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Gleason's Favorite Sons

Gordon Stoker of the famed Jordanaires was the first musical celebrity from Gleason. The Jordanaires have been long-time members of the Grand Ole Opry; the group also traveled and sang background for Elvis Presley for fifteen years appearing on television, in movies, and on recordings.

They have also provided vocal background on many hit albums and singles for such stars as Marty Robbins, Neil Young, Tom Jones, Kenny Rogers, Don McLean, George Jones, Ringo Starr, Johnny Cash, Charley Pride, Tammy Wynette, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Dolly Parton, Ronnie Milsap, B. J. Thomas, Willie Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Conway Twitty, Connie Francis, Julie Andrews, Jim Reeves, Marie Osmond, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline (the group sang background on all her records) Ronnie McDowell, Jerry Reed, and Rick Nelson. This is pretty impressive for  a small-town boy from Gleason!

The Jordanaires have appeared in six movies with stars such as Elvis Presley, Ferlin Husky, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. They have arranged and sung all vocal parts in over thirty movies, including all of Elvis's movies, and Sissy  Spacek's Coal Miner's Daughter. They sang the background vocals for the recent movie soundtrack Sweet Dreams (Patsy Cline's life story) as well as numerous other soundtracks.

The Jordanaires are still actively recording, mostly in Nashville; but they do travel some. Recently they did a tour in Canada and appeared at the Church Street Station in Orlando, Florida. The Orlando appearance was taped and has been shown on the Nashville Network Station.

Gordon Stoker was instrumental in getting Gleason's next celebrity on the move. One weekend when Gordon was in Gleason, prompted by his brother Wayne Stoker (also a Gleason resident), he agreed to listen to Mike Snider play his banjo at  a Christmas party Wayne was having at his house. Gordon returned to Nashville bragging about him to the Grand Ole Opry Manager, Hal Durham. An invitation to appear on the Grand Ole Opry was eventually extended to Mike Snider after Mr. Durham received a large number of letters from Mike Snider's hometown "fans". In an unprecedented move, Mr. Durham sent 1500 free tickets to Gleason, and Gleason responded "Glea-fully". "We know that the people of Gleason are proud of Mike Snider and what he's accomplished, so we thought this would be a n ice Christmas present for them to have free tickets for Mike's appearance on the Opry" were Mr. Hal Durham's words.

With this, history was made once again in Gleason when on a cold snowy, January Saturday in 1984, nine chartered buses, numerous cars, trucks, and vans all left town carrying approximately 2,000 area residents to Nashville to see Mike Snider fulfill his lifelong dream to appear on the famed Grand Ole Opry.

Roy Acuff, who introduced Mike for his debut performance on the Opry, said he had brought something different to the Opry on this night. He also said that in his forty-five years on the Opry, he had never seen a young man so celebrated and loved that an entire hometown would come so far to see and hear him. Before, during, and after Mike's performance, the Tatertown folks led the crowd in giving him four standing ovations. His appearance was seen, not only by those present, but was also on five national and local television networks, with coverage in the newspapers and some magazines.

Since that time, Mike has appeared on the Nashville Network Television station numerous times, has performed concerts in South Dakota and Mississippi, as well as an overseas tour with Jim Glazer and Stella Parton. His most recent claim-to-fame is his appearance as a regular on the 1987-88 season of Hee-Haw.


The history of the Gleason community provided in Oakwood-Gleason: A Look Back provides an account of Gleason's history up through the time the book was originally published. As some 20 years have now passed since its publication, Gleason Online is providing a "History Update" feature, for each section of the book, for those wishing to add important historical information relevant to the Gleason community. Contributions can be submitted via E-mail attachment by clicking on the "Website Visitor Comments" graphic, provided above.


Gleason Musical Talent: The Post 1986 Era


Since, the late 1980's the careers of the Gordon Stoker and the Jordanaires and Mike Snider have continued to flourish with both continuing to have a major impact on the music industry. Their continued achievements and current activities can be seen by visiting their websites (Click Here: The Jordanaires; Mike Snider).


In addition, the another home grown musical talent has recently burst onto the local music scene. His name is Micah Arnold. Micah's story is provided below.


Gleason Home to Another Singing Sensation

By Sara Reid, Staff Writer, NWTNTODAY.COM

Micah Arnold

The City of Gleason has long been known as the home of Grand Old Opry star Mike Snider, but in the near future it may be able to add another name to that list. Last month, Gleason native Micah Arnold, 26, took to the stage in the West Tennessee Idol competition in Jackson and outshined over 200 contestants to take home the grand prize and the chance to move on to state competition. Initially, Arnold, who has been singing since the age of three, was hesitant to enter the competition, but with the encouragement of his parents, Jim and Donna Arnold, he decided to take the plunge. “Over 200 people were at the audition,” Arnold admitted. “First, you had to sing a capella and if you advanced past that, you’d perform to a live round onstage in front of the judges and then a radio round where people called in and voted.” Despite the fact that the competition was very much like the “American Idol” television show, Arnold admitted that the entire process did nothing to wrack his nerves. “I’m used to the stage,” he said. “I’m in a band called Leaving Sunday and we’ve played in Dresden, Paris, Jackson and McKenzie. I’ve sung in Nashville in most every place. I play guitar in the band, but lately, of course, I’ve been focusing on vocals.” Arnold hopes to take his passion much further than the competition stage. He’s hoping to make a career in the music industry. “I’d really like to go further with it,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to work on a career in the music industry for a while now.” Arnold cites his musical influences as being everything from Keith Urban to Merle Haggard to Hank Williams Jr. to Garth Brooks to, of course, his father who played music when Arnold was growing up, but he relates his own style of singing to no one. It’s uniquely his own. “I try not to sound like anyone. I try to be unique. I’ve been told that I sound like George Strait or I sound like Conway Twitty, but I don’t want to be a second-rate version of them,” he admitted. Arnold wasn’t the only Weakley Countian to sing on the West Tennessee Idol stage, however. Two other singers from Palmersville also made the finals and Arnold saw their presence as a comfort. “Emily Rook was there and Paul Jolley was there and it was very comforting,” he remarked. “I knew them even before the competition and it was great that we all had each other to talk to and cope with. It really made the competition easier. We banded together and it really felt good to see people I knew there rooting all of us on.” When Arnold won the competition and received his trophy, he knew all the years of hard work and practice had paid off and he had just taken one step closer to his dream. “It really felt good. It’s something I’ve been doing for a long time and it paid off,” he said. “I still have a long way to go as far as making a career in music, but this was a huge accomplishment. The judges were from the music industry and hearing the positive feedback from them made me feel good about myself.” “Every contestant there deserved to win,” he added. “It was not an easy win because everyone was so talented, but I’m pleased they chose me.” Source Adapted from: NWTNTODAY.COM.

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