Lynn Anderson’s arrival on the country music scene is examined by those who knew her best in this heartfelt panel, held September 30, 2017, at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, to coincide with the exhibition “Lynn Anderson: Keep Me in Mind” (September 15, 2017, through June 24, 2018).
Panelists include Lynn Anderson’s father Casey Anderson, producer-guitarist Steve Gibson, fashion designer Manuel Cuevas, bandleader-arranger Buddy Skipper, and her daughter Lisa Sutton. The program opens with a 1971 clip of Lynn Anderson singing “Rose Garden” on “The Johnny Cash Show” in 1971, at the height of the song’s popularity. The performance illustrates Anderson’s poise, elegance, and vocal ability—themes that are revisited throughout the discussion.
Casey Anderson reminisces about the family’s relocation from North Dakota to California when Lynn was three years old. He also recalls when Lynn played him “Rose Garden” for the first time. Manuel Cuevas talks about Anderson’s beauty and his incorporation of a rose motif into her stage wear. Gibson, who began touring with Anderson in 1972, remarks that she could be comfortable at Madison Square Garden, a society ball, or a rodeo. Skipper says fans always anticipated hearing “Rose Garden” at her concerts, even in later years.
As the panel continues, Casey Anderson explains that his wife, Liz Anderson, began to write country music songs because there was little country music to be found where they lived in California. Liz played one of her songs, “Ride, Ride, Ride,” for Lynn, who immediately wanted to record it. A modest hit in 1966, the single caught the ear of Lawrence Welk, who hired her to sing on his show. Staying for two years, she introduced country music to a new audience.
Sutton shares a story she heard about how her father, producer-songwriter Glenn Sutton, met her mother at a music industry convention. Sutton produced “Rose Garden” for Anderson’s new label deal with Columbia Records; she was pregnant at the time and welcomed her daughter at the same time the single became a No. 1 country hit. Sutton tells the audience about her mother’s comical acceptance speech upon winning a 1970 Best Country Vocal Performance, Female Grammy Award for “Rose Garden.” She would continue to accrue Top Ten hits on Columbia Records throughout the end of the decade.
The conversation turns to Sutton’s personality as well as Anderson’s award-winning equestrian abilities. McCall points out that Anderson’s personal background was different than many of her female country contemporaries, because she didn’t grow up in the rural South. He observes that once Anderson introduced a glamorous look into country music, others such as Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette followed. Sutton adds that her mother also brought a “countrypolitan” sound back into country music. Skipper says that Sutton could produce four songs in one session with Anderson due to the couple’s preparation.
Anderson became a regular on television during her time in the spotlight, partly because she felt at ease due to her early experiences on “The Lawrence Welk Show.” A clip is shown of her 1977 appearance on “Starsky & Hutch,” followed by one of Anderson performing “Cry” in 1982. The panel winds down with thoughts from each of the panelists about Anderson’s legacy, and a video clip of Anderson singing “Rose Garden” with Martina McBride at the Grand Ole Opry.
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