Tennessee Ernie Ford was an American recording artist and television host who was known for singing a range of music, including country, pop and gospel. Ford started his radio career in Bristol, Tennessee, but left in 1939 to study classical music and voice at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He was a World War II veteran whose signature song became “Sixteen Tons.” From 1956 to 1961, he hosted his own show, The Ford Show, on NBC.
Ford was born on February 13, 1919 and would have celebrated his 100th birthday this winter. To celebrate, Bristol is honoring him throughout the month of February with a special display at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. Also his birthday week will be celebrated in Bristol with several events, including regular tours of his childhood home at 1223 Anderson Street, Bristol, TN.
Additional events include:
- On Sunday, February 10th, Anderson Street United Methodist Church, which Ernie and his parents attended for many years, will conduct a special service, followed by a tour of their historical archives room including their TEF collection.
- The Bristol Historical Association’s Tennessee Ernie Ford Birthplace on Anderson Street will be open for tours Sunday afternoon and perhaps other times during the week.
- At 7 p.m. on Monday, February 11, the Birthplace of Country Music Museum and the BHA will cohost an informal conversation in the museum’s Performance Theater between Ernie’s older son, Buck, and long-time Ford family friend Sid Oakley. Ford family home movies will also be screened. There will be no charge for admittance, but seats must be reserved by visiting www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org early in 2019.
- On Ernie’s actual 100th birthday, Wednesday, February 13th, The Paramount will host an afternoon of TEF music and activities culminating with the serving of birthday cake courtesy of Food City. Actual times will be published later.
- All day Wednesday, February 13th, the Tennessee Ernie Ford Commemorative Stamps will be cancelled at the Post Office on 6th Street at Shelby.
- Sometime during the birthday celebration week, Radio Bristol will broadcast an interview with Buck Ford.
- During Radio Bristol’s Farm and Fun Time on Thursday, February 14, from 7 – 9 pm, Buck Ford, in person or taped, will deliver the “Heirloom Recipe” segment based on a TEF favorite. It’s hoped that Bill and the Belles are also going to work up a couple of TEF numbers for their part in the show. Tickets can be purchased at www.birthplaceofcountrymusic.org at a later date.