Clay Cooper

Branson Terry Music Awards

by Joshua Heston

The Starlite Theatre became the perfect venue last Sunday night as Branson entertainers arrived in black limos and walked the red carpet before a lobby crowded with cheering fans.

“This is not a competition but a salute,” explains Terry Beene, creator of the Branson Terry Awards. Nominations are developed by an anonymous committee. Voting takes place the same way.

“We want to bring everybody back together,” furthers longtime show producer Chisai Childs. “We want people to have a good time. We want them to fellowship again!”

Fellowship they did.

Backstage was a flurry of last-minute scheduling changes punctuated by quick group selfies and hugs. Emotional moments were many, as were surprises. Kelli Roberts Riley, dancer with Silver Dollar City’s Cajun Connection and widow of beloved comedian Joey Riley, co-presented Comedian of the Year with last year’s winner, Terry Sanders.

Sanders presented while appearing as the late Joan Rivers.

An emotional Tamra Tinoco of The Magnificent Seven accepted Female Vocalist of the Year. Jason Pritchett, still riding the country charts with his rodeo-infused single, Good Show, recieved Male Vocalist of the Year. Statler Brothers Revisited (Roy Morris, Jamie Layton, Cody Boggs and Mike Walker) were surprised with there well-deserved win of Vocal Group of the Year.

Later that night, Billy Dean and Jim Stafford were welcomed on stage, accepting Lifetime Achievement and Twenty-Five Year Award, respectively. “The only problem with a Twenty-Five Year Award,” joked Stafford, “is that you have to wait 25 years to get one.”

Perhaps even more encouraging was the support showed by fans. Early in the evening, buses began pulling up out front, disgorging tourists ready for a night of live entertainment. Familiar faces were many as Branson neighbors and friends arrived, hugging entertainers and one another. In short order, the Starlite’s expansive seating was full nearly to capacity.

Ably emceed by veteran entertainers Mike Patrick and Jamie Haage, the three hours were fast-paced, regularly interspersed with songs by some of Branson’s best.

Without a doubt, the Branson Terry Awards grew up this year.

2015 Nominees & Winners

Chisai Childs

Nadia (of Ayo Voices of Glory) accepts Morning Show of the Year Award. Photo by Beckie Fairchild.

Morning Show of the Year: Ayo, Voices of Glory

  • The Brett’s (Dick Clark American Bandstand Theatre)
  • Red, Hot & Blue (Clay Cooper Theater)
  • A Tribute to John Denver, James Garrett (Little Opry Theatre, Branson IMAX)
  • George Jones & Friends, George Geisser (Little Opry Theatre, Branson IMAX)
  • Good Ol Boys (God & Country Theatre)
  • George Dyer (Dutton Family Theatre)
  • Always... Patsy Cline (God & Country Theatre)
  • Down Home Country (Grand Country Square)
  • AYO Voices of Glory (Hughes Brothers Theatre)

Female Vocalist of the Year: Tamra Tinoco

  • Tamra Tinoco
  • Jackie Brown
  • Kimberly Barber
  • Kari Garrison
  • Tiffany Sassanella
  • Shonna Bonds
  • Melody Hart

Bass Guitar Player of the Year: Randy McConnell

  • Randy McConnell
  • Bruce Haynes
  • Winston Blair
  • Brent Mabe
  • Marty Wilhite
  • Scott Lancaster
  • Mark Evans
  • Randy Plummer
  • Austin Wilson
  • Larry Allred
Chisai Childs

Mike Patrick accepts Show of the Year as the cast for Grand Jubilee look on. The Grand Band wowed the audience throughout the evening while Patrick and Jamie Haage, both of Grand Jubilee, were emcees. Photo by Beckie Fairchild.

Show of the Year: Grand Jubilee

  • The Haygoods
  • Shoji Tabuchi
  • Clay Cooper
  • SIX
  • Doug Gabriel
  • The Duttons
  • Billy Dean & Wild Horses
  • Grand Jubilee
  • Million Dollar Quartet
  • The Hughes Brothers

Entertainer of the Year: Clay Cooper

  • Clay Cooper
  • Doug Gabriel
  • Shoji Tabuchi
  • Billy Dean
  • Mike Walker
  • Jamie Haage
  • The Haygoods
  • Rick Thomas
  • AYO Voices of Glory
  • Jim Stafford
  • Million Dollar Quartet

October 17, 2015

Clay Cooper responds to winning Entertainer of the Year. Photo by Beckie Fairchild.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Billy Dean

Billy Dean

Billy Dean accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award. “A string of great hits does not a great show make,” he noted. “A great show is made by a great team.” Photo by Beckie Fairchild.

Open Heart Award: Chisai Childs

Chisai Childs

“Terry Beene, you’re a dead man,” joked a surprised Chisai Childs as she was called on stage to accept the Open Heart Award. Photo by Beckie Fairchild.

Humanitarian of the Year: Shoji & Dorothy Tabuchi

Pioneer Award: Ronnie Prophet

Twenty-five Year Award: Jim Stafford

Living Legend Award: Jimmy Osmond

Even More Winners & Nominees...

