Karen Fairchild still remembers when she and her bandmates in Little Big Town finally felt like a success.
“We knew we made it when Philip (Sweet) got a car,” she said on Thursday afternoon. She and her bandmates laughed, and so did the crowd of several hundred who came to see them in Nashville that day.
“We’d get stuck picking him up everywhere. It was like a morning ritual of ‘Who’s picking Philip up?’”
Today, the signs of success are little grander for the country quartet. On Thursday, they were inducted into the Music City Walk of Fame, joining a club that includes Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton.
Their star was one of three going into the pavement of Walk of Fame on Thursday.
The ceremony also included posthumous inductions for Tom Ryman — who built the church that would one day become the Ryman Auditorium — as well as the venue’s trailblazing theater manager Lula C. Naff. The Ryman is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.
Little Big Town was introduced by their friend Keith Urban, who recalled being transfixed when he first heard their breakout hit “Boondocks” on the radio.
“I was fascinated to meet the people who made that sound, and I realized what it was. It’s the closest thing to a family band that you’ll ever meet. It’s that sound that’s not connected by blood or last name – well, in the case of Jimi (Westbrook) and Karen, now it is. But there’s no connection, except the spirit. That’s what I feel when I hear Little Big Town.”
Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show told the story of Tom Ryman, a riverboat captain who was moved by a sermon to build the Union Gospel Tabernacle, which eventually became the Ryman. He said Ryman’s effort came from a question he was asked by preacher Sam Jones: “What will you do for your fellow man?”
“The story of Tom Ryman is not just a tall tale, but a parable for all of us,” he said.
Accepting the star, Ryman Hospitality Chairman and CEO Colin Reed wondered what Nashville might have been without it.
“Can you imagine what would have happened in this city over the last 125 years if that beautiful building was not built?” asked Colin Reed, Ryman Hospitality Chairman and CEO. “…It seems to me that Tom Ryman gave this town its initial home in this now great city.”
Naff was a female trailblazer in the entertainment industry, who first began booking performances at the Ryman in 1904. 40 years later, she would bring the “Grand Ole Opry” to the venue.
“Under Lula’s leadership, everyone who was anyone played the Ryman,” said country singer Jeannie Seely.
“I’m inspired by her fearlessness,” said Sally Williams, SVP of Programming and Artist Relations for Opry Entertainment. “I cannot imagine how courageous she had to be to do what she did (at) any time, much less when she did.”
Along with honoring Nashville’s past, Little Big Town looked towards the future.
“We were driving these same streets, and now we’re here with you guys,” Fairchild said. “It really can happen. You just have to believe. You’ve got to have faith and perseverance. This is for all the dreamers out there, and we look forward to standing up here and handing this plaque to someone else.”
Source: One Country on YouTube for the videos and Tennessean.com for the article