The Lifetime Achievement Award was created in 1996 to honor those Country Music Entertainers that have made a major contribution to the Country Music Industry and our Heart of Texas Country Music Association.

These entertainers have been in the business at least twenty five years. Each year, one recipient is chosen by the Heart of Texas Country Music Association Board of Directors and Tracy Pitcox.

1996 - Justin Tubb

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40 Year Grand Ole Opry Legend Justin Tubb was our first recipient. Justin was a frequent guest host of the Hillbilly Hits Radio Show. He worked many shows for us and even performed free of charge for the very first benefit show for our Heart of Texas Country Music Museum. He was one of our biggest supporters.

Justin wrote many hit songs including "Love Is No Excuse" (Jim Reeves and Dottie West), "Be Glad" (Del Reeves), "Walking Talking Crying Barely Beatin Broken Heart" (Johnny & Jack, Highway 101), "Imagine That" (Patsy Cline) and "Texas Dance Hall Girl" (Johnny Bush) "Be Better To Your Baby" (Ernest Tubb) and "Whats Wrong With the Way That We're Doing It Now?"

1997 - Kitty Wells & Johnny Wright

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Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright have worked with us on several occassions. Kitty and Johnny also broke ground on our Heart of Texas Country Music Museum. They have co-hosted our Hillbilly Hits radio show and donated some priceless pieces to our collection.

Johnny Wright began his career as a cabinet maker. He teamed up with Jack Anglin to form Johnny and Jack. Their recording for RCA led them to become the biggest duo in Country Music with songs like "Poison Love" "Ashes of Love" "Down South In New Orleans" and "Stop The World and Let Me Off." After Jack's death in 1963, Johnny went on to recrod for Decca Records and scored a number one song with "Hello Vietnam."

Kitty Wells (born Muriel Deason) decided to retire from the music business in 1952. She has worked the Louisiana Hayride and on personal appearances with Johnny and Jack. Johnny found a song titled "It Wasn't God Who Made Country Music." Kitty recorded it simply for the session fee. It became the first number one song for a female in Country Music. Seventy five albums followed and gave her the title of

"Queen of Country Music."

1998 - Floyd Tillman

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Country Music Hall of Famer Floyd Tillman has been involved in writing, recording and promoting Country Music for over seventy years. His annual Floyd Tillman Birthday Bash in Llano has attracted many fans including Willie Nelson, Johnny Bush and Darrell McCall. Floyd's historic Gibson guitar is displayed in our museum.

Floyd was one of Country Music's most prolific songwriters penning "Slippin Around" "I Love You So Muck It Hurts Me" "This Cold War With You" "Each Night At Nine" "Small Little Town" "I'll Take What I Can Get" "Let's Make Memories Tonight" and "I'll Keep On Loving You."

The evidence of his influence on the legends of Country Music was cemented with the award winning album "Floyd Tillman-The Influence" on Heart of Texas Records. The final album from Floyd Tillman brought some of his biggest fans together to record duets with the master including Willie Nelson, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Leona Williams, Frankie Miller, Dolly Parton, Lawton Williams, Justin Trevino, Darrell McCall, Johnny Bush, Hank Thompson, Ray Price, Connie Smith and Mel Tillis.

1999 - Freddie Hart

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Freddie Hart made a special appearance for us in 1999, performing two shows and being host to a special dinner in his honor with Claude Gray. Freddie also presented us with a Nudie designed jacket for the museum. His great hits like "Easy Loving" "My Hang Up Is You" and the "Keys In The Mailbox" will always be classics.

Freddie swept the Country Music Awards with "Single of the Year" "Album of the Year" and "Male Vocalist of the Year" with "Easy Loving." That song has become one of Country Music's biggest hits.

A prolific songwriter, Freddie also penned "Skid Row Joe" for Porter Wagoner, "Loose Talk" and "If Fingerprints Showed Up On Skin."

2000 - Big Bill Lister

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Big Bill Lister was given the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Big Bill began his career in Country Music in 1938 over KNEL radio in Brady.

Big Bill signed with Capital Records after his move to Nashville. He began traveling and opening shows for Hank Williams and appearing on the Grand Ole Opry. Hank wrote "There's A Tear in My Beer" for Big Bill. Bill would later find the original acetate and give it back to Hank Jr. Hank Jr. recorded his voice along with his dads making a piece of history possible with the duet selling over a million copies.

Big Bill is a member of the CMA of Texas Hall of Fame and has devoted his energy to promoting Country Music and our Heart of Texas Country Music Association.

2001 - Whisperin' Bill Anderson

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Country Music Hall of Famer Bill Anderson's career began to really take off after Ray Price heard him singing his self-penned "City Lights" on a caro radio and quickly covered it, thus earning Bill his first gold record.

Bill would later have songs recorded by Hank Locklin, Jim Reeves, Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, Jean Shepard, Justin Tubb, Connie Smith, Brad Paisely, Mark Wills, Steve Wariner and many others.

Bill's own singing career has gained him tremendous fame with hits including "Mama Sang A Song", "Bright Lights And Country Music", "I Get The Fever", "I Wonder If God Likes Country Music", "8X10", and "Still".

2002 - Frankie Miller

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The Blackland Farmer Frankie Miller was born in Victoria, Texas. He started working the nightclubs and schoolhouses around the Houston, Texas, area with his brother.

Frankie first recorded for Gilt Edge Records. He later moved to Starday and Columbia. His biggest hit "Blackland Farmer" was nominated for a Grammy Award and was actually a hit on two different occassions. Other great songs followed including "Baby Rocked Her Dolly" "A Little South of Memphis" "Family Man" and "As Long As I Have You"- a song he wrote for Webb Pierce and recently recorded by Dwight Yoakum.

2003-JEAN SHEPARD

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Grand Ole Opry Legend Jean Shepard gained fame as the first female artist to sell a million records. She achieved this massive accomplishment with her recording of "A Dear John Letter" with Ferlin Husky. That song would start a forty year career that included many hits like "Many Happy Hangovers To You" "Slippin Away" "Too Many Rivers" "I'm Tired of Playing Second Fiddle To An Old Guitar" and "A Tear Dropped By."

Jean Shepard was also married to Country Legend Hawkshaw Hawkins. Hawkshaw perished in the same plane crash that took the lives of Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas. Jean has carried the banner of traditionalists all over the world and appeared at our Llano Country Opry show in 2003.





2004-HANK THOMPSON

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Country Music Hall of Famer Hank Thompson's career is one of the longest and most prolific of any Country Music Entertainer. Hank started his career on radio as "Hank The Hired Hand." With hit records like "Whoa Sailor" "Six Pack To Go" "Blackboard of My Heart" "Rub A Dub Dub" and the immortal "Wild Side of Life." Hank also is credited with launching the career of Kitty Wells after she recorded the answer to the "Wild Side of Life" with her "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels."

Hank Thompson achieved the highest honor of any Country Music artist when he was inducted into the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame.