to the stars, just great fans paying honor and enjoying their favorite artists. The band was awesome and the artists were as awesome as they ever were in the prime of their careers. No ego’s were brought into this theatre, and the fans were in true form, loving every minute of this super show by having time together to spend with their favorite artists. It was an event of importance because of the attendance which was a sold-out crowd. Fans from Sweden, Germany, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Australia, and other countries, gathered to be close to these great artists.
For me to give you a run down on who sang what, and how the fans enjoyed each artist, and all of the pictures, handshakes, autographs, and hugs, etc., would be lost by my memory, because all I could do was watch and listen as each artists, and I truly mean each artist was greeted by the entire audience as they sang one of their most successful songs.
But I want to mention how the program began. Ron Elliott, member of the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame played an instrumental version of “America” to pay tribute and honor to our military men and women, those we have lost and those who are still serving, and all of the veterans, the widows and widowers of those who have passed.
Our host for our breakfast was who it should be, Keith Bilbrey, and as usual he carried the program from start to finish with his knowledge and history of each artist, and their place in country music. Keith is missed so much by all on the radio airwaves, and we were proud that he accepted our invitation once again to host Breakfast with the Stars. Thank you Keith-you are the best of the best.
Missing from the line-up were Dickey Lee, who had called me the night before our June 6th event to advise me that his brother had been killed in an automobile accident and he was leaving to go to Mississippi to be with his family. Please keep Dickey and his family in your thoughts and prayers. Also, Jeannie Seely’s husband, Eugene Ward, who is R.O.P.E.’s legal counsel, was hospitalized overnight and Jeannie and Gene could not be with us. Razzy Bailey was a no-show, and T. Graham Brown had lost his voice from a concert the night before and his doctors advised that he not sing or talk for a couple of days. We understand these things happen, but we sincerely hope that Eugene and T. Graham are doing better.
One of the best parts of my morning was that Hall of Famer and Grand Ole Opry Legends, Jean Shepard and her husband Benny Birchfield came to the breakfast because they wanted to see their longtime friend Mac Wiseman, and to be with their fans. When Mac arrived he asked to be seated right beside Jean & Benny, and then that is when all of the talking started. I never seen three friends try to catch up on old times, memories, and all were making sure that they got all the news they could from each other. Mac looked great and this event was one of the first ones that Mac has attended for many months, and it was so great to see him with his artists friends, and his fans. He has been so important to R.O.P.E., and is still a member of our Board of Directors.
 Brenda Lee and Mel Tillis spent time together getting caught up on the country music news, and their long friendship. I could go on and on about how the artists, who were seated together in the middle of the room, wasted no time in greeting each other and sitting down and talking about how long it has been since they had seen each other. Like I said, you would have had to have been there to witness the excitement in that room.
We were extremely grateful to Ch. 4 news for covering our event, and for the fine article written by Peter Cooper of The Tennessean, which appeared next day in the paper.
I hope this short article with some of the pictures, will give you an idea of how great the feeling was to see these artists mingling with their fans-it was as good as it gets. No loud music, plenty of steel guitars and fiddle, and just plain pure traditional country music. I hope you will feel that you missed a super show, but I want you to know that it will happen again next year, so make your plans to come to Nashville 2013 for the country music week, and I can promise you that you will not regret your choosing to come and enjoy our Breakfast with the Stars.
A special thanks to all of the artists who gave of their time and talents to attend this show. It gives hope that country music is alive and well and in the good hands of what country music was meant to sound like. There is “NOT DOUBT” in my mind that we are seeing a turning point in what we hear on country radio, because of the stations who have grown tired of playing music called country, but in reality there are few and far between great country records out in today’s so called country music. I am wondering when our industry will no cater to artists such as Lionel Ritchie, (I love his pop music) to use our country music as a stepping stone to success because they cannot keep their careers alive in their own genre of music, so they come over to country, and the record labels embrace them as big names that will only help country music. That is hogwash. REAL COUNTRY MUSIC WAS SEEN AND HEARD THIS PAST JUNE 6TH AT THE NEW NASHVILLE NIGHTLIFE THEATRE WITH R.O.P.E.’s BREAKFAST WITH THE STARS.
I normally go down on Lower Broadway to see the festivities, which I did again this year, and I was appalled by some of the music I heard from the honkytonks. 4 rock songs and 1 country song. It seems like money is the name of the game, not country music. Yes there were some great acts and bands playing real country music, but the week began with PURE COUNTRY MUSIC at our R.O.P.E. Breakfast
Before I end this article, on behalf of our Board of Directors, we want to thank Kenny and Diana Jansen for making this one of the most memorable functions that R.O.P.E. has ever had. If you have not been to the New Nashville Nightlife, I urge you to make a stop there when you get the chance to do so. It is right down the street from the Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Music Valley Drive. They helped make our event, one that will be continued each year because of the requests from the fans who said they would be back if we would have another Breakfast with the Stars, and that is exactly what we are going to do.
I invite you to join with us in keeping true country music as the cornerstone of our music industry. For all of you younger artists and fans, we are not a retirement organization, we promote traditional country music, and have for almost 30 years, and will continue to do so.
I sincerely hope that this article comes through with all of the pix and text, but if it does not please accept my apologies for not being a computer whiz, but I hope you will get some kind of an idea of how great this show was.
Thank you.
President-R.O.P.E. Intl.

