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.