Kent Finlay To Be Honored At The Country Music Hall of Fame

Kent Finlay To Be Honored At The Country Music Hall of Fame

Kent Finlay

Kent Finlay, the iconic singer-songwriter and song finder as well as the owner of San Marcos’ legendary venue Cheatham Street Warehouse, will be honored in Spring 2018 in an exhibit in Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame. Finlay’s daughter Jenni Finlay and Brian T. Atkinson, authors of the recently released Kent Finlay, Dreamer: The Musical Legacy Behind Cheatham Street Warehouse (Texas A&M University Press, 2016), delivered several personal items and venue memorabilia to the museum yesterday for the forthcoming exhibit.

“My siblings Sterling and HalleyAnna and I are so proud and honored we can hardly stand it,” Jenni Finlay says. “Dad would have said, ‘I always knew I could get into the old Hall of Shame motel, but this is something else!”

“Kent Finlay was crucial to the development of the modern singer-songwriter scene in Texas and beyond,” notes Peter Cooper, Country Music Hall of Fame curator. “He was a beacon of soulful creativity and our museum is profoundly grateful for the opportunity to help tell his amazing story.”

The exhibit is set to include a treasure trove of Kent Finlay memorabilia including handwritten lyrics to his high watermark “The Songwriter,” his rare early 1950s-era Gibson B-25 guitar, a prized straw high-top hat made by Texas Hatters’ Manny Gammage (hatter for President Lyndon B. Johnson), custom-made Jones suede-top boots and significant memorabilia from Cheatham Street Warehouse.

Finlay, who passed away last year on Texas Independence Day at the age of 77, gained fame by developing aspiring artists for more than four decades. You know the names: George Strait. Stevie Ray Vaughan. Todd Snider. James McMurtry. Eric Johnson. Randy Rogers. The list goes on forever. Each songwriter is an unmatched talent with one common thread: Finlay launched their careers from the stage at his Cheatham Street. Finlay simply was the most respected lyrical editor and talent scouter in the Lone Star State and a singular songwriter himself.

“[Kent’s] part of Texas music history is huge,” says country superstar George Strait in the book Kent Finlay, Dreamer’s foreword. “He and his great little honky tonk gave me and a whole host of others a place to learn our craft and to learn how to sing play music on stage. Thank you, my friend. You are The Man.”

“Songwriter. Mentor. Curator. Teacher. Historian,” longtime acolyte Owen Temple says. “Kent Finlay has helped create the best of what Texas music has been and is.” “Kent’s impact on Texas music — all music, really — is undeniable,” Atkinson says. “He nurtured a community purely devoted to the art and craft of songwriting and the results speak for themselves. Like Ray Wylie Hubbard says in the book, Kent was a guru, a Yoda.”

Indeed, Finlay made no bones. His beloved Cheatham Street Warehouse has always existed for creation. Songs begin on Cheatham’s stage. They grow. Breathe. Live. Earn more miles. Finally, they mature into shape. Finlay’s songwriters night, an open mike for original songs he hosted for nearly every Wednesday night for more than forty years, developed talent with stunning frequency.


Rita Ballou

August 19th, 2016

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