My mother owned an album by Tennessee Ernie Ford entitled, “This Lusty Land” which was released in the mid-1950’s, following his release of popular singles as early as 1949. Until recently, hearing the album as a child was my only recollection of this artist. Once again, I decided to broaden my horizons, by watching “Tennessee Ernie Ford: His Life and Times,” a DVD released under the KULTUR label. There were duplicate credits, indicating dates of both 1998 and 2000. However, it may have been released during 2002.
I’m glad that I watched it, and I don’t’ believe I’ve ever heard such a beautiful and resonant baritone voice in any “non-Classical” genre.
This 42-minute biographical documentary featured recollections and interviews with his colleagues, which included Ford’s sons and other musical luminaries, such as Della Reese and Rosemary Clooney.
While equally famous as a Country singer and radio talk show personality, Ford’s highly successful television show aired from 1956-1961, and he currently has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Ford (1919-1991) stood firm when the executives at NBC attempted to dissuade him from closing each broadcast of his show with a Gospel/Sacred tune, which they thought to be too risky. From the cards and letters that poured in from grateful viewers, he obviously knew his audience, and these Devotional tunes were the most popular segment of the show!
This DVD also contained roughly 60 minutes of bonus features, consisting of those closing Gospel/Sacred arrangements. When appropriate, Ford was supported by an excellent mixed choir. In the interest of variety, I wish that some of his Country music performances were also included here.
Apparently, Ford was an extremely likeable guy, and I now appreciate him as a National Treasure. I’d like to hear my Mom’s album again. What a voice!