Appalachian entertainer and actor Randall Franks was honored at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Ky., amongst an illustrious group of Bluegrass Pioneers including several Bluegrass Hall of Fame members.
Grand Ole Opry stars the Whites, Curly Seckler, Doc Watson and David Holt were among the performers sharing their talents to honor the pioneers.
Mr. Franks was honored alongside more than 30 fellow members of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys and other pioneers such as “Doc” Tommy Scott, Fletcher Bright, Pete Kuykendall, Eddie Adcock and Bill Clifton.
Mr. Franks performed with Monroe, the legendary member of the Country Music, Rock and Roll, Nashville Songwriter’s and Bluegrass Music halls of fame as a youth playing both fiddle and bass in 1984 and 1985 becoming the first fiddler to follow Hall of Fame member Kenny Baker. He was also a member of Jim & Jesse's Virginia Boys.
While at the event, he performed for an upcoming documentary project expected for release during the Monroe Centennial Celebration in 2011.
“What a wonderful experience it was to gather with so many of my fellow Blue Grass Boys from the 1940s to the 1990s,” he said. “The impromptu performances of Mr. Monroe’s music came together so beautifully. It only goes to show the caliber of musicians he chose.
“I am deeply honored to simply be in the same room with such a distinguished group of singers and musicians,” Mr. Franks said. “Mr. Monroe honored me by investing his time and creative energies in making me a better musician and performer. Through each opportunity I enjoy in my career, his lessons in life are with me.”
Mr. Franks’s connection to Mr. Monroe is only one of the threads that sew together an amazing tapestry of his career interweaving it with the industry’s greatest performers.
Of the 33 IBMA Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame inductees, Mr. Franks served as music producer to nine; recorded with nine; appeared as a band member for three; starred with four performing behind him on his own stage show; performed as a guest star with two; produced bluegrass events featuring four; administrated musical licensing and publishing for five; directed a PBS documentary including four, provided media relations for two; interviewed and/or featured as an award-winning print media journalist and radio host the work of 24 while also writing for one.
The Ringgold resident was a founder of SEBA (SouthEastern Bluegrass Association) in 1984. He became bluegrass music's first soloist to become a crossover star in Southern gospel music yielding a top-20 selling Christian release in 1990 with "Handshakes and Smiles."
He is also uniquely one of a handful of bluegrass stars including the Dillards who shared his music in character on network television in a drama or comedy. His work also extends to the genres of country, Southern and black gospel, rock and roll and rhythm and blues.
As an actor, Mr. Franks is best known for his role as "Officer Randy Goode" from TV's "In the Heat of the Night" and he is currently part of the cast of Robert Townsend's "Musical Theater of Hope" on GMC.
He is a syndicated newspaper columnist reaching readers across the South.