There's an old saying:
"If you want someone's attention, whisper."
Bill Anderson has been using that philosophy for more than 40 years to capture the attention of millions of country music fans around the world, en route to becoming a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and one of the most popular, most enduring entertainers of our time.
He's known as "Whispering Bill," a nickname hung on him years ago as a result of his breathy voice and his warm, soft approach to singing a country song. His credentials, however, shout his prominence: One of the most awarded songwriters in the history of country music, a million selling recording artist many times over, television game show host, network soap opera star, spokesman for a nationwide restaurant chain, and a consummate onstage performer. His back-up group, The Po' Folks Band, has long been considered one of the finest instrumental and vocal groups in the business.
Bill was born in Columbia, S.C., but spent most of his growing-up years around Atlanta, Ga. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism, having worked his way through college as a disc jockey on nearby radio stations. It was while he was still in school that he began performing and writing songs. At the age of nineteen he composed the country classic, "City Lights", and began rapidly carving his place in musical history.
He moved to Nashville, Tennessee, secured a recording contract with Decca Records, and began turning out hit after hit with songs like "Po'Folks, em, "Mama Sang A Song", "The Tips Of My Fingers," "8X10," and the unforgettable country and pop smash, "Still." His compositions were recorded by such diverse musical talents as Ray Price, Porter Wagoner, Debbie Reynolds, Ivory Joe Hunter, Kitty Wells, Faron Young, Lawrence Welk, Dean Martin, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aretha Franklin, Walter Brennanand many others.
Bill has been voted Songwriter Of The Year six times, Male Vocalist Of The Year, half of the Duet Of The Year with both Jan Howard and Mary Lou Turner, has hosted and starred in the Country Music Television Series Of The Year, seen his band voted Band Of The Year, and in 1975 was voted membership in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Ten years later, the State of Georgia honored him by choosing him as only the 7th living performer inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. In 1993 he was made a member of the Georgia Broadcasters' Hall of Fame. In 1994 South Carolina inducted him into their Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. And in 2001 he received the ultimate honor, membership in Nashville's prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame.
An entertainer in every sense of the word, Bill was the first country artist to host a network game show, starring on ABC-TV's, The Better Sex. He also appeared for three years on ABC's Daytime soap opera, One Life To Live.
For six years he hosted a country music game show on The Nashville Network called, Fandango, later an interview show called Opry Backstage, and somehow found time to be co-producer of another TNN Show called, You Can Be A Star. In addition, Bill has appeared frequently as a guest star on television's top variety and game shows, including The Tonight Show, The Today Show, Match Game, Family Feud, Hee Haw and others.
Bill Anderson's autobiography, Whisperin' Bill, was published by Longstreet Press in 1989 and relates the fascinating details of his life and lengthy career in show business. The book, which Bill personally wrote over a period of three years, made bestseller lists all across the south. Bill's second book, a humorous look at the music business titled, I Hope You're Living As High On The Hog As The Pig You Turned Out To Be,was published in 1993 and is currently in its third printing.
Bill continues to paint a broad stroke across the Nashville music scene. He has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1961 and performs there regularly. In 2000, his latest album, A Lot Of Things Different,received rave reviews. Each song on the album was written, or co-written, by Anderson. His 1998 release, Fine Wine, was produced by Steve Wariner and released on Warner Brothers' Reprise/Nashville label. Bill Anderson's Greatest Hits Volume I & II have been released on Varese-Sarabande Records along with The Best Of Bill Anderson on Curb.
Despite his hectic schedule and the demands of his multi-faceted business enterprises, Bill has made a renewed commitment to his first love songwriting. "I feel like I've come full-circle," he smiles, because songwriting is what got me to Nashville in the first place." In 1995, Billboard magazine named four Bill Anderson compositions "City Lights, Once A Day," Still", and "Mama Sang A Song" among the Top 20 Country Songs of the past 35 years. No other songwriter had as many songs listed. Anderson began 1999 with a pair of #1 hits, "Wish You Were Here," by Mark Wills and the Grammy nominated "Two Teardrops" by Steve Wariner. His song, "Too Country," recorded by Brad Paisley along with Bill, Buck Owens and George Jones, won CMA Vocal Event Of The Year honors for 2001. The following year saw Kenny Chesney soar with his version of the Anderson-Dean Dillon masterpiece, "A Lot Of Things Different", and in 2004 Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss scored big with Bill and Jon Randall's poignant "Whiskey Lullaby." In November 2002, BMI named Bill its first country songwriting Icon, placing him alongside R&B legends Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and James Brown as the only recipients of that prestigious award. His compositions can be heard on recent or forthcoming releases by Vince Gill, Lorrie Morgan, John Michael Montgomery, Sara Evans, Tracy Byrd, and others, serving notice that the first 40 years were only the beginning.