R.O.P.E.'s own Char Stevens and band hosted one of our regular Sunday Socials a while back this year. This is just a sample of some of the enteratainment that you'll miss if you don't attend.  I don't know anywhere else you could get a better deal than this, along with the fabulous meals from John A's and their excellent service.







It's a wonderful album and to get a copy of it, you can contact Billy at the email address below, or call Laurie Dashper, 615-207-3680.  It's one of the best I've heard in a long, long time!

One of our newest members, Abigail, recently recorded "Old Flames".  This is the kind of talent that's going to move to the big time.

    http://www.freewebs.com/reunionofentertainers/Abigail Old Flames.mp3



When you read the following two articles, then you will understand a little more about the insight of the country music industry on Music Row, and how it differs from the Big City of Nashville.  Music Row which lives in its own little world.  If you want to be a part of the big wheel, sometimes the price you pay is costly, but if you control your own life, your image, and WHAT YOU WANT, I believe you can be super successful.  Ask Toby Keith, and I am sure he could give you some great advice.  Gretchen and Dierks are two successful artists and they speak their own mind in these articles. 


Being successful in country music is not all peaches and cream with gold and silver bangles-it is a stressful struggle.  For those that dive in head first, that is a mistake, but for those that walk softly, look, and listen, and take notes, there is a good chance to be successful.  I wish that those with aspirations to have a music career could all have their dreams come true and live happily ever after, but the cost of success and how you get it can be very painful.


It can be done with the right team of people.  I offer the names of Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift for examples.  Don’t give up on your dreams, but don’t let them turn into nightmares for you.  The following two articles are worth you time to read.


Marty Martel






><b>Gretchen Wilson</b><br>GEORGE WALKER IV / FILE / THE TENNESSEANIn 2009, Grammy-winning country singer Gretchen Wilson parted ways with her record label, Columbia Records, an imprint of Sony Music Nashville. Within months, she started her own label, Redneck Records, from her Lebanon farm, released her album I've Got Your Country Right Here and now, less than a year later, is celebrating two Grammy nominations for one of its tracks, "I'd Love To Be Your Last": She's up for best female country vocal performance for the ballad, and its writers, Rivers Rutherford and Sam and Annie Tate, are up for best country song.


I was singing Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn songs in their entirety before I was speaking intelligible sentences.  I used to stand up and do comedy routines that I'd heard, like Eddie Murphy and stuff. I know it's crazy to think they would allow me to speak like that, but we were kind of redneck hillbillies.

It took me until I was 25 before I started realizing I wasn't going to find a record deal in Southern Illinois, that I had to come to Nashville to find it.

