Savannah, GA – The music-rich Peach State of Georgia was center stage at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium on June 26th at the Fifth Annual Gretsch Presents Georgia On My Mind concert hosted by the Peach Pickers. This marked the first year that Gretsch was the presenting sponsor for the sold-out event.
The concert featured top singers, songwriters, and artists with Georgia roots and connections, and is the main fundraising event for the Georgia Music Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports music preservation, education, and outreach across the state of Georgia. Dinah Gretsch currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Foundation. Since 2014, over $300,000 has been raised from this annual benefit concert. Grants of up to $5,000 are awarded to deserving music programs and projects at Georgia schools and non-profits.
For the fifth year in a row, the Peach Pickers, the Georgia-native super songwriting trio of Dallas Davidson, Rhett Akins, and Ben Hayslip, assembled and hosted the star-studded show. The award-winning Peach Pickers have penned more than 70 #1 country songs that have been recorded by dozens of country stars including Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Brooks & Dunn, and Martina McBride.
Dinah and Fred Gretsch, fifth-generation daughter Lena Thomas, and many of their friends enjoyed more than two-and-a-half hours of music from country stars Kristian Bush of Sugarland, Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, Randy Houser, Jamey Johnson, Chris Janson, John Berry, Dustin Lynch, Michael Ray, and rising young singer/songwriters Travis Denning and Trea Landon.
With a fast-paced show chocked full of highlights, some of the most memorable of the evening included Jamey Johnson’s soulful rendition of “Georgia On My Mind,” John Berry and his wife, Robin, (soon to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary) performing his heartfelt #1 hit “Your Love Amazes Me,” and the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, Chris Jenson, ripping up the stage with his high-energy hits “Buy Me A Boat” and “Redneck Life.”
Surprise performers included Kristian Bush singing Sugarland’s debut hit single, “Baby Girl,” and Lady Antebellum’s Charles Kelley taking the stage and calling Houser, Johnson, the Peach Pickers, and other performers to join him in honoring the late Gregg Allman with a rousing version of “Midnight Rider.” It was one of many well-deserved standing ovations from the sold-out Ryman audience.
Other highlights included the presentation of three Georgia Music Foundation Flamekeeper Awards to legendary Hall of Fame singer/songwriters Pat Alger and Tony Arata, and to the family of the late country singer Daryle Singletary.
Alger and Arata performed together onstage and shared the stories behind some of their most famous songs for Garth Brooks, Clay Walker, Hal Ketchum, Lee Roy Parnell, Patty Loveless, and other country stars. Alger performed “Small Town Saturday Night” and “The Thunder Rolls,” and Arata sang “The Dance” and “Otis, Johnny, James, and Joe,” his tribute to Georgia music legends Otis Redding, Johnny Mercer, James Brown, and Joe South.
In a very special and touching tribute to the late Daryle Singletary, his widow, Holly, and seven-year-old twin sons Mercer and Jonah were joined onstage by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra to accept Singletary’s Flamekeeper Award posthumously.
Lisa Love, Director of the Georgia Music Foundation, recognized Dinah and Fred Gretsch onstage for their tireless efforts to promote music education across Georgia and around the country. After Dinah and Fred presented a $50,000 donation from the Gretsch Company to the Georgia Music Foundation, Dinah shared with the audience, “You’ve heard a lot of songs, you’ve heard a lot of stories, and you’ve heard a lot of dreams tonight, and that’s where music comes from. The thing that the Gretsch Company and the Georgia Music Foundation does is to try to give the opportunity to children in schools to participate in music; that’s what we’re all about. So give your children those stories and those dreams and those songs and we’ll have music forever. So Gretsch can last another 135 years.”
The evening’s three hosts, The Peach Pickers, closed the show and had the crowd on its feet with an impressive string of sing-along hits they’ve written including “That Ain’t My Truck,” “Anywhere With You,” “Huntin’, Fishin’ & Lovin’ Every Day,” “Boys ‘Round Here,” and the appropriately titled “I Don’t Want This Night To End.”
As the curtain closed on another successful Georgia On My Mind benefit concert at the Ryman Auditorium affectionately called The Mother Church of Country Music, the audience was reminded that Georgia’s rich musical history continues to thrive and that the future of country music is in some very talented, capable hands.