In a 2015 Music Masters program hosted by the Museum’s Michael McCall, producer Garth Fundis traces his journey from a promising teen brass player and choir vocalist in Baldwin City, Kansas, to stints with rock bands from Kansas and Nebraska, then to Memphis, where he began to focus on working in the recording studio, under the tutelage of famed producer and studio owner Jack Clement and recording engineer Charlie Tallent.
Fundis, one of country music’s most successful and discerning record producers, started his production career on a high note—his first session, with Country Music Hall of Fame member Don Williams in 1978, resulted in the classic recordings “Tulsa Time,” “It Must Be Love,” and “Lay Down Beside Me.” Fundis continued to work with Williams throughout his career—collaborating on memorable hits such as “Good Ole Boys Like Me” and “I Believe in You”—but he also found time to record other highly regarded country acts, including New Grass Revival, Keith Whitley, Trisha Yearwood, and Sugarland.
Here, Fundis hails the importance of a crew of Clement associates—including producer Allen Reynolds, songwriters Dickey Lee and Bob McDill, and steel guitarist Lloyd Green—who proved essential to Fundis’s development and his musical perspective. The producer also touches on his involvement in leadership positions in the music industry, including his time as executive director of the National Recording Arts and Sciences and as president of the record label Almo Sounds. But his talk concentrates on his production work, from his close creative connection with Whitley and Yearwood to honing the wide-ranging abilities of bands New Grass Revival and Sugarland, and the challenge presented when working with groups with several strong-willed members with conflicting creative visions.
Presented in support of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibition “Trisha Yearwood: The Song Remembers When” (July 3, 2015, through January 4, 2016).
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