Want to Go?
JIMMY FORTUNE CONCERT
Fri, Aug 30, 2019 7:30 PM
HUB 757 | 6801 Bridgeway Drive, Suffolk, VA
Tickets: Upper level $38.50 Gold (near stage) $48.50
For More Info: 757-535-0879
by Millie Voliva-Wiggs
DeWitt assured him he was grateful for him accepting the position.
“I told them I would stay with them until they decide they don’t want to do it anymore.”
It was during his stay with the Statler Brothers that he realized that he could actually write a song.
Fortune remained with the group until they retired — 21 years. The youngest of the group, Fortune was not yet ready to retire and ventured out to begin his solo career.
“Lew had about four more good years before he really started to suffer and he passed August 15, 1990,” he recalls. ”I pay tribute to him in all my shows.”
Fortune launched his solo career with his first project, WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES, in August 2003 on the Audium/Koch label. In June 2005 he released a gospel album, I BELIEVE, followed by a Christmas album titled FEELS LIKE CHRISTMAS. In 2007, he released a live concert DVD and a country album called WINDOWS in 2009.
He is a busy guy.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Fortune released “Lessons” in 2012, and his career propelled to new heights in late 2015 with the release of HITS AND HYMNS accompanied by a DVD through Gaither Music Group — it debuted at #10 Billboard Country Album, #1 Southern Gospel, and #6 Billboard Contemporary Christian. The DVD debuted at #1 on Billboard Music Video charts.
In 2017, still under the Gaither Music label, Fortune put together a compilation of his favorite songs called JIMMY FORTUNE SINGS THE CLASSICS.
In addition to the classics you are sure to hear music from his just released 14 song album also under Gaither Music titled GOD AND COUNTRY. It is produced by Ben Isaacs of the multi-award winning family group — The Isaacs.
One of the most heart-felt songs on the album is "Meet Me at Arlington." Fortune co-wrote the track with award-winning songwriter Dave Clark. The song is inspired by the story of a Gold Star mother challenging a teacher who panned the military — a true poetic tribute to those who have served our great country.
GOD AND COUNTRY is a timeless piece sure to inspire his loyal fans.
He visits Virginia as often as possible. At the time of this writing, Fortune, a Nelson County native, was on his way back to perform at the Rockfish Valley Community Center in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Hurricane Camille.
When the idea for the concert first came up Fortune decided to write a new song for the victims of Hurricane Camille called “We Won’t Forget You” — which he introduced for the first time at the Anniversary event.
He annually performs in Radford, VA at the July 4th Spirit of America Celebration.
When Fortune, currently living in Nashville, is not on the road touring he is busy working on a book about his family roots to present day (tentatively titled “Untold Fortune”).
“Fortunately” his country and gospel fans have a lot more to look forward too.
… and the beat goes on.
Country Music Hall of Fame and Gospel Music Hall of Fame member Jimmy Fortune will return to Virginia on August 30, to perform at the beautiful Hub 757 in Suffolk. As commitment to his former boss, the Statler Brothers, he continues his music with honor to the legendary group that gave him his start many years ago.
Last year, in recognition of his long career with The Statler Brothers and dedication to music, the singer/songwriter was inducted into the Virginia Music Hall of Fame in Williamsburg, VA.
Fortune has always followed his instincts and what you hear today inherently ties to his life experiences as an artist of yesterday.
Fortune’s musical profession is something he has prepared for all his life.
As a young boy, he thought everyone sang. Growing up number seven of nine children, singing in Church was part of his life for as long as he can remember.
“We all sang at Church so I just thought everyone sang,” he tells us. “I realized when I was six-years-old that not everyone could sing when a man standing next to me in Church opened his mouth and the most horrible sound came out. It kinda scared me,” he chuckled.
His momma informed him that not everybody could sing — it’s a gift that God gives you.
“That’s when I really realized it was a talent,” Jimmy confessed.
His musical roots run deep.
He was born in Williamsburg, but shortly after the family moved back to his father's hometown in Nelson County near Charlottesville. Both parents sang and his Daddy played mandolin and guitar. They would take the young boy with them to square dancing events and his daddy would let him pick on his guitar as a way of keeping him busy till it was time to go home — which was usually late.
At the age of eight, Jimmy found an old guitar in a dump near his house. It only had a few strings but he was just happy to have his own guitar.
Around the age of 12, his parents said they would try to get him a new guitar for Christmas. He really didn’t expect it
because he knew they couldn’t afford it. Imagine his surprise to see a new Harmony guitar waiting for him that morning. He played that guitar until he destroyed with many years of picking followed by a mishap on a fishing trip.
“I went fishing in the James River and when I went to throw my pole it hooked my guitar and pulled it into the water and that destroyed it,” he admits. “That guitar really got it all started for me.”
