New Years Eve: Jimmy Fortune, Lynda Randle & Aaron Wilburn! - (December 31, 2018)
Jimmy Fortune toured, sang and performed with the legendary Statler Brothers for 21 years. He joined them first as a temporary replacement for Lew DeWitt, after DeWitt heard him singing at a ski resort and recommended him. Following an audition in Nashville, Jimmy was contacted by the Statler Brothers and performed his first show with them on January 28, 1982, in Savannah, Georgia. Due to the debilitating effects of Crohn's Disease, Lew was unable to return to the stage with the Statlers, andJimmy was hired as a permanent replacement in August of 1982.
Fortune quickly lived up to his name. He wrote the group's second No. 1 hit, "Elizabeth," on their 1983 album Today, and followed that with two more No. 1 hits–"My Only Love" (from 1984's Atlanta Blue) and "Too Much On My Heart" (from 1985's Pardners in Rhyme). Fortune also wrote the top-10 hit "Forever" from 1986's Four for the Show and co-wrote the top-10 hit "More Than a Name on the Wall" from 1988's The Greatest Hits.
Jimmy has performed in all of the U.S. States, in Canadian Provinces, and in front of audiences as large as 100,000. He was part of the Statlers' annual Happy Birthday USA celebration in Staunton, Virginia, for 14 years. He also sang on many of the Statlers' gold, platinum, and double platinum recordings. Jimmy's career included The Nashville Network's popular "The Statler Brothers Show" which aired for seven seasons and debuted in 1991 as the highest rated show for the network. Jimmy was privileged to perform at the White House on two occasions, once for President Ronald Reagan, and once for President George H. W. Bush. He also presented a special gift to actress Elizabeth Taylor by singing his song "Elizabeth" to her for a birthday celebration.
Jimmy and The Statler Brothers were inducted into the GMA (Gospel Music Association) Hall of Fame on October 29, 2007, and inducted into the CMA (Country Music Association) Hall of Fame in June 29, 2008.
After the Statler Brothers retired on October 26, 2002, Jimmy seized the opportunity to launch a solo career to share new music with his fans. His first solo CD, When One Door Closes, was released August 2003 on Audium/Koch. He released a gospel album, I Believe, in June 2005, a Christmas CD, Feels Like Christmas, in 2006, a live concert DVD in 2007 a country CD, "Windows" in 2009, "Lessons" in 2012, and "Hits and Hymns" CD and DVD through Spring House Productions in 2015. Jimmy is currently living in Nashville, writing, and touring.
Lynda Tait Randle, as Bill Gaither has fondly introduced her for over a decade, was born in the inner city of Washington, D.C. She is the middle child of seven and feels blessed to have had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home. Although her parents, Nathel and Maxine Tait, taught her and her siblings the love of Christ very early on, Lynda still experienced a tumultuous and painful childhood. Despite being led to the Lord at the young age of 12, it would be years later before she really experienced the freedom from bondage that only God could give, Music became a way out of pain and heartache for Lynda and as a result of this God-given gift, many doors of opportunity have opened up for her. Lynda's distinct alto voice has created opportunities for her to minister across the United States and around the world. Her gift has allowed her to share the stage with musical legends, from Andre Crouch to Gladys Knight. Lynda has opened for national sporting events and has had the distinct honor of being a musical guest for a Billy Graham crusade. She has been a favorite on the Gaither Homecoming Series and Videos. Her two most requested songs are "God On The Mountain" and "I'm Free." In 2005, she won a Dove Award for her album, "A Tribute To Mahalia Jackson." One remarkable element to Lynda and her ministry is her ability to quickly build rapport with audiences and draw them together regardless of age, race, or ethnicity. Her message and music is truly cross cultural. This is a theme that can be seen through her individual performances, women's conferences, books, and albums. Her most recent release,"Ageless Hymns: Songs of Joy" is the last in a series of three albums dedicated to specifically to those timeless, classic songs of the faith. This brand new "Songs of Joy" album is a lively collection of songs that will uplift, renew and encourage the soul.This project features favorites such as"Windows of Heaven," "Beulah Land,"" Heaven Came Down" and 'He Touched Me'. While many may know Lynda as a singer, songwriter, author, and TV personality, her most cherished roles are that of wife to Michael Randle and mother to her two precious daughters, Patience and Joy. Michael's background growing up on the streets of Kansas City's inner-city and his dramatic conversion experience give him a powerful voice to youth who find themselves in the same desperation he knew. Michael is currently the lead pastor at Mosaic Bible Fellowship, a new church plant in Kansas City, Missouri near the Historic 18th and Vine Jazz District. The Randles enjoy various occasions where they are able to minister together with Michael speaking and Lynda singing.
Aaron Wilburn brings the house down with laughter... and he does it without four-letter words or making his audience feel uncomfortable.
A feature on the Gaither Homecoming Tour and videos, he has endeared himself to thousands of laughter-loving fans with his own down-home brand of humor, as he talks about his southern roots, his family, children and his faith. It's common to see a grandfather laughing along with his teen-agers and children. As Aaron says, "There is no generation gap with laughter".
Little would one expect that the same guy that brings people to tears with laughter also has written songs that have touched the lives of so many. His gift of songwriting has brought with it Dove Awards as well as Grammy nominations. In 2005 Aaron was honored by his home state as the Alabama Music Hall of Fame put an exhibit of his life and music on display in it's honored halls in the company of such notables as gospel singer Jake Hess and the queen of gospel music, Vestal Goodman. They are surrounded by the likes of Tammy Wynette, Lionel Richie and Percy Sledge just to name a few.
In 2005 David Johnson of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame named Aaron Wilburn the official host/MC of the future Alabama Music Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
Whether he is on stage in an arena surrounded by 15,000 or in a banquet setting for a corporation or church, Aaron Wilburn is at home. If you tell him, "I loved your act", he'll probably tell you, "That's no act, that's who I am". And to borrow his famous three words, "He's funny!, bless his heart!"
Here's what has been said by Dr. Kristen Koehler, Director of Troy University's Davis Theatre: "Aaron Wilburn's show has been a real highlight of our season with our patrons at Troy University's Davis Theatre in Montgomery, Alabama. He truly is a wonderful story teller, and his songs were a big hit. We have had comedians on our season before who have received a standing ovation, but I have never heard our patrons calling out for an encore. He was a perfect fit for my audience. As several subscribers told me as they were leaving the theatre, he was just what we needed. We all needed to forget our troubles for a while. We needed some laughter to remind us that life is something to be enjoyed."