On Tuesday evening (Aug. 22), Patty Loveless celebrated her new Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibit Patty Loveless: No Trouble With the Truth. The exhibit runs from Wednesday through October 2024 and coincides with the recent announcement that Loveless is among the latest additions to the Country Music Hall of Fame, alongside Tanya Tucker and songwriter Bob McDill.
Speaking to Billboard from her home in Georgia prior to the event, Loveless said of her Hall of Fame invitation, “I have to be honest, I didn’t see that coming. I was on a phone call and I thought they were trying to set up a date to pick up items here at my home, and during that call they told me I was going to be inducted. I didn’t even know how to react. I got a choke in my voice.”
That voice, all Kentucky holler grit and the kind of Southern drawl that easily wraps around the full spectrum of emotions, has made her one of country music’s most skilled vocalists, yet one that is always in service to the song.
She earned her first No. 1 Hot Country Songs chart hit in 1989 with “Timber I’m Falling in Love,” and followed with four more No. 1s on that chart (and 44 total entries overall), including “Blame It on Your Heart” and “You Can Feel Bad.” Along the way, she’s earned two Grammys and five CMA Awards, including female vocalist of the year in 1996. In 2001, she returned to her musical roots with the release of Mountain Soul, which proved to be a critically favored project; its successor, 2009’s Mountain Soul II, won a Grammy for best bluegrass album and spent six weeks atop the Bluegrass Albums chart.
The Pikeville, Kentucky, native, born Patricia Lee Ramey, began performing and writing songs by age 11, and soon began performing with her brother Roger as The Singing Swinging Rameys. Another familial duo, the Wilburn Brothers, soon lent their support, and by age 15, Loveless was performing with them on the weekends and joined them on tour after she graduated high school. Her brother Roger convinced her to record in Nashville, funding a session for his sister in 1985; that session would lead to Loveless signing with MCA Nashville that same year. Roger also served as Loveless’ manager for several years early in her career. She issued her self-titled debut project in 1987.
For Loveless, receiving the news of her upcoming induction ceremony as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame was also bittersweet, given her musical origins.
“My first thought was of my brother Roger, because we lost him in June 2022, so it was just overwhelming to me,” Loveless said. “And I was going through a lot of emotions because [Loveless’ husband, legendary producer Emory Gordy Jr.] had lost his youngest daughter in June 2022. So I had been on this emotional ride and it meant a lot to have that kind of wonderful news.”
Loveless added that she is not working on new music at the moment, though she could at some point to reprise work she previously began in 2017, working with Miranda Lambert.
“Miranda and I began working together, writing songs for my album and working with [singer-songwriter-session player] Jedd Hughes. But I had so much going on and then COVID happened. After the CMAs this last year, she was here in Atlanta [at ATLive] with Chris and Morgane Stapleton and Dwight Yoakam but I couldn’t make it out to the show. But she texted me and said, ‘Hey, I’m gonna have some time if you still wanna do that record.’ That means a lot to me, that they still believe and their hearts and doors are open for that. And who knows, when I feel that things have slowed down a bit for me, maybe I’ll pick back up with them where I left off.”
As for the career-spanning exhibit, Loveless hopes fans take away from the exhibit the sense of teamwork that has built her Hall of Fame-worthy career.
“It takes so many people to support and encourage you,” Loveless said. ‘So many people have supported me — my brother Roger, the Wilburn Brothers, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, they all gave me support.”
Below, Loveless tells Billboard about five items that highlight her new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
1968 Epiphone FT-30 Caballero Acoustic Guitar
Loveless played this guitar when she performed with her brother Roger Ramey as part of The Singing Swinging Rameys in the 1970s.
“Around 1969, we moved to just outside of Louisville [Kentucky],” Loveless recalls. “I was always, even at five or six years old, singing songs I heard on the radio or sometimes I would try to make up my own songs. Daddy used to hear me singing and when we did move to Louisville, I think he saw potential there. He sent us to take guitar lessons and the teacher told my dad, ‘She has the ear and she can hear the notes.’ I started taking lessons and Daddy decided to buy me my own guitar and that was that Epiphone guitar. That guitar was one thing I kept with me from day one. When I decided to leave North Carolina, I put my clothes and that guitar and a few other items in my car and came back to Nashville. That guitar was always like a friend to me, saying, ‘You better take me along.’”
Grand Ole Opry Induction Jacket and Floral Print Dress
The exhibit also highlights the jacket and floral print dress, accented with rhinestones and beads, that Loveless wore on June 11, 1988, the evening Porter Wagoner inducted her into the cast of the Grand Ole Opry.
“I met [stylist] Sheri McCoy when I was opening some shows for Reba McEntire around like 1987,” Loveless says. “Sheri and Ann Waters dressed so many artists—Reba, Kathy Mattea, Trisha Yearwood, Pam Tillis. They picked up this dress in a little boutique and then they had the jacket made to go over the dress. I loved it because I felt like it represented the style of music I was doing and I felt like it represented what the Opry was about.”
USO Tour Jacket
In 1988, alongside Randy Travis, Loveless did a USO tour that visited United States military bases in Alaska, Japan and South Korea. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibit includes a monogrammed USO jacket Loveless wore during the tour.
“That was a major experience for me to be able to see how it really works over there in the military,” Loveless says of the USO Tour. “I remember our trip started in Alaska and I was getting ready for shows in one of those big hangers, which was so cold. It was rough, but I wasn’t going to complain, of course. I remember it was ‘Bags at four [in the morning], bodies at six,’” she said with a laugh, “and off we went. We spent the whole day visiting bases and then we’d have a show at night, and sometimes wouldn’t get to sleep until 2 in the morning and had to be up at four. I got a taste of what it was like to be on call and we did a week in Alaska, a week in Japan and a week in South Korea. That jacket was one of those things I always kept, because that experience was one I never want to forget.”
“I’m That Kind of Girl” Music Video Dress
The exhibit also includes the black velvet dress, with floral pleats and velvet sleeves, that Loveless wore in the music video for her 1991 song “I’m That Kind of Girl”—but Loveless says there is more to the story than the video.
“There was a cape that went around that dress, and that cape–and that whole dress–is the one I wore when I performed ‘When I Call Your Name’ with Vince Gill at the CMAs in like 1990 or 1991,” Loveless recalls. “My clothing that I wore on awards shows and things, I would incorporate them into videos. Back then, I was always focusing on the road, the band. I focused on where the money needed to go and that was more important to me, so I thought, ‘I’ll make use of that [dress] and something else.’”
A Farewell to George Jones
On May 2, 2013, the country music community gathered at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee, to pay its final respects to country music legend George Jones. One of the service’s emotional zeniths came when Loveless and Vince Gill performed Gill’s “Go Rest High on That Mountain.” Loveless’ Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibit includes the black Givenchy jacket and pants that Loveless wore during the performance. As with the black velvet dress from her “I’m That Kind of Girl” video, this wasn’t the first time Loveless had worn the Givenchy set.
“I chose to wear that outfit to the Grammys when I was up for a country album Grammy for The Trouble With the Truth [in 1996]. I didn’t win, but that was the outfit I wore when the awards were given out before the televised part of the show. I kept that outfit, so when the ‘Go Rest High’ performance happened I thought, ‘I can still fit into this. This is probably the right outfit to wear.’ I wanted to put this outfit into the exhibit because so many people saw that performance and it seemed to touch so many people.”
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