On a picturesque, warm, sunny day in Nashville, Tennessee, the city gathered to welcome the 98th, 99th, and 100th inductees to the esteemed Music City Walk of Fame. The day was nothing short of perfect for this momentous celebration.
Nashville's Music Mile contains the stars on the Music City Walk of Fame. It pays tribute “to those from all genres of music who have contributed to the world through song or other industry collaboration and made a significant contribution to the music industry with connection to Music City.”
Fans lined the sidewalk and gathered on the grass as WSM Radio's Bill Cody took to the stage to introduce the latest honorees. This year's distinguished inductees included Joe and Linda Chambers, founders of the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum, acclaimed artist Eric Church, and retiring Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. CEO Butch Spyridon.
As he acknowledged the incredible depth of talent within Music City, Bill Cody introduced Joe and Linda Chambers. Originally from Columbus, Georgia, Joe relocated to Nashville, where he met hall of famer Billy Sherrill and superstar Conway Twitty. Witnessing Sherrill's work turned Joe into an ardent admirer of the “stellar talent of the studio musician.”
United in passion and vision, Joe and Linda Chambers founded “Chambers Guitars,” which rapidly became a sanctuary for musicians from all corners of the country. Encounters with these gifted musicians inspired the couple to establish the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in downtown Nashville—a place dedicated to honoring the musicians, songwriters, producers, and engineers who have crafted the soundtrack of our lives.
The GRAMMY Gallery, located within the Museum, is the sole GRAMMY presence in Nashville.
In September 2022, Joe Chambers sadly passed away. Today, Linda Chambers was present to accept the award on their behalf.
Country music legend Garth Brooks attended to present the award to Linda. Brooks praised the integral role of behind-the-scenes musicians in creating musical magic and lauded the unique contributions of the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum.
Brooks commented that the Walk of Fame is “paved with stars honoring people who had a dream. The star goes down today honoring a man who is no longer with us, celebrating a life well lived. Right alongside him, we are honoring Linda Chambers, who is living a life well lived”.
Reflecting on Joe and Linda's selflessness, Brooks remarked, “These two have done and been doing it for someone else, which makes me love them even more.”
Upon accepting the award, Linda expressed her profound gratitude to those who had supported her and Joe throughout their journey.
“Joe's biggest joy in life was to lift up someone else,” Linda reminisced. “Joe's love and passion for musicians was in making sure they were recognized for their talents. It was infectious.”
Linda accepted the award not only for herself and Joe but also “for the gifted musicians who have impacted the world through music.”
Next to be honored at the Nashville Music Walk of Fame Inductee Event was CMA Entertainer of the Year, Eric Church.
Church was recognized for his considerable contributions to the city, generously donating his time and resources to support the preservation of Nashville's storied history. For instance, when Church learned that the Elks Lodge on Jefferson Street faced demolition, he contributed to its rescue. This significant location housed the original Club Baron, where legendary artists like Little Richard and Jimi Hendrix—both of whom have stars on the Walk of Fame—were discovered.
Church is set to open a six-story honky-tonk on Broadway called “Chiefs” in the near future.
ESPN journalist and long-time best friend of Church's, Marty Smith, had the honor of presenting the award. Smith shared a poignant story about relocating to Nashville and experiencing the transformative power of the city's collective creativity and soul, which could uncover pain and facilitate healing. Smith remarked, “What you have to remember is this: songwriters save lives…and one is sitting right there who saved mine,” gesturing towards Church. He continued, “Their work is a sanctuary where we can find comfort, shelter, and belonging. It just so happens that I found my sanctuary in Church.”
Smith went on to recount the loss of his mother and father and the subsequent encounter with Eric Church at a honky-tonk in North Carolina. Despite feeling a bit awkward, Smith approached Church after the show to shake his hand and express his gratitude for the way Church's music had provided solace during his darkest moments, ultimately saving his life.
Smith and Church's initial encounter at the North Carolina honky-tonk marked the beginning of a deep and enduring friendship, one that would see them sharing life's milestones and seeking each other's counsel before making any significant decisions. From that fateful moment when Smith confided in Church about the lifesaving impact of his music during trying times, their bond has only grown stronger. Smith offered a glimpse into Church's private life, highlighting his unwavering devotion to his wife and children—a facet of the artist that remains largely unseen by the public but one which Smith has had the privilege to witness firsthand.
During his heartfelt acceptance speech, Church reminisced about his arrival in Nashville back in 2000, driving a 1987 Chevy Blazer and carrying nothing but a guitar and lofty aspirations. He knew no one in the city but was determined to chase his dreams.
Being inducted into the Walk of Fame and soon opening his own honky-tonk on Broadway, Church admitted, surpassed even his wildest dreams. “I thought I had big dreams,” he said, “but this is beyond those things.”
Church expressed immense gratitude that Nashville had become his home over the past 23 years. “I met my wife here…had my kids here…it's become home to me,” he shared.
The honor, he noted, not only recognizes his career accomplishments but also his deep connection to the city he now calls home. “I'm very thankful – that's my main takeaway. I'm thankful to my maker, I'm thankful to my wife, my family, I'm thankful to all the partners I've had in recorded music. Most of all, I'm thankful for the fans.”
The final and 100th inductee for this year was Butch Spyridon. Arriving in Nashville during the 1990s, Spyridon took on the responsibility of leading the city's burgeoning tourism industry. He envisioned Nashville as the true Music City, believing that the city's most valuable asset—music—had not yet reached its full potential in the global spotlight. As Bill Cody pointed out, “although it took longer than expected, and due to his relentless efforts, leaders began embracing Nashville as Music City.”
Spyridon's extensive efforts have transformed Nashville, bringing about significant events like the NFL draft and the construction of a new convention center. His contributions have helped the city earn its reputation as one of the best places to visit in the world. Though Spyridon had been nominated for a star in previous years, he had always declined the honor. With his retirement approaching this summer, it seemed fitting for him to finally accept this recognition.
Garth Brooks returned to the stage to present the award to Spyridon, emphasizing his key role in bringing the Nashville Museum of African-American Music to the city. Brooks remarked, “The next time you're wandering around here thinking, ‘Man, who thinks of all this stuff?' It's Butch Spyridon.”
In his self-effacing acceptance speech, Spyridon expressed his gratitude and shifted the focus to his fellow inductees, highlighting how Joe Chambers and Eric Church had come together to save a condemned building. He also acknowledged the team he had worked with for years in achieving all that Nashville has become. With his characteristic humor, Spyridon quipped that if it weren't for the presence of Nashville stars, he would have just been talking to his family.
The Walk of Fame, which began in 2006, showcases the “wide, broad, and diverse musical heritage” of Nashville, as Spyridon pointed out. Having attended each ceremony for the last 17 years, he noted that they have “moved me, taught me, and meant more as I marvel at the ceremonies, messages, and understanding of how different and special this town is.”
As a reluctant, embarrassed, and humbled individual, Spyridon accepted the award he so rightly deserved. Alongside the other three inductees, he took his place on the Nashville Walk of Fame, saying, “This is one of the nicest honors I've ever received.”
A defining characteristic of Nashville is its self-effacing humility. The country stars I've encountered or observed are consistently filled with gratitude for what the close-knit community in this small city has done for them. In Nashville, stars are quick to thank their families, creators, and music community, recognizing that without their support, they wouldn't be where they are today.
Today's ceremony perfectly captured that spirit, honoring an artist (Eric Church), city leaders and visionaries (Butch Spyridon), and music lovers, historians, and supporters (Joe and Linda Chambers). It was, indeed, a perfect day for Music City.
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