Chisai Childs

Many of this year’s presenters were last year’s winners. Here, 2014 Fiddle Player of the Year Wayne Massengale announces Amy Dutton as fiddle player of 2015. Photo by Beckie Fairchild.

Fiddle/Violin Player of the Year: Amy Dutton

  • Shoji Tabuchi
  • Melody Hart
  • Wade Landry
  • Amy Dutton
  • Cortlandt Ingram
  • Nathan Agdeppa
  • Bruce Hoffman
  • Christina Hughes
  • Mike Ito

Keyboard Player of the Year: David Brooks

  • Patrick Haygood
  • John Wyatt
  • Tracy Heaston
  • Jonathan Black
  • Michael W. Davis
  • Limon Clark
  • David Brooks
  • Jeff Olson

Vocal Group of the Year: Statler Bros Revisited

  • New South (Grand Country Square)
  • Pierce Arrow
  • AYO: Voices of Glory (Hughes Brothers Theatre)
  • The Haygoods (Clay Cooper Theatre)
  • Statler Brothers Revisted (God & Country Theatre)
  • The Bretts (Dick Clark American Bandstand Theatre)
  • The Osmonds
  • Sons of Britches (Little Opry Theatre)
  • Million Dollar Quartet (Welk Resort Theatre)
  • Three Redneck Tenors

Lead Player of the Year: Dino Strunk

  • Sting Ray Anthony
  • Mitch Kersey
  • Matt Hanshaw
  • Jerry Adams
  • Dino Strunk
  • Josh Carroll
  • Bobby Blackburn
  • Steve Harbour
  • David Creach

Steel Player of the Year: Greg Moody

  • George Geiser
  • Robby Springfield
  • Greg Moody
  • John Cox
  • Gene Mulvaney
  • Michael T. Hermsmeyer

Gospel Group of the Year: Presleys Quartet

  • Absolutely Country, Definitely Gospel (God & Country Theatre)
  • Pierce Arrow
  • The Bacon Family (Grand Country Square)
  • Statler Brothers Revisited (God & Country Theatre)
  • AYO: Voices of Glory (The Hughes Brothers Theatre)
  • Presleys Quartet
  • Baldknobbers
  • Leroy News’ Good News Gospel (Little Opry Theatre)
Chisai Childs

Jason Pritchett accepts Male Vocalist of the Year. Photo by Beckie Fairchild.

Male Vocalist of the Year: Jason Pritchett

  • George Dyer
  • Mike Walker
  • Doug Gabriel
  • James Garrett
  • Jason Pritchett
  • Scott Sartain
  • Jeff Brandt

Band of the Year: Eagles Tribute

  • Legends in Concert
  • Clay Cooper Theatre
  • Pierce Arrow Theatre
  • Steel Horses
  • Doug Gabriel Band
  • Baldknobbers
  • The Haygoods
  • Take It to the Limit: Eagles Tribute Band
  • The Liverpool Legends

Track Show of the Year: new Jersey Nights

  • Magnificent Seven Variety Show (Hamner Variety Theatre)
  • New Jersey Nights (King’s Castle Theatre)
  • Gordy and Debbie (Jackie B. Goode's Uptown Dinner Theatre)
  • Puttin’ on the Ritz (King’s Castle Theatre)
  • Neil Diamond Tribute (Historic Owen Theatre)
  • Susan Carmen
  • Mario Rosales (Crystal Theater / Lodge of the Ozarks)

Production Show of the Year: Jonah

  • Shoji Tabuchi Show
  • The Haygoods (Clay Cooper Theatre)
  • Hamner’s Unbelievable Variety Show
  • Jonah (Sight & Sound Theater)
  • The Acrobats of China
  • Adventures of Marco Polo (White House Theatre)
  • The Magic of Rick Thomas (Andy Williams Moon River Theatre)
  • Million Dollar Quartet (Welk Resort Theatre)
dogwood petal Hailey Westrich

Barry Williams (left) accepts Matinee Show of the Year as Hailey Westrich looks on. At right, Dino Phillips, drummer of the year. Photo by Beckie Fairchild.

Joshua Heston

Robbie Blackwood (left) and Joshua Heston prepare to announce Drummer of the Year, Dino Phillips Photo by Beckie Fairchild..

Jamie Haage

Jamie Haage sings Rhinestone Cowboy, a fitting tribute to Glen Campbell. Photo by Beckie Fairchild.

Kelli Riley & Terry Sanders Joan Rivers

Kelli Roberts Riley and Terry "Joan Rivers” Sanders provide a poignant moment as the Comedian of the Year is announced. Photo by Beckie Fairchild.

Joshua Heston

Gordy Wensel with Debbie Kaye accept Vocal Duo of the Year. Photo by Beckie Fairchild.

Branson Terry Awards Winners & Nominees

Instrumentalist of the Year: Doug Gabriel

Matinee Show of the Year: 70’s Music Celebration with Barry Williams

Comedian(s) of the Year: Hargus & Droopy

Vocal Duet of the Year: Gordy Wensel / Debbie Kaye

Drummer of the Year: Dino Phillips

Tribute Artist of the Year: Liverpool Legends


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