SONG OF HOPE MUSEUM honors Branson music history

Mel’s Grandson Marshall Howden has officially launched the Song of Hope Museum in Branson, Mo. The museum honors the legacy of the music artists of Branson, past and present who helped place Branson on the map as the Live Music Capital of the World for many years. Naturally, Marshall donated many of his personal artifacts from his grandfather and other entertainers he met growing up alongside Mel on stage.

The Branson Boom exhibition also showcases some rather large artifacts such as the famous Jim Stafford guitar neon sign that shone on the Hwy 76 strip for many years as well.  Also, in the collection is a replica of the Mel Tillis Theater located at 2527 State Hwy 248.  The mega theater was indeed one of Branson’s finest venues.

A Tillis family spokesman has shared Marshall’s future as the archivist of Mel’s legacy is bright.  He continues to find ways to remember his grandfather in unique and wonderful ways. 

 May 12th, 2023

Centennial Conversations!

Mel and Branson - A Storied History!


Branson, Mo. - February 21, 2023 


Branson 's Centennial Museum welcomed several of Mel's family and backup singers, Stutterettes, Tammy and Tonya to celebrate Mel with stories from his celebrated career.  Some of the highlights included Grandson Marshall Howden, now a Branson city Alderman sharing special memories with his grandfather performing with him from a very early age. Tammy and Tonya recalled the first meeting with Mel years before as small girls and how later they reminded him of that first meeting. "Mel always treated us like daughters and protected us. We will never forget that." 

Daughters Connie and Cindy also shared a bevy of stories and special events that living in Branson provided for the Tillis family in general. Connie and Mel once got slimed at Silver Dollar City during Nickelodean Days.  Cindy recalled a memory from a New Years show:  it seems Mel was kicking off Auld Lang Syne too early. Cindy motioned to Mel from the side stage to stretch his monologue so the planned balloons and disco ball wouldn't drop too early.  Mel came off the stage and stated emphatically..."Cindar, I know how to S-S-S-stretch the show."  

Pam Tillis and Sonny Tillis weren't able to join due to performing on the road carrying on Mel's legacy. 

The museum is showcasing unique items including awards and wardrobe from various artists who appeared in Branson at one time or another over the years. The Tillis family will be donating more items in honor of Mel specifically regarding Mel's many years there - 12 as a theater owner, and many years before as a traveling artist. Thank you Branson for honoring him!  

 April 06th, 2023

Mel's 90th Birthday Remembered


Friends and Family, 

Mel's 90th birthday was celebrated in grand style as his grandson, Marshall Howden pulled together a cast of Branson's best loved entertainers to celebrate Mel and the Statesiders.  The event featured some of Mel's greatest hits performed by a bevy of talented entertainers, many uniquely connected to Mel in some way. Mel Tillis Jr. kicked off the evening with a rendition of two of Mel's biggest hits.  Stories and songs carried us along as we remembered Mel.  A special moment included a memoriam video for those who have passed from the Statesider Band. Marshall kicked off the event by introducing the band, led by long time band leader Jim Garstang. Backing him up on the fiddle was another Statesider Mark Pearman. The fabulous and lovely Stutterettes Tammy Carter and Tonya Wainscott backed up the guest artists and later shared memorable moments with Mel. Read more about the evening! 

As with the rest of the world, the last 5 years have been full stop crazy...but we are managing to gather collectively and consider how Dad's legacy can best be served. We are working on some exciting events here in Nashville, Branson and Florida. Watch for details! 

To that end, we are working on a new website, new YouTube Channel in conjunction with our legacy team, forming now! Follow us on FACEBOOK under Mel Tillis Music and Legacy. 

Thanks for your patience as we rollout a new look with new features and updates for Mel Tillis friends, family and fans! 



