Country Gold at Shipshewana Event Center
LEROY VAN DYKE
Leroy Van Dyke, of “Auctioneer” and “Walk On By” fame, star of the movie, “What Am I Bid?” is known around the world as an entertainer, recording artist, radio and television star, actor, auctioneer and veteran of the Nevada circuit. He has recorded over 500 songs, and probably holds the record for most repeat-performance bookings of any working, name country music entertainer. He has worked 40 to 70 fairs and livestock events per year for over five decades, in addition to a great variety of other engagements.
He was born on a farm (not in a hospital) in rural Pettis County, Missouri, without the amenities of running water and electricity. He was reared on a 3,000-acre ranch southeast of Sedalia and became fully conversant in all aspects of farm/ranch operations. His father was also the pioneer truck line operator in central Missouri, and Leroy became an expert over-the-road driver, hauling furniture, livestock, freight and farm commodities. This early training developed in Leroy diverse occupational abilities and a work ethic that has served him well in every aspect of his life.
Elementary schooling for Leroy was in one-room country schools, then to high school at Sedalia, where he ranked third in a class of 180 graduates.
Leroy is a graduate of the University of Missouri with a dual major: Animal Husbandry and Journalism, with a minor in Speech. He received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, did one semester of graduate work, and was a member of both the junior and senior University of Missouri intercollegiate livestock judging teams. Between his junior and senior years at the University of Missouri, Leroy attended and graduated from Reppert’s School of Auctioneering in Decatur, Indiana.
After serving as a special agent, U. S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps, in Korea, Leroy was catapulted into show business while working as a fieldman in the purebred livestock advertising department of the Cornbelt Farm Dailies, a chain of livestock newspapers, when his self-penned “Auctioneer” recording went a million-plus just weeks after its release. He then joined Red Foley’s ABC-TV Network “Ozark Jubilee” in Springfield, Missouri, as a regular member, and continued in that position for three years until the show left the air.
He again had a multi-million seller with “Walk On By,” a record that stayed in the charts an incredible 42 weeks, nineteen in the number one position, and was later named by Billboard Magazine as the biggest country music record in history! In 1961, Leroy moved to Nashville, Tennessee, then, in 1962, became a regular member of the world-famous Grand Ole Opry.
Music industry experts named Leroy Van Dyke as the Country Music Entertainer of the Decade for the 1960s. He had the starring role in the 1967 movie “What Am I Bid?.”
Leroy was a founding co-host of “Country Crossroads,” the most widely syndicated show in radio history; he hosted his own syndicated television series, “The Leroy Van Dyke Show;” he hosted the 1965 Country Music Association Awards Show at which Ernest Tubb was inducted into the Hall of Fame; he was the first entertainer to receive the prestigious Country Music Association Founding President’s Award for contributing to the advancement and improved image of country music; he served on the board of directors of the Country Music Association, and on the board of the International Entertainment Buyers Association.
He was selected by the Country Music Association to represent it in showcase situations at the Waldorf in New York, The Monteleone in New Orleans, The Edgewater Beach and the Conrad Hilton in Chicago, The Ambassador in Los Angeles and numerous Country Music Association functions in Nashville.
Van Dyke is considered by industry moguls and by his peers to be the entertainer who put professionalism in country music. He was the first to blaze a trail and take a staged, produced, choreographed, self-contained country music show to the “Strip” in Las Vegas. He was the first to take country music to Bourbon Street in New Orleans’ famed French Quarter. He was the only country music performer ever to open a show for Marilyn Monroe.
Leroy is a 2001 inductee into the North American Country Music Association, International, Hall of Fame, and is a member of the Missouri Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2007, Leroy was the recipient of the Missouri Country Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2011, Leroy was inducted into the International Entertainment Buyers Association’s Hall of Fame.
Also, in 2008, Leroy was named the Alumnus of the Year by the University of Missouri (Columbia) College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. After more than five decades as an entertainer, Leroy has not missed a performance, and still travels in excess of a hundred thousand miles yearly around the world . . . he performs in all facets of show business, including fairs, festivals, concerts, rodeos, supper clubs, conventions, radio, television, recordings, the Nevada circuit, livestock events, agricultural shows and private functions.
