Over the course of his almost 70-year career, Jim Halsey has represented nearly thirty members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. But you know him best as The Oak Ridge Boys' long time manager and “godfather.”
Jim, you’ve worked with the Oaks for over 40 years. Where were you when you first saw them perform and what did you think?
In 1973, at a record company showcase of their artists, the all-Gospel Oak Ridge Boys brought an electric excitement to an otherwise uneventful evening. I was totally knocked out, visited backstage, and wanted to see the reaction of a Country music audience.
Early 1974, they had the opportunity to open a Country show in N. Tonawanda, NY. Their all-Gospel show had the audience yelling, screaming, and applauding, and they had several standing ovations. I knew that—with the right direction, expanding their repertoire, and the right team—they had it for superstardom.
In the parking lot after the show, we gathered in a circle, held hands, prayed and expressed gratitude to the Creator!!! I told them they were ‘three minutes away’ (a hit record) from being superstars. I wanted to help them find it! That started our successful path together.
What was your initial goal for them? Was there anything you asked them to do or change?
Being ‘seen and heard’ by the right industry execs, the expanded audiences, getting on radio and television, opening for major stars, finding the right record company and producer. It’s about building a good team.
You've directed the careers of a Who’s Who list of entertainers—many who are now in the Country Music Hall of Fame—booking them into major venues around the world and setting precedents along the way. Has there ever been a time when you felt you had done it all, that you had achieved everything you originally set out to achieve?
There are always new ideas, places to go where we haven’t been. The excitement of new horizons, new projects, new methods.
In light of the recent global pandemic, what do you see for the future of music and entertainment?
Change is creative. Opportunities, always!!! Painful sometimes. But keep dreaming your dreams. Keep following you dreams. I received this advice early in my life, 'If you stop following your dreams, you’ll stop having them.’
I’m still following mine. And it’s the same four guys still following their dreams... Oak Ridge Boys!!!
To watch a new PBS special on Jim Halsey, click the image below.