 August 18th, 2022
A Word From Daughter Carrie on Dad's Birthday

A Word From Daughter Carrie on Dad's Birthday

Thinking about Dad on his birthday in a memory that continues to have a big impact on me.....
I think I was about 9 and we were on vacation which was unusual. Most trips revolved around a show. But, this time I remember walking out from a very nice hotel - I’m thinking in West Palm Beach. Of course, as a child everything seems fancy and large scale. But back to the story - we were walking out of a large lush garden between two pillars and there were the most beautiful leaves and colorful flowers I have ever seen.
Suddenly, my dad looked up, and together, taking his cue, we spotted the bird in a canopy. Not just an ordinary bird. This is where the shape and colors warrant the word “exotic.” Indeed it was. My dad looked over and spotted a young man pulling errant weeds and debris in the landscaping and asked (Stutter) “young man....(stutter) what kind of bird is that?” pointing to the magnificent creature. The young man, somewhat startled, surprised to be spoken to and without seeming to care said....”I dunno know.” He answered with a half embarrassed smile and shrug of the shoulder. I’m not sure he even said “I don’t know” because we were already moving away with an unsatisfied grunt from my Dad that is - until we weren’t.
Abruptly, we did an about face almost as soon as we moved forward. My dad’s brow was furrowed with disgust although his voice not as much. But it was adamant and a bit incredulous as he spoke .....”I believe if I worked here everyday and saw that amazing bird I would want to know what kind it is. I believe I’d find out.”
We turned and walked away but I could tell it was still on my Dad’s mind for some time. Today someone might insert a mic drop here but this wasn’t about attitude. Not at all. I still feel the weight of that moment and what my dad felt and why he felt it. It was about observation. It was about what you value. It was about taking pride in things. It was about care. It was about rising above. It was about expansion. This lesson - this gift is not lost on me.
So grateful my dad taught me many lessons, this in particular. Happy Birthday to my Dad. I love and miss him greatly.
We all do. So very much. Carrie April

 August 08th, 2020
Linda Ronstadt's Version of Mental Revenge

Linda Ronstadt's Version of Mental Revenge

July 15, 2020 - the unique stylist Linda Ronstadt, born this day in 1946, found a classic Mel Tillis penned song, Mental Revenge, to wrap her vocal chords around and make it all her own.  Popconorg called her 1970 album SILK PURSE, a remarkably traditional album.  So in some sense, you could say she found a traditional country - love gone wrong - ballad to spice up in her own way.  Popconorg goes on to say about the lyrics of Mental Revenge in a recent instagram post, "the original is a very funny, cruel list of ways a narrator wants a lover to be destroyed after a relationship is over."  

Not to overlook another female version of this great song - daughter Pam covered it as well on her tribute album to It's All Relative, Tillis sings Tillis.   

The latest version was covered by the Malpass Brothers in 2011.Whichever version you prefer, and there are many others....Mental Revenge highlights the talent of Mel Tillis, the songwriter. 

 July 15th, 2020

Top Mel Tillis Songs of All Time.....



May 18, 2020


Wide Open Country recently named what they believe to be the TOP MEL TILLIS PENNED SONGS of all time. Though fans may disagree, this is a very good list to start.

 May 18th, 2020
Remembering Mel Today...One Year Passed, Pam Shares....

Remembering Mel Today...One Year Passed, Pam Shares....

Today, November 19, 2018 marks a year since our Dad passed. 6 children, 6 grandchildren, one grandbaby. One living sister and many, many cousins, One former partner, and ex-wife and various old loves…….. band mates, the road family... including many admiring former Statesiders, so very many friends, life long friends and revelers, countless fans, deeply appreciative fans all feel the sting today and remember him in their own, deeply personal way………

There are fishing stories, nd other tall tales, some true, some embellished over the years, but all hilarious. A trail of jukebox classics, bar bands still playing Heart Over Mind, and I Ain’t Never, a million miles of concerts that people are still talking about, autographs signed, kisses for old ladies, kindnesses shown. Awards and accolades………there is all that. There is also a bus that sits not running, a guitar that goes un-played, his voice not singing here and a good yarn being spun that is not in this world anymore and yet some part of him lives with us………..

We feel his presence on the farm, on the dock, in the kitchen……I feel it out on the road, in the many venues we toured together...and others feel his presence too with them, in their own way.

For his children....I know Sonny and Carrie feel it when they sing the old songs. Sonny’s delivery eerily conjuring him up with his passed down mannerism’s, carrying on singing his music. Hannah looks at old photos and gifts and a sweet tatoo and remembers. Cindy lovingly repaints his room a bright blue, hangs his pictures and admires the view he also admired....a hundred geese on a Tennessee farm, and another big fish jumping in the distance. Connie cries and looks at the grandbaby that carries some wonderful spark of that keen intelligence that was behind the comic. He would be so proud..."awe, bless his heart", Daddy would surely say.

