Classic CMA Awards Moments, #4: Cindy Walker’s Hall of Fame Acceptance Speech (1997)

#4: Cindy Walker
Hall of Fame acceptance speech

Cindy Walker was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997, an honor that is still rare for women (only nine female artists currently hold membership). This achievement was made all the more remarkable considering that Walker was a songwriter. But her talent was undeniable, as she penned songs such as “Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream),” “I Don’t Care,” “Take Me in Your Arms” and “You Don’t Know Me.”

Although Walker was likely unknown to most of the audience, she stole the show with her wonderfully eloquent, heart-tugging speech. Walker’s mother Oree, which whom she had lived for much of her adult life, had passed away several years earlier. When Walker took the stage to accept honor, she read a poem that she had written to pay tribute to her mother‘s love:

In the 1980’s my mother bought me a dress for a BMI affair
And she said, ‘When they put you in the Hall of Fame, that’s the dress I want you to wear’
I said, ‘Oh mama, the Hall of Fame. Why, that will never be’
And the years went by, but my mother’s words remained in my memory
And I know tonight she’d be happy, though she’s gone now to her rest
But I think of all that she did for me, and tonight I’m wearing that dress!

Walker burst into tears and the audience gave the legendary songwriter a standing ovation. She passed away in 2006, and Willie Nelson honored her that same year with a covers album of a number of her classic compositions, timeless songs that will forever shape the genre.


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9 Comments on Classic CMA Awards Moments, #4: Cindy Walker’s Hall of Fame Acceptance Speech (1997)

  1. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar // November 6, 2008 at 9:34 am //

    I remember watching this with my parents as a kid. The dress was gold-ish in color and kinda sparkly if I remember right.

    A truly heartfelt and emotional speech. Pricless.

  2. I remember watching this too – When Cindy started her poem, I thought “oh no, they are gonna fire up the “get off the stage” music” Thank God they didn’t because it is one of my favorite memories of the CMAs…and all this from a woman I had never heard of…Now the Hall of Fame members get stand up from row 17 in the audience and hope the cameraman picks ’em out (Shame on you, CMA)

  3. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar // November 8, 2008 at 1:15 am //

    Indeed a great moment.

    I was watching the show that night with a bunch of people and I think that I was the only person in the group who knew anything about her, albeit mostly from the great Bob Wills and Eddy Arnold recordings of her songs

  4. Can anyone tell me where I can watch this video? I have seen at the Hall of Fame in Nashville but cannot find it online. Thank you!

  5. Awesome, i really enjoyed reading your post.

  6. Rich CummingsNo Gravatar // August 8, 2010 at 11:39 pm //

    I was at the CMHoF today and saw the video montage that included this poetic nod to her mother. Moving, very moving.

  7. Kevin John CoyneNo Gravatar // August 9, 2010 at 6:57 am //

    It’s finally on You Tube! I’ve added it to the post for posterity’s sake.

  8. That was a beautiful speech.

  9. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar // August 9, 2010 at 5:24 pm //

    Ripped it from YouTube. I’ll never let it leave the internet again!

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