I wasn't a spring chicken and was pretty set in my ways.  I auditioned for every record label on Music Row and was turned down by everybody because I wasn't in there going, 'What can I do? Can I dye my hair? Can I lose 20 pounds? Can I put on a blue sequined gown?'

I knew I never wanted to sit down to an interview and try and remember the story I told last time.  You have this vision in your head of what you think it's going to be like when you become this famous country singer, and you've dreamed about this moment since you were a little bitty girl. But it's nothing like that when you get here.

It's a job so much like everybody else's job.

You never get to be off when you're a celebrity... . Can you imagine what it's like walking out on stage when there's 4,000 people out there expecting you to be what they've envisioned you to be and you just don't feel like being that person?  Some days you walk out there and you're like, "I just don't feel good. I've got cramps."

There's nothing I can ever do to change that I am a redneck woman. But there are moments that I'm a lot like everyone else, too. I think the biggest lesson I've learned is I'm not going to look at country radio as a make-me-or-break-me kind of deal anymore. I know that I can reach my fans in other ways if that's what I have to do.

The label politics are just gone out of the whole deal, but I wouldn't be successful if I hadn't gone through the years that I went through with Sony and learned as much as I did. Every right step that we took and every wrong step we took really helped me to better run my own business now.

It's extremely satisfying to know that you ultimately are in control of your own career and own destiny. When you are involved in a big (record label) like that, so many people are making decisions for you that you don't even know.  I like to write my own quotes, if you don't mind.

I don't like it when people take a photograph that you've taken and they run it through five different channels and pretty soon you look like Pamela Anderson.  It's nice to know you've left every conversation the way you want to leave it.

My manager in the very beginning said, "Be very careful of the toes that you step on the way up this ladder that you're climbing up right now because they are directly connected to the (butt) you'll be kissing on the way back down."

Nashville is a big city, but Music Row is a small town. There's a part of me that, when I wake up every day, goes, "See, I'm not crazy. I believed in this record, and I believed in this music, and now somebody is realizing I'm not crazy." I get to go, "I was right."



><b>Dierks Bentley </b><br> LARRY MCCORMACK / THE TENNESSEANDierks Bentley has built an enviable country career with songs that range from toe-tappers to sultry ballads. But last year he threw country music for a loop when he stepped out of his commercially viable comfort zone and into the world of bluegrass with the album Up on the Ridge. The record has been a critical coup, resulting in the best reviews of his career and multiple awards show nominations. At the Grammys, the father of two is up for three awards, with two nods in best country collaboration with vocals and a mention in the best country album category.

(Up on the Ridge) wasn't a career move. It was just a record of passion. In the country world, there's a lot of fluff that goes on and it can be more about the game than it is about the music. And this was a chance for me to work with the musicians I love and write songs we love.

I stepped off the escalator of country music and just did something that didn't make a lot of sense to anybody.

When I looked back on what I learned making Up on the Ridge, it is what a great town Nashville is. To make a record like this and have it be nominated for CMA album of the year and be No. 1 on the bluegrass charts for several weeks and be part of the Grammys, just all the love I've felt has reminded me of why I love Nashville so much and what a great town this is to be creative in.  I make decisions on the fly without thinking about the implications.

I always wanted to make a bluegrass record, and I didn't want to do it at the end of my career but in the middle.

It really made me realize that my music has always been a blend of both of those (country and bluegrass) worlds.

Writing for me changes with every record.

There are some guys in town that are really smart and have it all figured out. They find two or three people and they write songs with them and they save a lot of time just writing with the same people over and over again. My style of writing is more like a shotgun blast. I write with all sorts of people, maybe they've had hits, maybe they've not.

I probably have written more songs on my albums than anyone I know except maybe Taylor Swift. But I really discovered making theRidge record that it's fun to listen to other songs, and I enjoyed it. There are a lot of great songs out there, and I just wanted to find something that complements the (next) record and works well in the framing of what you've already written. So I really have reached back into the community.

Someone told me a while back, make sure you pick a hit you can live with because you're going to sing it the rest of your life.  I think we set a model from the beginning that a lot of people followed, which was touring and touring hard and even passing up some big tours opening for 30 minutes and instead going out and playing two and a half hours in small bars. We really liked the audience in our face and being part of the show. It made us honest.

