Jackson, part of country music’s famed class of 1989, was invited to join the Country Music Hall of Fame 28 years after he signed his record deal with Arista Nashville.
Ayrika Whitney/USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee
Jerry Reed, Don Schlitz and Alan Jackson became the three newest Country Music Hall of Fame inductees at a ceremony Sunday, Oct. 22.
Their portraits – on multiple plaques for each artist: one for display in the Country Music Hall of Fame and the other given to the artist or their family members – were created by an Ashland City artist, and have been for several years.
Country Music Association CEO Sarah Trahern said at the induction announcement earlier this year that Reed’s, Schlitz’s and Jackson’s plaques will join about 130 others on the Country Music Hall of Fame’s walls.
To create the portraits on those plaques, the Country Music Association commissions Ashland City resident Jammie Williams to sculpt the likeness of each inductee in clay.
Williams said he typically sculpts all three portraits at once, working until he gets one ready for critique. After the final versions are approved, Williams creates a mold of each, makes copies and Francis & Lusky creates the award plaques.
Williams said he usually has about six weeks to submit the molds to the Nashville-based company, but the time to sculpt each portrait varies.
Larry Lusky said Francis & Lusky has created and maintained every single plaque in the Country Music Hall of Fame, a job dating back decades.
Each solid bronze, 18- by 24-inch plaque hanging in the Hall of Fame weighs about 100 pounds, he said, and the wooden replica for the artists to take home weighs in at about 10 pounds. The weight, he insisted, is the only way to tell the difference between each plaque.
Lusky said Williams has done a “great job” with the portraits.
Country Music Association Senior Director of Awards and Industry Relations Brandi Simms meets with Williams to talk about the upcoming inductees and to provide photos for reference prior to Williams sculpting the portraits.
When he’s not working on sculpting, Williams works independently as an artist and teacher, doing private commissions and posting to Facebook when he has art classes available.
He worked as an assistant to sculptor Alan LeQuire for a decade, as well as an in-house artist for Oz Arts Nashville for a few years.
Williams began working with LeQuire in 2003, and in 2009, began assisting him with the sculptures.
In 2013, he began teaching at Watkins College and the Renaissance Center, and two years later, the Country Music Association recruited Williams to take over sculpting Country Music Hall of Fame inductee portraits from LeQuire.
According to his website, other artists Williams has sculpted for the Country Music Association include Roy Clark, Barbara Mandrell, Charlie McCoy and Reba McEntire, to name a few.
“It has been a true honor for me to create these sculptures,” Williams wrote in an email to the Times. “It is amazing that I get to help create the gifts of appreciation given to these incredibly talented people.”
Kelly Fisher, reporter for the Ashland City Times, can be reached at [email protected], 615-801-3866 or on Twitter at @KellyPFisher.
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