How the others process it, I do not know, but I know we all marvel that it all happened maybe with some of the same awe that he expressed so many times, that he was so blessed and was destined for the path he traveled. He was not perfect. He was not one dimensional. As complicated and self-contradictory as anyone. But, his good traits far outweighed the bad. Sometimes the best gift was just time spent sitting, talking, laughing and remembering and so today Dad in honor of you ... We remember. We miss you, and love carries us through. - Pam


Picture credit

 November 19th, 2018
Sawmill ...a November Classic Hit for Mel

Sawmill ...a November Classic Hit for Mel

Mel's hit, Sawmill,  peaked at Number 2 on the Billboard Country Charts, November 10, 1973. Written by Mel and Horace Whatley in 1959 and first released that year by Mel and Bill Phillips, the song depicts the life of a working man, working to fulfill the monetary needs of his woman. It was later recorded by Mel's boss at the time, Webb Pierce and again by Faron Young.  A highly popular version was also performed by the Grateful Dead in the 1970's as well. Mel portrayed the haggard rough look of a timber worker perfectly on his album cover.  



 November 08th, 2018
Remembering Mel on his Birthday August 8th

Remembering Mel on his Birthday August 8th

Remembering Mel on his birthday, August 8.....we love you, and miss you dearly. Your music, love and laughter live on. 


 August 08th, 2018
I Believe In You

I Believe In You


July chart toppers for Mel include I BELIEVE IN YOU...a crowd favorite for fans of Mel Tillis, especially the women.   It peaked at #1 on the Billbaord Country Charts, July 8, 1978 and stayed on the charts for 14 weeks.

Earlier, it peaked at #44 also on the Adult Contemporary chart,  July 1, 1978 and was written by Gene Dunlap, and Buddy Cannon, a former Mel Tillis Statesider band member, and eventual country hit producer.  Thanks Buddy and Gene....a beautiful song and perfect for Mel. 



 July 05th, 2018

May Chart Toppers


Thinking back .....two of Mel's biggest hits were released in the month of MayLife Turned Her That Way - written by Harlan Howard, performed by Mel, peaked at #11, May 13, 1967.  Ricky Van Shelton later released it as well.

Mel's own, Mental Revenge, was first released in 1966 and published by Cedarwood Music which he would eventually purchase.  Many other notable artists recorded it as well, including Waylon Jennings, Gram Parsons with Flying Burritos, Barbara Mandrell, Johnny Darrell, Linda Ronstadt, and most recently, Jamey Johnson - a protege of Mel's.  Mental Revenge peaked at 15th on the Billboard charts May 1, 1976. Mel's daughter, Pam Tillis,  released it on her It's All Relative, a tribute album to her Dad. 


 May 18th, 2018

Heart Over Mind - Kyle Young Remembers Mel Tillis

Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame shared this touching and insightful tribute on January 31, 2018. 


"Stuttering is when rhythm is interrupted by repetition. It’s a kind of habit, and it’s tough to break.


Stuttering is when a pause exists between what we want to say or do, and what we are actually saying or doing.


So the real deal is that we all stutter. Mel stuttered in the saying, while most of us stutter in the doing. 


Most of our stutters are permanent: We never fill the gap between what we ought to do and what we really do… the gap between who we are and who we ought to be.


Fortunately for everyone in this hallowed hall and for millions outside of these walls, Mel Tillis didn’t have that kind of stutter. It just took Mel a while to get his words out. 


In his deeds, where many of us lumber, Mel was swift and clear and strong. He was the man he meant to be.


Mel grew up in Florida, frustrated by his speech impediment, afraid of his hard-drinking father, and transfixed by the sounds that emerged from his family’s battery-powered radio each Saturday night, when the Grand Ole Opry came on. 


He’d listen to Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, and Eddy Arnold, and he’d run outside to a hand pump during commercials, fill a tin cup full of water, and dab that water on his eyes to keep from falling asleep before the show ended.


Soon, Mel came to know what he wanted to say and do. He wasn’t great at saying it, and so he concentrated on the doing. He came to Nashville in the summer of 1956 and soon worked his way into the world of Acuff and Monroe and Arnold. 


Communication had always been tough for him in conversation, and so he learned to communicate in melody and rhyme. Life had been tough for him, but, rather than retire his ambitions, he aspired to grand things. He wrote with plain-spoken eloquence about his experiences: “Oh, Lord, I’m tired… tired of living this-a-way.”


When Mel was tired of living one way, he found another way. He created another way. He was so smart and so true that his creations resonated with all of us.


A child of labor, he became a man of business.

A stuttering boy, he became a man of clarity and communication.


Mel Tillis bridged the gap between what he ought to do and what he really did.


Mel Tillis showed us how to connect who we are with who we ought to be.