Years later the singer found another one just like it, almost brand new at a pawnshop. Today you will find that same guitar on display at The Virginia Hall of Fame and Musical Museum.
By age 13, he formed his first band with his friends Curtis and David Kidd. They performed their first gig at an elementary school PTA meeting earning them a
It was then he told his Daddy that music is what he wanted to do for a living.
His father was not amused. He said, “Boy, you can’t make a living playing music. Why do you think they call it playing?”
Little did his Dad know but it was a defining moment for the young singer. Even when he was younger, his classmates would give him a nickel to sing them a song.
“Why would I NOT want to do this?” he asked himself.
He couldn’t believe that he could do what he loved and get paid for it. Against his father's advice, he decided music was going to be his career path.
He went on to play VFWs, clubs and the hotel circuit like Ramada, Holiday Inn and the Sheraton throughout Virginia and Washington DC.
He was working six nights a week, four hours a night but confesses he wasn’t making the money to do what he had to do.
“I always kept a couple of side jobs to support my music habit,” he reveals.
Thanksgiving Eve 1981, would prove to be another defining moment for the singer. On a random night off a friend invited him to a jam session at the Wintergreen Ski Resort. It was there he crossed paths with Lew DeWitt, a member of the legendary group —the Statler Brothers.
They jammed together and Fortune thought to himself, "what a great story
I'll have to tell. I got to play with one of
Their conversation afterwards focused on DeWitt complimenting Fortune on his singing and Fortune letting DeWitt know what a big fan he was of the Statler Brothers.
They never even exchanged numbers.
DeWitt informed his fellow band mates that he needed to have surgery for Crohn's Disease and would need to be out for about six months. The guys understood and ask if he knew anyone who could fill in for him. DeWitt went on to tell them about a young man he met around Thanksgiving and felt if given the chance, he could do the job. Though DeWitt did not have Fortune’s contact info the Statler’s bass player Billy James did. Much to his surprise DeWitt gave Fortune a call right after Christmas. He didn’t reveal to Fortune what it was all about but told him the Statler Brothers wanted to talk to him.
It was another defining moment in the life of Jimmy Fortune.
Upon arrival Statler members, Harold, Phil and Don were there to greet him. Lew was not present as he was already in the hospital preparing for surgery.
They went down to Harold’s house, sat around his piano and sang together.
“Regardless of the outcome,” Jimmy thought. “I’ve got another great story to tell.”
They informed Fortune they had auditions already set up in Nashville and would call him in a couple of weeks.
He went back home and back to work. About a week later he got a call and they asked him to come to Nashville so they could record his voice to see how he sounded with the group. They had already recorded others for the position but wanted to give him a try.
This would be Fortune’s first airplane flight. It was right after January 1982, when the Air Florida Flight 90 crashed in the Potomac River.
He was nervous. He took off from Weyers Cave, VA to Pittsburg. From there his flight would take him from Pittsburg to Nashville. Pittsburg had snow. Waiting for the plane to leave, he could see out the window as they swept snow off the aircraft's wings. Fortune became anxious and began tapping his foot (that’s what he does when he’s nervous). The guy sitting next to him took notice and asked if he was ok.
“I just want to get off the ground,” Fortune replied to his fellow passenger. “I have to
get to Nashville for an audition with the
The passenger exclaimed, “The Statler Brothers! They are my favorite group.”
He then proceeded to stand up and announce to the whole plane that Fortune was on his way to audition for the Statlers. Everyone began
to hoot and holler — helping release some
of the tension.
Once in Nashville he completed his audition and was set to ride back to Virginia with the Statler Brothers on their bus. It was then that they offered Fortune the position to join them for the next six months while DeWitt was out.
His first show with the Statlers was January 28, 1982 in Atlanta GA. He had practiced for two weeks and he was ready. All the shows after that went really well.
Still, some people were skeptical of him taking DeWitt's place.
”Some people would actually walk around me in the autograph line and not want my autograph," he remarks. "I wasn’t trying to take his place at all. I was just trying to help."
In July that year DeWitt came back to the group but it was short-lived. The plan was for Fortune to still remain with the group for a while in case DeWitt needed him.
The guys had asked him what he planned to do after his stint with them. Fortune informed the group that he had been extended an offer from both Capital and Mercury records; the latter was the same label as the Statlers.
About a week later, the group had their first rehearsal since DeWitt's return. Afterwards, DeWitt and the other Statlers excused themselves into another room for a private meeting.
When they emerged DeWitt approached Fortune and said, “Look, I don’t think I can do this anymore. I’ve already talked to the guys
and if you want the job full time, it’s yours
— if you want it.”
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Fortune asked DeWitt.
“I didn’t want to take his job,” he relayed. “I just didn’t feel good about it.”