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Oral History Spotlight: Tony Brown

By Elizabeth Dale

Earlier this year, GRAMMY® Award-winning producer, Tony Brown, was awarded the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. The award recognizes his “massive contribution to American music over several decades.”

Brown’s 50-year career as a pillar of country music includes over 100 number one songs and 100 million albums sold. Early career highlights for Brown include his work as the pianist for Elvis Presley and as a studio musician with Roseanna Cash and Emmylou Harris. The record producer and pianist is the co-founder of Universal South Records and is the former president of MCA Records Nashville. He is responsible for producing hits for artists including Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, and George Strait, among others. According to his website, he has been credited with founding the American country movement with the signing, production, and genre-blending of artists like Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Joe Ely, Shooter Jennings, Lyle Lovett, Alliston Moorer, The Mavericks, Todd Snider, Kelly Willis, Trisha Yearwood, and more.

Credits beyond the recent induction into North Carolina’s Music Hall of Fame consist of four GRAMMY Awards, seven Academy of Country Music awards, multiple CMA awards, and the publication of Elvis, Strait, to Jesus. During the induction ceremony for his Lifetime Achievement Award, Brown was honored alongside Roberta Flack, with additional inductees including Jermaine Dupri, Donald Lawrence, Michael Mauldin, the late Robert Moog, Tony Rice, and Charles Whitfield. The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame reflected on Brown’s impact on the industry, saying, “Tony Brown’s name has become synonymous with great recordings. His work transcends genres. His lifetime achievements will forever be recognized throughout the industry!”

The award ceremony occurred at the historic Gem Theatre in Kannapolis, North Carolina, and included inductions for the 2020 class, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information on Tony Brown and the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, please visit and


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