Thursday, March 29, 2007

SWAC's own Statler Brothers: "Virginians of the Year"

The SWAC area is oh-so fortunate to have some of the best neighbors anyone could ask for living amongst us. The Statler Brothers enjoyed worldwide fame as one of the most successful country music acts in history but they never let go of their roots here in the SWAC area. Now retired (except for Jimmy who is in Nashville recording), they are part of us, part of the community ... we attend church together, shop at the grocery store together, shop at Wal-Mart together ... they are admired for their strong family values and their love of Virginia.

Last week they were honored as the Virginia Press Association's "Virginians of the Year" ... a well-deserved and probably overdue title.

According to the Associated Press release:

Known for their tight harmonies and penchant for nostalgic songs, the Staunton natives won three Grammy Awards and dozens of other country-music accolades during a four-decade career that began as the opening act for Johnny Cash and ended with their retirement in 2002.

The quartet consists of brothers Harold and Don Reid, Phli Balsey and Jimmy Fortune, who joined the group in the early 1980s after original member Lew DeWitt quit because of failing health. DeWitt died in 1990.

For years, the Statlers said "thank you" to their hometown by giving a free Fourth of July concert in Staunton, where they still have their headquarters.

'It wasn't always easy living in a small town in Virginia,' Don Reid said at [the] awards ceremony. 'But we were always glad we did it that way because if we hadn't, we might not be here tonight, and if we hadn't, not all of our children would be Virginia-born, Virginia-reared and Virginia-educated, and that was important to us.' "

Our thanks and congratulations to Harold and Don Reid (Staunton), the late Lew DeWitt (Waynesboro), and Phil Balsey and Jimmy Fortune (Augusta County) for the music they added to our lives, the values they instilled in their children, and for being neighbors we all love and respect.

"The Statler Brothers are what happened to you yesterday and who you are today." --Don Reid

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