Kenny Rogers has been selected as the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s 2012 Artist-in-Residence. He will present two intimate evening performances at the Museum’s Ford Theater on May 9 & 10 showcasing his catalog of hits and the stories behind them. Established in 2003, the Museum’s residence program honors an artist who has contributed a large and significant body of work to popular American music.
“Kenny Rogers is the consummate entertainer,” Museum Director Kyle Young said. “As a member of a band or duo or as a solo artist, he has conquered the jazz, folk, pop and country worlds—not to mention his success as an actor and photographer. Kenny has the gift of telling stories and making you believe he lived them. We are thrilled that he will help us celebrate the 10th anniversary of our Artist-in-Residence program by bringing his stories and songs to the Ford Theater for two unique shows.”
Kenny has sold more than 120 million records worldwide and recorded more than 65 albums. Some of his 21 No. 1 hits include “The Gambler,” “Lady,” “She Believes in Me” and “Islands in the Stream” with Dolly Parton. He has earned three Grammy awards, five Country Music Association awards and eight Academy of Country Music awards, including Entertainer of the Year in 1978.
Born in Houston, Kenny formed his first band in 1956 called The Scholars while still in high school. The band released two singles and Kenny released “That Crazy Feeling,” a solo record, in 1957. He soon joined jazz band the Bobby Doyle Three playing stand-up bass. By 1966, he was a member of folk group the New Christy Minstrels, leaving a year later to form the First Edition. They went on to rename themselves Kenny Rogers and the First Edition and released “Ruby (Don’t Take Your Love to Town)” which went to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
From 1971–73, the band hosted their own variety show TV series, Rollin’ on the River. By the mid-1970s, the First Edition parted ways to pursue solo careers. Kenny released his solo single, “Lucille,” in 1977 which went on to win a GRAMMY. He then released “The Gambler” in 1978, a track that would go on to become his career song and earn him several industry awards. The five Gambler mini-series attracted over 100 million viewers and launched Kenny’s second career as a an actor.
Kenny’s run of hits continued over the next several years with songs including “Coward of the Country” and “Lady,” which was a No. 1 country and pop crossover hit written by Lionel Richie. He also became known for his duets. He recorded several hits with Dottie West including “Every Time Two Fools Collide” and “What Are We Doin’ in Love.” In 1983, he worked with Dolly Parton on one of the most popular duets in music history, “Islands in the Stream.
In 1985, Kenny participated in the historic recording of “We Are the World,” the multi-celebrity performance that raised millions of dollars for famine relief in Africa. A year later, he co-chaired the “Hands Across America” fund-raiser for America’s hungry.
Besides music, Kenny proved to have other talents. He’s a gifted photographer and has published several photography books. He was invited to the White House to shoot a portrait of First Lady Hillary Clinton and also wrote several short stories. He formed his own record company, Dreamcatcher Entertainment, in the late 1990s, and had another No. 1 with “Buy Me a Rose” in 2000. In 2010, Kenny celebrated his 50th anniversary in music by taping the television special Kenny Rogers: The First 50 Years, which aired on GAC. He released his first gospel album, The Love of God, in 2011 and is now working on a new album and finishing his autobiography, scheduled to be released later this year.
Tickets for Kenny’s Artist-In-Residence will go on sale on April 5 at www.countrymusichalloffame.org. Tickets are limited to four tickets per show and are available on a first come, first served basis and are non-refundable.