It's the biggest cliche in country music, but the fans are my biggest takeaway. You try and not take yourself too seriously with what you do, but I take myself really seriously when I'm on stage. I know that people are there because this music is part of their lives.  I try to avoid looking at people as part of a label or as part of a call sign for a radio station. I just like being around good people.

I love the fact that I can be a man and be a little boy. I get to go on the road and play Xbox with the guys in the band and drink beers and play music and rock out, and then I get to come home and have a real life with real responsibilities and be a father. A man can still go be a boy, but a boy can't go out there and be a man.



Sherytha Scaife, Peggy Sherrill, Carol Phillips, Sandy Neese, Mary Martin, Polly Edenton, Cecile Light, Pat McCoy, Jean Stromatt, Carolyn Sells, Patsy Bradley, Corky Wilson, Jan Ray Suk (Left to Right)


Jean Stromatt is one of the pioneering women who helped establish the foundation of the music industry. She is now an active member of the Board of Directors of R.O.P.E. (Reunion of Professional Entertainers, which I am President of this great organization. So being that I know her better than any of the other honorees, I wanted to write this article and give Jean and all of the ladies a thank you for paving the way for women in who are so important in our music industry, and have played a major role in creating the industry as it today. By the way, most of the women are still actively involved.
Jean is one of the reasons why the music industry was so efficient in its early years, and why the industry has been so successful because of the creativity of these women. I have been privileged to work with Jean on many of our R.O.P.E. Projects and I see the passion that she holds for country music.
Although many of these women were not given the honors or recognition they deserved during their lifetime, it is never too late for anyone to say “Thank You Ladies,” and that is why Arts at the Airport and the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, in conjunction with SOURCE, brought these ladies together to celebrate the opening of The SOURCE Behind the Music, an exhibition honoring these pioneering women.
In 1965, Jean was President of the Music City Women’s Association, and when you read her biography you will see why she and the other women have meant so much to our Nashville music industry for so many years, and are still working in many facets of our industry. Jean was also the treasurer of the Madison Chamber of Commerce for 9 years, from 1985 to 1994.
SOURCE was founded in 1991 as a non-profit organization supporting women executives and professionals who work in all facets of the Nashville music industry. In 2003 The SOURCE Foundation Awards were established to honor these pioneering women. Caroline Carlisle is the curator and producer of the exhibit, and Karen Edgin is the designer.
We extend our congratulations and gratitude to you Jean, and to all of your lady friends, for your devotion and contributions to help our music industry build a foundation that continues to stand the test of time, and also to those who are doing what all of you women wrote the book about-how to make the music industry successful. Without all of your support and dedication, I am not sure where our industry would be today. I also want to thank the Arts at the Airport, and Raul Regalado, president and CEO of the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, for seeing the vision of how women in the music industry need to be honored for their contributions and achievements.
I urge all who travel to and from our great city to stop by and enjoy the exhibit, by allowing SOURCE the opportunity to share the stories and images of these dynamic and awesome women. You will get a better idea how this music industry has been successful through the years. The artists are the stars, but behind scenes are the ones who really make our industry work. They are an extremely important part of the music industry, and without them, there would be no industry. Once again Jean, I extend my congratulations to you as my personal friend, to all of you ladies as a group, and finally it is time that all of you are getting your much deserved ‘THANK YOU AND THE INDUSTRY’S SINCERE GRATITUDE.”
The Source Behind the Music exhibit is a part of the our Nashville Airport Terminal located on Concourse “C”, past security at the Food Court.




Image below:: (From left) Mission Specialist Nicholas Patrick, Pilot Terry Virts, Mission Specialists Robert Behnken and Kathryn Hire, Commander George Zamka and Mission Specialist Stephen Robinson. Image credit: NASA

Steve Robinson, member of the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, took along some of his favorite music which included a CD titled “Golden Hits and Scarlet Ribbons,” by his friend and Steel Guitarist Hall of Famer Ron Elliott.

