Country music singer Eric Lee Beddingfield, who grew up in Augusta and Dearing, sang the national anthem. He also performed a pre-race concert.
On his Web site, elbrocks.com, Beddingfield has posted some memories of superstar George Jones, who died in April and who sang on the recording and music video of Beddingfield’s song The Gospel According to Jones.
“George and Nancy treated my family and me like we were their own,” writes Beddingfield. “I had no idea asking him to sing on one of my songs would turn into an incredible relationship I will cherish the rest of my life.
“As amazing as he was on stage and on record, I got to see first-hand his generosity and the incredible opportunity he gave a brand new artist like me. He was the first, the last and the only, and there will never be another one like him. I will miss him.”
Beddingfield made his Grand Ole Opry debut as a guest artist on Sept. 13, 2011, performing The Gospel According to Jones at Jones’ 80th birthday celebration.
He also joined The Oak Ridge Boys, Alan Jackson and Joe Diffie in singing Jones’ hit I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair on stage with Jones that night.
NICHOLSON BUILDING MEMORIES: My recent column about the Nicholson Building on Broad Street and its various nightclubs brought back memories for reader Charlie Byrd.
“I had a cousin that played there (when it was the Whisk-A-Go-Go) with The Celestials and Johnny Hensley. His name was Emory “Herbie” Howell,” Byrd noted.
He added, “I also remember Sammy O’Banion and the Features playing twice at Sego Junior High Sock Hops. Get this, they even had seventh grade end of the year dances at my cousin’s school, Bungalow Elementary, in Augusta. He was on the student council and had a part in having the Night Owls play a dance. That group later became the Crossroads band.”
DEAN Z WINS MEMPHIS CONTEST: The 2013 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest held last weekend in Memphis, Tenn., was won by a California-reared singer who bills himself as “Dean Z.”
Dean Z is a professional entertainer who at 17 moved to Las Vegas to pursue his dreams of becoming a famous entertainer. He has been living and performing in theaters in Branson, Mo., in recent years including the Legends in Concert show.
CHEROKEE NATION MUSICAL: Hit country singer and songwriter Becky Hobbs is staging the second full production of her musical Nanyehi: Beloved Woman of the Cherokee Aug. 27 and Aug. 30-31 at the Northeastern State University Center in Tahlequah, Okla., in the heart of the Cherokee nation.
It is being tied to the annual celebration of the Cherokee National Holiday.
Hobbs, a native of Bartlesville, Okla., wrote or co-wrote the 17 songs in the two-act musical and co-wrote the dialog with Nick Sweet.
The musical is based on the life of Hobbs’ ancestor Nancy Ward, also known as Nanyehi, a legendary warrior woman and peacemaker among the Cherokees who lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
The world premiere of Hobbs’ musical was staged in 2012 in Hartwell, Ga., just a few miles from what the Cherokees once called the center of their universe.
You can read more about Nancy “Nanyehi” Ward at: www.facebook.com/nanyehithemusical
SPEAKING OF NATIVE AMERICANS: The Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy at Phinizy Swamp is again partnering with the Augusta Museum of History to present “Searching for Prehistoric Indians in the Southeast” in recognition of November being Native American Heritage Month.
Thomas Jennings and Ashley Smallwood of the University of West Georgia, will discuss their recent Phinizy Swamp excavations at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, in the museum’s auditorium, Sixth and Reynolds streets.
The symposium is a prelude to the second annual Oka’Chaffa Indian Festival set for Nov. 9-10 at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park.
WILLIE’S NEW ALBUM: Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release the new Willie Nelson duets album, To All The Girls, on Sept. 24.
Guests on the CD include Dolly Parton, Miranda Lambert, Rosanne Cash, Sheryl Crow, Wynonna Judd, Carrie Underwood, Loretta Lynn, Alison Krauss, Mavis Staples, Norah Jones, Shelby Lynne, Emmylou Harris and others.