The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will honor Lee Greenwood with a special spotlight exhibit. Lee Greenwood: American Patriot will trace Lee’s personal and professional life from his musical childhood in California through his 50-year-career. The exhibit will open May 10 and run through April 25, 2014.
Born Melvin Lee Greenwood on October 27, 1942, Lee was raised by his grandparents on their farm near Sacramento, California. He learned to play piano and saxophone as a child and quickly became a skilled entertainer. By the time he graduated high school, Lee was able to play most of the instruments in the school band.
In the early 1960s, Lee began working the Nevada casino lounge circuit. In 1979, Larry McFadden, Mel Tillis’ bandleader, heard Lee perform. He arranged for Lee to record some demo sessions in Nashville which led to Lee’s recording contract with MCA Records in 1981 and his work with producer Jerry Crutchfield.
Lee scored 20 Top 10 hits between 1983, including the chart-toppers “Somebody’s Gonna Love You,” “Going, Going, Gone,” and “Dixie Road.” He earned numerous industry awards, including ACM Male Vocalist of the Year in 1983, CMA Male Vocalist of the Year in 1983 and 194 and a GRAMMY for Top Mae Vocal Performance in 1985 for “I.O.U.” He also won CMA Song of the Year for “God Bless The USA” in 1985.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of “God Bless the USA.” The song was a Top 10 hit for Lee in 1984 and is one of America’s most popular and recognizable patriotic songs. It was featured prominently during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and during the aftermath of September 11, 2011.
Lee has been honored with the prestigious National Patriot’s Award, presented by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, for his patriotic songs and work with the armed forces, including more than 30 USO Tours. In November 2008, President George W. Bush appointed Lee to a six-year term as a council member on the National Endowment for the Arts.
In the mid-1990s, Lee began performing almost daily at the Lee Greenwood Theater in Sevierville, Tennessee. The residence lasted five years. He continues to tour, record and write new music. His latest EP, I Want to be in Your World, was released in 2011. He also devotes significant time to numerous charitable organizations.
Among the items on display in the Lee Greenwood: American Patriot exhibit are awards presented to him from United States military unites and veterans groups, stage costumes, a letter from President George H.W. Bush thanking Lee for participating in the 1989 Inaugural ceremony, Lee’s Henri Selmer Paris saxophone, Grammy, CMA and ACM awards and honorary doctorate degrees from Cumberland University and Lincoln Memorial University.