On a personal note, should you ask, Leroy will tell you that there are only four things he ever wanted to do: sing, sell, write, and raise livestock. He is living his dream. His name is a household word in country music circles around the world. He is an auctioneering Hall of Fame member. He was a successful journalist, and is the author of “Auctioneering, Motivation, Success,” a work that is rapidly becoming the textbook of the auction profession. His Arabian mules are developing a reputation from New England to California and from Canada to the Deep South.
Barbara Fairchild’s vibrant personality, her love for humor and storytelling along with her extraordinary talent for singing country and gospel music make her one of the finest entertainers you will see. She has a sincere warmth that flows out of her to everyone she meets, whether on the street or as a member of the audience in one of her shows.
Barbara performs with her very talented husband, Roy Morris. They are really in love, and it shows. In the tradition of other husband and wife teams that brought laughter to millions, Barbara and Roy have a natural flare for comedy that is delightful to experience. They are such an important part of the Branson Entertainment Community.
Their Sunday Morning Worship Service that began in 1992 has continued to be a source of inspiration to the thousands of Branson visitors who attend each year. Countless people say. “A trip to Branson is not complete without being with Barbara and Roy on Sunday Morning.” Their special Veteran’s Service, is so important to them, held during Branson’s Veteran’s Homecoming Week in November. They believe we owe more to our Veteran’s than we could ever repay and take every opportunity to let our nation’s heroes know how important they are. Barbara and Roy’s faith is their foundation and the most important aspect of their lives.
Throughout Barbara’s exciting and extensive career she has received many awards and honors. Her nomination for two prestigious Grammy Awards, one for her #1 country hit, “The Teddy Bear Song” and the other in the music for children category, “Lullaby for Teddy” are highlights in her career. She is recognized as one of the finest female entertainers in Country Music. Barbara was one of Ralph Emery’s favorite guests during the years he hosted the top-rated “Nashville Now” show on the TNN television network. Ralph even trusted her to be a guest host for him at times in his absence. Through that show Barbara Fairchild became a household name to thousands of viewers.
Barbara’s talent has not diminished through the years and you can often see her these days on the RFD Network along with many of her peers on the very popular “Country Family Reunion” hosted by Bill Anderson.
Among the many television appearances during her career include, “The Tonight Show,” Hee Haw,” “A Salute to Country Music,” ” The CMA Country Music Awards,” and the three part special, “A Country Homecoming,” hosted by Ralph Emery. She has made several appearances on CBN (The 700 Club) and TBN and two tribute specials to the Legendary Dottie Rambo. She was thrilled to host her own TV Special, “Barbara Fairchild In England” on the BBC network, just to name a few.
TG Sheppard has always had an unstoppable passion for music. This passion along with 21 number one hits and being ranked among the top 100 country artists iof all time has made him one of the most popular live performers on tour today. It’s only natural with a show chock full of chart topping hits like “Last Cheaters Waltz”,”I Loved ‘Em Everyone”,”Do You Wanna Go To Heaven”, and “Party Time” that TG has developed a reputation as a solid performer who delivers exactly what audiences want. All this and more combined with a steadfast dedication to entertainment has truly made him one of the great Legends in country music.
T.G. knew early in his life that music was more than a hobby. He left his home in Humboldt, Tennessee, at the age of 15, journeying to Memphis to begin his career in earnest. Working in various bands, he began to develop his stage skills, learning how to put his own touch on the myriad of songs required to survive on the club and party circuit. Using the name Brian Stacy, he released his first record, “High School Days”, which caused a few ripples on the pop charts in 1966. The resulting acclaim brought him gigs as an opening act for some of the biggest acts in America, including The Animals, Jan & Dean and The Beach Boys.
The fledgling star veered off his musical course in 1965, reverting to his given name of Bill Browder and getting into the record promotion business. In a short time his passion for music, now redirected to furthering the careers of others, made him one of the industry’s most successful record promoters.
In 1974, T.G. found a song that would change his life forever. His astute ability to pick a hit song and promote it had paid off for numerous artists, yet T.G. kept thinking of his own musical aspirations. He knew Bobby David’s composition “Devil In The Bottle” was destined to be a hit, yet had no success in pitching the tune. After being turned down by eight record labels in 18 months, T.G. decided to cut the song himself. Heading to Nashville, he was signed to Motown, the mammoth R&B label that was trying to establish a presence in country music.
