MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

October 7, 2013

OMHOF to tell story of famed promoter

Jim Halsey has found, molded top country talent for decades

One of the most influential leaders in country music and an Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame inductee will be featured in an exhibit to be unveiled later this month.

Jim Halsey’s Starmaker Exhibit will open Oct. 14 at the OMHOF Museum during a VIP reception preceding this year’s induction ceremony. Halsey, who has been in the entertainment industry for more than 60 years, is known as the founder of “one of the most effective and aggressive booking and management companies in the world.”

Jim Blair, OMHOF’s executive director, said Halsey introduced country music to the former Soviet Union during a tour in 1976 that garnered cultural and diplomatic recognition. The tour featured two of Halsey’s top talents, Roy Clark and the Oak Ridge Boys.

“He had a major impact in the world,” Blair said of Halsey’s talent for finding and promoting some of the biggest acts in country music. “He had the largest country music agency in the world back in the ’70s and represented most of the really large acts back in the day.”

According to a biography written as part of his OMHOF induction in 2000, Halsey demonstrated an “innate talent for leadership” at an early age. With that talent, Halsey “guided the careers of many musical stars such as fellow inductees Roy Clark, Merle Haggard and Wanda Jackson.”

Blair said Halsey’s Starmaker Exhibit is being made available to the museum through its collaboration with the Oklahoma Historical Society. That collaboration will be “instrumental to the growth of the local museum,” he said.

The exhibit will include lots of photographs, gold records, guitars and other memorabilia that Halsey gathered throughout his career. Blair said the exhibit, which will “take up a good part of the exhibit room,” is expected to be on display in Muskogee for about two months.

Halsey helped discover many of the top artists of country music. In addition to Clark and the Oak Ridge Boys, Halsey had a hand in discovering Hank Thompson, Wanda Jackson, Freddy Fender, Lee Greenwood, The Judds, Dwight Yoakam and Clint Black. He also represented a number of other country music notables, including Tammy Wynette, Reba McEntire, Rick Nelson, Ronnie Milsap, James Brown, Roy Orbison, Leon Russell, Don Williams, Mel Tillis, Merle Haggard and the Righteous Brothers.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

If you go

WHAT: Jim Halsey’s Starmaker Exhibit.

WHERE: Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, 401 S. Third St., Muskogee.

WHEN: Exhibit will be unveiled during the OMHOF VIP reception and induction ceremony for 2013 inductees, 7 p.m. Oct. 14.

TICKETS: Limited tickets available for $25 at the door for the reception and induction ceremony. Admission is free during museum hours — 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Donations are accepted.

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