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Crystal Gayle's 'When I Dream' exhibit opens at the Country Music Hall of Fame

Crystal Gayle, the little sister of country star Loretta Lynn and a country hit-maker in her own right, will be the focus of a spotlight exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum that will open May 2, 2014, and will run through Nov. 3, 2014.

Singer Crystal Gayle, who has her own hall of fame exhibit these days, performs onstage during day 2 of 2014 Stagecoach: California's Country Music Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 26, 2014, in Indio, Calif..
Photo by Frazer Harrison

The "Crystal Gayle: When I Dream" exhibit, which will be devoted to the iconic crossover star, will feature fashion, awards, letters, family photos and more from her groundbreaking career. And to help get things kicked off in star style, come Saturday, May 3, Gayle will participate in a special program, "Concert and Conversation: Crystal Gayle" beginning at 2:30 p.m. in the museum’s Ford Theater.

The presentation featuring Gayle will be included with museum admission and free to museum members. Curatorial Director Mick Buck will serve as host of the event, which will feature an the interview and performance that will allow Gayle to discuss her life and career and perform songs from her extensive repertoire.

Seating for the program is limited, and program passes are required for admittance. The program will stream live on the museum’s website. For complete admission and streaming information, visit the museum's calendar site online.

According to a May 1 email from hall of fame reps, "Crystal Gayle: When I Dream" recounts Gayle’s unique rise to stardom. She began as a young dreamer emboldened, but was nearly pigeon-holed,by the pioneering success of her older sister, the aforementioned living legend, Loretta Lynn. Determined to make her own mark, Gayle grew into a superb vocalist whose signature glamour and pop-infused hits charmed the entire country.

The youngest of eight children, Gayle--who is featured on newcomer Sherry Lynn's new album--was born Brenda Gail Webb on Jan. 9, 1951, in Paintsville, Ky. Not long thereafter, as the coal mines closed, her family left Appalachia to find work and moved to Wabash, Ind., northeast of Indianapolis.

As a child watching her older sister’s success, Gayle harbored her own musical aspirations. While still in high school, she performed regionally and sampled life on the road with Lynn, joining her onstage for a couple of songs. Before graduating, Gayle signed her first contract with Decca Records, Lynn’s recording home, and was asked to change her name because one of her musical heroes, Brenda Lee, was a mainstay on the label. As the story goes, her adopted stage name, “Crystal,” was suggested by Lynn as the two drove by a Krystal hamburger franchise.

In 1974, Gayle, now signed to United Artists Records, began to work with producer Allen Reynolds, a great song man whose musical instincts and mentoring perfectly complemented Gayle’s developing vision and smooth alto. Later that year she scored her first top-10 single with “Wrong Road Again.” Her first No. 1, “I’ll Get Over You,” followed two years later, along with another chart-topper, “You Never Miss A Real Good Thing (Till He Says Goodbye).” In 1977, she became a household name when “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” perched atop the country charts for four weeks and climbed the pop charts in America and around the world.

Gayle enjoyed 15 additional Billboard No. 1s between 1978 and 1987, including “Talking in Your Sleep” and “It’s Like We Never Said Goodbye.” In 1978, her album titled "We Must Believe in Magic" was certified platinum, making her country music’s first female artist to sell a million units. She also had success singing duets, including chart-topping hits with Eddie Rabbitt (“You and I”) and Gary Morris (“Makin’ Up for Lost Time”). She won back-to-back female vocalist honors from the Academy of Country Music in 1976 and 1977 and from the Country Music Association in 1977 and 1978. Later, she moved to different record labels, scoring hits at Columbia, Elektra and Warner Bros.

For the last 20 years, Gayle has gained acclaim for compelling specialty recordings, including albums of gospel and children’s music, a tribute to Hoagy Carmichael, a collection of pop standards, and concert recordings—all featuring her effortlessly smooth vocals.

The following are among the artifacts on display in "Crystal Gayle: When I Dream":

  • Hand-stitched valentine Gayle made in the third grade for her mother, Clara
  • Gayle’s custom white microphone, with her name engraved in gold
  • Red parlor guitar, custom built for Gayle by luthier Danny Ferrington in 1980
  • Photos of a teen Gayle and her sisters Loretta Lynn and Peggy Sue that hung on their mother’s living room wall
  • LP cover for the soundtrack album to the 1982 film "One from the Heart," directed by Francis Ford Coppola, featuring Gayle and Tom Waits. The album featured Gayle performing solo or as a duet partner with Waits, who wrote the songs.
  • Flight suit and boots worn by Gayle on her F-16 flight in 1984
  • 1977 Grammy for Best Female Country Performance, for “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”
  • 1976 ACM Female Vocalist of the Year trophy
  • Marble and crystal Indiana Living Legend award, presented to Gayle in 2005
  • Mattel’s Crystal “Eagle” Gayle Air Force Barbie doll, which commemorated both her 1984 flight aboard an F-16 fighter and the 50h anniversary of the U.S. Air Force

Spotlight exhibits supplement themes or aspects of the museum’s core exhibition, "Sing Me Back Home: A Journey Through Country Music." These short-term, informal displays either provide a closer look at a particular person, group or aspect of country music, or spotlight recently donated items or special anniversaries. Rotated often, spotlight exhibits also offer a glimpse into the museum’s unique collection, which includes recorded discs, historical photographs, films and videotapes and thousands of posters, books, songbooks, periodicals and sheet music, as well as personal artifacts such as performers’ instruments, costumes and accessories; and more.

Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The museum’s mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture.

For more information about the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, please visit or call 615-416-2001. To learn more about Gayle, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.

  • Video bonus: To see Gayle perform one of her favorite hits, "Ready for the Times to Get Better," simply eye the clip embedded with this post.
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