Late Sandy Hook native and country star Keith Whitley, in pursuing his career, moved to Nashville to further his work in country music. Recently, Friends Of Keith Whitley traveled to Nashville as well to hold a special event to further their growth for the non- profit so they could help more students with scholarships.
The goal of the organization is also to make the spotlight even brighter on new artists taking traditional country music forward to future generations.
Stan Hitchcock, singer/songwriter and creator of CMT was a major advisor in the creation of the Keith Whitley Fingerprint On Country Music Awards in 2015. He was present in Ashland when the first nominees were detailed in the first year. A long-time dear friend of Keith Whitley, he’s still in Keith's corner today supporting what's being done in Keith's name. Stan received an honorary award on the Nashville debut night of the awards and his acceptance speech touched the filled theater.
Randy Travis was also present to accept his King of Country award. He took the stage with songwriter Paul Oversteet, who won Songwriter of the year, as Paul sang one of the hits he had written for for Randy. Backstage, Randy settled into another comfort zone as he sang along with other artists on the show, Jon Bowlin and Tom Buller.
The crowd watched special tribute videos created to honor Daryle Singletary and Earl Thomas Conley, both of whom had their children present to accept their awards.
As the crowd watched the video for Lifetime Achievement Award they once again expected someone to accept for the winner but were speechless when Tim McGraw himself stepped out onto the stage as the video ended to accept the honor himself. Tim's speech was touching as was his cover of Keith's song Ten Feet Away. After the song he left stage to make his way into the audience to give Randy Travis a hug. Backstage he spent time with all the artists, crew, staff of Friends of Keith Whitley.
Wesley Dennis, Tom Buller, Ken Mellons, Kevin Moon, Kevin Denny, Billy Droze, Dwight Whitley and Michael Keith Whitley all gave performances that brought major applause from the large fan base.
It was no surprise to see many of Eastern Kentucky's Keith Whitley fans in the audience. Just goes to show you as with Real Country Music the Real Country fans hold true to their roots no matter where or what direction their growth takes them.