Steve also had a piece of cloth about 3x5 that he had all the folks at the Steel Guitar Convention to sign and has that with him also. He really loves country music and the steel guitar.

Congrats to one of the great steel guitar players in country music, Ron Elliott, on a most memorable event in his life and music career.  We are proud of his achievements.

Marty Martel

Pres., MSP Inc.

Pres., BKD Promotions

Pres., R.O.P.E. Intl.

Ph.(615) 822-6713

Fx.(615) 824-3830





Jim Ed Brown, left, chats with Vince Gill at the R.O.P.E. awards banquet on Thursday at the Al Menah Shrine Temple in Nashville.

We sincerely thank Peter Cooper of the Tennessean for joining our 25th Anniversary of R.O.P.E. last night and for the 21st Annual Golden Dinner/Awards Show.  His article reflects how strongly R.O.P.E. continues to grow, and though he was he had time constraints last night to get his story into the paper, as you can see by his article, his hand wrote an article that gives an insight to what true traditional country music is and what it means to the legendary artists and their fans.  Where else can you go to an awards show and not be hounded by security guards and where most of the "so-called name artists," find no time to gather with their fans and leave their managers, security dogs, and booking agents to fend for themselves.  Last night you would have had to have been there to enjoy the comraderie between the artists and fans, and to my surprise, there were many young people in the audience who also were there to witness what it is like to be able to walk up to the legends in country music and say hello, take a picture, shake hands, get an autograph and just talk.  Oh by the way, Vince Gill was there for the complete evening and he is one of today's artists who know what the word legends means.  He was a gracious as always and I guess it is because he understands what a fan means to an artist, and he has learned well from his legendary friends at the Grand Ole Opry.

So, thank yu Peter Cooper and the Tennessean and to all of the other media and photographers who spent the evening with us and we invite all of you to come back next year for the 2009 Celebrations in June at the Fan Fair and for our 22nd Annual Banquet/Awards Show in Oct. 

A special, special thanks to The Time Jumpers, Vince Gill, Hazel Helms and Jean Hughey for being a part of this great evening.  Oh yes, and what a great place to hold our banquet at the Al Menah Shriner Temple here in Nashville. 

Legends gather for R.O.P.E. awards

By PETER COOPER • Staff Writer • October 10, 2008

Laughter suspends the time. Familiarity breaks through any showbiz airs. At the Reunion of Professional Entertainers awards Thursday night in Nashville, deeper concerns ruled the evening.

"A fan said to me, 'I grew up with your music, and I want us to grow old together'," said Jeannie Seely, standing next to her table at the Al Menah Shrine Temple as legendary figures walked, talked and hugged around her. "That's the way I feel about these people."

To country music fans, "these people" are heroes of the genre. At the R.O.P.E. function, they are respected as such, but they are more than that. Asked why she attends the event each year, Opry star Jean Shepherd said simply, "You get to see old friends."

Some of those old friends also get recognized and singled-out. At the CMA and ACM Awards in recent years, Kenny Chesney has been named the entertainer of the year. At the R.O.P.E. awards last night? The entertainer of the year was 52-year Opry veteran Jimmy C. Newman, who remains an invigorating presence on the show, playing his unique "Cajun Country" songs.

If it seems unlikely that some of today's country stars will be performing on the Opry 52 years from now, Newman had some advice on how the current crop might weather whatever storms could appear between 2008 and 2060.

"They should go watch what Little Jimmy Dickens does," he said. "He's the last of the breed, and he's the best that ever was. That man is an entertainer."

"IN THE GARDEN" has been a labor of love for super steel guitarist Ron Elliott for a long time.  He has wanted to go into the studio and record with his longtime friend and Hall of Fame steel guitarist Legend Don Helms, but their schedules would not permit them to record together until recently, and now the CD is completed and ready for all to hear.  In a way as Ron says, "What an honor to work with Don on this wonderful memory."  I add to that, it is great for posterity.
Please visit Ron's website for more info on how to order "In The Garden," and view his great website.  His web address is as follows:

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