When he released “Devil In The Bottle” as T.G. Sheppard by night, he soon realized which of the two jobs would get his undivided attention. While promoting records for RCA, T.G. formed a close personal and professional relationship with Elvis Presley. The legendary performer appreciated T.G.’s unique style and personality. As a token of their friendship, Elvis gave T.G. his first tour bus in 1976, helping to provide him with the confidence to give up the promotion business and hit the road full time. During his first year on the road he scored numerous hits with the Motown imprints of Melodyland and Hitsville, including “Trying To Beat The Morning Home” and “When Can We Do This Again”.
Named “Best New Male Artist” in 1976 by CASH BOX, T.G. signed with Warner Bros. when Motown decided to get out of country music. His career then skyrocketed as he scored 14 consecutive number one songs, including such classics as “Only One You”, “Party Time”, and “War Is Hell (On The Homefront)”. In 1982, following this impressive “debut”, T.G. was honored as Music City News “Most Promising Male Vocalist”.
His sound – a smooth fusion of R&B rhythms, pop arrangements and solid country songwriting – was a blueprint for country music in the late 1970s and early 1980s. During this period, his style rarely changed, and fans came to rely on his substantial recordings of well crafted, slickly produced country-pop rhythms, highlighted by his evocative vocals.
The “promise” of T.G.’s early career continued into the 1980s, as he racked up one hit after another. His duet with Karen Brooks, “Faking Love”, scored yet another number one, and “Make My Day”, a duet with Clint Eastwood featured in the feature film “Sudden Impact” crossed over onto the pop charts.
In 1985, T.G. signed with Columbia Records, where he again found himself at the top of the charts with songs like “Fooled Around And Fell In Love”, “Strong Heart”, and “One For The Money”. During his Columbia days, he worked with renowned producers Rick Hall and Bob Montgomery to create four more albums to add to his repertoire.
By 1990, country music traditionalists had changed the course of the format, and T.G. found himself wondering how he fit the new mold. He chose to withdraw from recording at this time and instead concentrated on his live performances, touching audiences night after night with his tried-and-true repertoire of hits, delivered with non-stop energy and the same excitement he felt as a teen.
He also made a name for himself as an astute businessman. In 1988, he opened his private residence in the Great Smoky Mountains as a bed and breakfast. The 160-year-old log home, built high atop Moon Mountain, was an instant success and is still a popular tourist destination, although T.G. no longer owns the property.
The popular performer, who learned firsthand the kind of entertainment experience fans craved, was one of the original investors in the highly popular chain of country nightclubs, Guitars & Cadillacs. The clubs, located throughout the Midwest, serve as showcase venues for many emerging country singers as well as some of the format’s biggest stars.
T.G. also served as the national spokesperson for the Folgers’ NASCAR racing team for eight years. During a six-year span, he served as host/performer on “Folgers’ Wakin’ Up Country Tour”, which headlined throughout North America.
In 1995, he took a two-year hiatus from the road to perform exclusively for eight months a year at T.G. Sheppard’s Theater In The Smokies, a state-of-the-art theater in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. For the first time in his musical career, he enjoyed the luxury of going home every night after a show. But the wanderlust of a road musician was inescapable, as he returned to the road in 1997.
Charity work is a crucial part of T.G.’s career. Throughout the year, he works with many of the nation’s top charitable organizations such as Cerebral Palsy, Inc; St. Jude Children’s Hospital; The Alzheimer’s Association; The United Way; and ChildHelp USA.
T.G.’s first commercial album in over 13 years “Legendary Friends & Country Duets” has just been released. It is a duet CD with some of music’s biggest icons including Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Kelly Lang, Ricky Skaggs, The Oak Ridge Boys, Englebert Humperdink, Lorrie Morgan, Crystal Gayle, Delbert McClinton, The Whites, Mickey Gilley, Steve Cropper, Jimmy Fortune, and Wayne Jackson and the Memphis Horns. T.G. states that this is the music he is the most proud of. A 90 minute motion picture length dvd was also filmed as the sessions were recorded and has won the top award for best music documentary at the Tele Awards in Los Angeles, CA.
T.G. Sheppard’s ardor for life and unceasing energy allow him to fulfill his unrelenting passion for music. “Legendary Friends & Country Duets” is the latest means by which he shares that passion with the rest of us.
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.