Even 26 years after his death, the music of Jackie “Keith” Whitley continues to inspire, and one Fayette County native fan wants to make sure his memory endures for years to come.
“I personally would like to thank all of the guests who came to my home recently to honor the Whitleys. They were honored by a representative of Ohio Governor John Kasich and many others, and I want to thank all of them for taking the time to honor all of the Whitleys for their contribution to country music,” Johnny Deans said. “We are trying to get Keith the recognition he deserved by getting a petition signed to induct him into the Country Hall of Fame in Nashville for all of the work he did.”
The Country Music Hall of Fame, located in Nashville, Tenn., has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, certifying that the museum operates according to the highest standards since 1987. The hall of fame is home to many exhibits showcasing the country music talent the United States has to offer. Other inductees into the hall of fame include: Garth Brooks in 2012, Johnny Cash in 1980 and Willie Nelson in 1993.
The petition is available to be signed at www.gopetition.com/petitions/induct-keith-whitley-into-the-country-music-hall-of-fame. As of Thursday, the petition had about 8,000 signatures, just shy of the 10,000 minimum goal to help get Whitley the recognition for all of his musical success and induct him in the County Music Hall of Fame.
Whitley was born in Ashland, Ky., on July 1, 1954 and grew up near Sandy Hook in Kentucky. He began his career in 1970 where he performed in Ralph Stanley’s band. His distinct voice helped to establish himself as a lead singer in bluegrass music. In 1983 he moved to Nashville, Tenn., to begin his own recording career.
Whitley’s first major success came as his song “Miami, My Amy” was released in 1986. This song reached the Top 20 Country Hit singles. The success did not stop and in 1988, his first three singles from his studio album Don’t Close Your Eyes became number one hits. In addition to the title song, “When You Say Nothing at All” and “I’m No Stranger to the Rain” were also number one hits. Whitley, during his short career, charted 19 singles on the Billboard country charts.
Sadly, Whitley died on May 9, 1989 at the age of 34. His later two singles, “I Wonder Do You Think of Me” and “It Ain’t Nothin’” were released after his death. “Til a Tear Becomes a Rose,” a 1987 demo taken from Tree that originally featured harmony vocals by childhood friend Ricky Skaggs, was one of two new songs added to his greatest hits. Lorrie Morgan, who married Whitley in 1986 and had one child with him, recorded her voice alongside Whitley’s in the song which won them the 1990’s CMA award for Best Vocal Collaboration.
“We are in the process of creating the Keith Whitley Fingerprint on Country Music Awards which will debut this Saturday in Ashland, Kentucky,” Deans said. “That show will be broadcast on July 1, Keith’s birthday, 2016 on BlueHighway T.V. on Dish Network on channel 73 for all areas. Stay with Keith Whitley – Hall of Fame on Facebook for more updates on future events.”