The Country Music Hall of Fame opened a special exhibit honoring Crystal Gayle over the weekend. Crystal Gayle: When I Dream will feature fashion, awards, letters, family photos and more from her career.

Crystal was there Saturday to participate in a special program, Concert and Conversation: Crystal Gayle.  Hosted by Curatorial Director Mick Buck, the interview and performance allowed Crystal Gayle to discuss her life and career and perform songs from her extensive repertoire.

Crystal Gayle: When I Dream recounts Gayle’s unique rise to stardom. She began as a young dreamer emboldened, but nearly pigeon-holed, by the pioneering success of her older sister Loretta Lynn. Determined to make her own mark, Gayle grew into a superb vocalist whose signature glamor and pop-infused hits charmed the entire country.

The youngest of eight children, Gayle was born Brenda Gail Webb on January 9, 1951, in Paintsville, Kentucky. Not long thereafter, as the coal mines closed, her family left Appalachia to find work and moved to Wabash, Indiana, northeast of Indianapolis.

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.

But, her first tune was "I've Cried the Blue Right Out of My Eyes". A 1970 release, 19 year old Crystal Gayle looked just like this (below) when I first met her at a Loretta Lynn-Conway Twitty show in Louisville.Show promoter Carleton Haney introduced me to her. I thought at the time this little cutie would be a hit. And I really liked her first single. In fact, I listen to it often.

Decca Records

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.
Among the artifacts on display in Crystal Gayle: When I Dream are:

  • 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 Danny Ferrington in 1980
  • Photos of teenaged 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 fiftieth anniversary of the U.S. Air Force

The exhibition will run through November 3, 2014.