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Tammy Wynette's Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award was placed on loan Thursday, April 11, 2024, to the Red Bay Museum in Red Bay, Ala., by Wynette's family. Georgette Jones, the daughter of Wynette and George Jones, was on hand for the presentation. (Jason Collum/The Red Bay News)

Wynette Grammy finds home at Red Bay Museum

COURTESY OF JASON COLLUM, THE RED BAY NEWS

Calling it the best possible way to display and share their late mother’s latest award, family members of country music legend Tammy Wynette have placed Wynette’s Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award on loan to the Red Bay Museum.

The award was bestowed upon Wynette at a ceremony in Los Angeles in February, with Wynette’s daughters, Georgette Jones and Jackie Daly, along with Daly’s daughter, Kristina, on hand to receive it. Now, it will be displayed in what is the largest collection of memorabilia in the world that pays homage to the “Stand By Your Man” artist who was born and raised in Itawamba County and claimed Red Bay as her hometown.
An unveiling ceremony was held Thursday, April 11, at the museum in downtown Red Bay with some two dozen fans, relatives and area residents gathering in the Wynette room of the museum to see and hear from Jones, Wynette’s daughter with another country music legend, George Jones, and to see the award donated to the museum for display.

Jones said having the award placed in the Red Bay Museum was the most appropriate way to honor her mother’s legacy.

“We were actually at family’s house just a minute ago and we were talking about how this part of the country, both Red Bay and Tremont, meant so much to Mom,” Jones said. “And we were saying that she was literally a kid at Christmas if she got to come visit here or when she was at home. Some of our family would be able to visit her. I know this is the best place for this (award) to be and Scotty (Kennedy) and everyone here at the Museum works so hard. It is such a beautiful place in her honor, and it means the world to our families.”

Kennedy, curator of the museum who was also a close friend of Wynette, said he was ecstatic when he learned the family wanted the award to be displayed in Red Bay. “About two days after the (Grammy) event, Georgia sent me just a really sweet text saying, ‘Jackie and I have talked, and we’d love to loan you the Grammy Award to display at the museum.’ I got a little teary-eyed. I was more than thrilled.”

Wynette, who died at her Nashville home April 6, 1998, was one of six musical artists and groups honored February 3 with the 2024 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Also honored were Gladys Knight, Donna Summer, the Clark Sisters and Laurie Anderson. N.W.A. Jones said the fact her mother was honored more than a quarter century after her death speaks to how her trailblazing work still resonates in the industry.

“I was full of pride, for sure. I was so happy and proud for Mom,” Jones said about receiving the award for Wynette. “Mom always felt like the Grammys were the ultimate accomplishment in a career for her because you’re voted on by your peers there. It’s not just your fans, which of course mom loved her fans, but the recognition coming from other artists really meant a lot to her, that she would be acknowledged with this kind of award. We were really thrilled for her, and it was kind of terrifying being there at the same time. We were surrounded by so many people who we admire and have grown up listening to and being around, so it was kind of a moment for us to be there on her behalf, to be able to accept that for her. I just know she’s looking down from heaven with a big smile on her face.”

Jones said the decision to place the award on loan to the Red Bay Museum made perfect sense for her family.

“That was probably the easiest decision we could ever make,” Jones said. “There are four of us girls and the thought of trying to figure out who was going to keep it where and if we were going to share it and what house . . . it just seemed so complicated and silly, especially when it’s kind of hard to appropriately have it admired or observed in any way that would be special at our houses. And so, the first thing that popped in our mind was Scotty here in the museum, because they’ve done so much to honor Mom. I think this is probably the biggest exhibit of anything for Mom anywhere and they’ve done such a good job at putting things together, and with her family and our family and friends being right here in this area, it just seemed like the perfect place for her to be honored. She would love that it’s here in Red Bay.”

In order to make room for Wynette’s latest award, Kennedy and the Red Bay Museum, with Wynette’s family’s blessing, recently transferred two awards that had been on display in Red Bay to the Tammy Wynette Legacy Center in Tremont. One of those was the Hall of Fame award bestowed on Wynette and given to her family in 2020 from the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience, or MAXX, in Meridian. The other award is the Academy of Country Music Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award from 1999, one year after her passing. Kennedy has also been pivotal in helping steer other pieces of Wynette memorabilia too big for the Red Bay Museum for display in Tremont, including the gate to Wynette’s mansion in Nashville as well as a car Wynette once owned.

Legacy Center director Larry Cantrell also attended Thursday’s presentation, and thanked Kennedy, the Red Bay Civitan Club and Jones for helping the Tremont center in promoting Wynette’s legacy. He shared about an upcoming annual event in Tremont that will pay homage to the “First Lady of Country Music” and also mark the official opening of the Tammy Wynette Legacy Theater.

“It’s going to seat about 500 folks and we’re really proud of that,” Cantrell said. “It’s going to be May 3-5.”

Cantrell said one of the unique aspects of the new theater is the stage, which was built using wood from an old home Wynette – who was born as Wynette Pugh – lived in during her first marriage to Euple Byrd.

“She and Mr. Euple Byrd lived in that house when they were very young,” Cantrell said. “The old house has fallen in, but (family members) have given us the lumber off the house, so when you look at the stage when you come to the Tammy Wynette Legacy Center, it is a model of the home that Tammy grew up in with two doors, the two windows and the wood off the house where she actually lived. We’re so proud of it.”

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