He was smart as a whip, and funny as hell. He was epic and beloved and important, and he wrote and recorded some of American music’s greatest songs.


He stuttered in the saying, but not in the doing. 


He died as a great and accomplished man. He lives as an example of what we might be if we somehow ditch our repetition and find our rhythm.


As a wise man put it, Heart Over Mind. " 



 February 20th, 2018
Gary Church - Rest In Peace

Gary Church - Rest In Peace

Gary Church former member of the Statesider band passed away February 19, 2018 from injuries sustained in a car wreck.

Gary was an accomplished musician playing trumpet and trombone for Mel for several years along with Merle Haggard, previously.  Gary is remembered for his wit and loving spirit. If he was your knew it.  He was loyal, caring  and loving.

Thank you Gary for great memories, laughter and music - always music. The Tillis family send peace and prayers to Eddie, and longtime partner - Cheryl Thurston.  Return to the music and it will help with the tears.  




 February 20th, 2018

January 31st Memorial Planned - Celebration of Mel's Life and Music To Be Held


Nashville, Tn - December 30, 2017.   A celebration of Mel's life and music is planned for Wednesday, January 31st at the Ryman Auditorium from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm.  

The memorial will be both a time of spiritual reflection on his life, with special speakers on hand and a time to celebrate his music.  

At this time, artists include Alison Krauss, Brenda Lee, Pam Tillis, Sonny Tillis, Carrie Tillis, Collin Raye, Lorrie Morgan, Ricky Skaggs, Ray Stevens, the Gatlins, Daryle Singletary, Jamey Johnson, Kenyon Lockry, Splinter Middleton, the Stutterettes - Tammy Carter, and Tonya Wainscott, various members of Mel's fabulous Statesider band led by Danny Parks. Special speakers included host Ralph Emery and Kevin Shorey.  

Details will be forthcoming. Thank you. 


 December 30th, 2017

To Mel's Fans and Friends - A special thank you

A statement from Mel's family on his passing - 


As many of you know, our father passed November 19, 2017.  He had suffered from a prolonged illness over the last 22 months. Though he was not able to return to the road, to the music he loved and the path God carved for him - your love and support didn't go unnoticed by him, or his family. We know he was grateful for the cards, calls and visits.

Our father cared deeply for many causes but two were particularlly dear to him, the Stuttering Foundation and the Shriners Hospital for Children Should you wish to honor him with a gift to either, he would surely be happy. The Stuttering Foundation wrote a  particularly remarkable post on his life, it's worth reading as well. 

In the coming months, we will be sharing more on his website of his legacy - in music and life. 

Thank you for your kind words and endearing memories of our father. They have carried us through this difficult time.  


 December 20th, 2017

A Special Honor

Our Time has chosen to honor Mel Tillis at their 2013 Gala on April 22nd in New York City. Our Time is dedicated to helping kids who stutter with the use of the arts.

 January 30th, 2013
President Obama awards Mel Tillis National Medal of Art

President Obama awards Mel Tillis National Medal of Art

Tillis, Al Pacino, Will Barnett, Rita Dove, Emily Rauth Pulitzer, Martin Puryear, Andre Watts and the United Service Organization, Honored by President at White House

Nashville, Tenn. (February 13, 2012) ñ This afternoon in Washington D.C., country music icon Mel Tillis was awarded the National Medal of Art by President Barack Obama.

Tillis, along with actor Al Pacino, artist Will Barnett, author Rita Dove, curator, collector and arts patron Emily Rauth Pulitzer, sculptor Martin Puryear, pianist AndrÈ Watts (not in attendance) and the United Service Organization were presented with medals as the 2011 recipients.

From the East Room of the White House, President Obama, alongside First Lady Michelle Obama, presented the Country Music Hall of Famer with the prestigious medal. Tillis proudly accepted grinning ear-to-ear.

ìI've had a blessed career, and that has been acknowledged in many ways over the years,î says Tillis. ìI was pleasantly surprised when I got the call because I didn't know there were any more awards left to win. I'm very thankful and what an honor!"

The National Medal of Arts is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States Government. The National Medal of Arts is awarded by the President of the United States to individuals or groups who "...are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, sand availability of the arts in the United States. Past recipients include B.B. King, James Earl Jones, Maya Angelou, George Jones, Hallmark Cards, Minnie Pearl, Robert Shaw, Johnny Cash, Frank Capra, Bob Dylan, Clint Eastwood, AT&T and National Public Radio.

 February 13th, 2012

Academy of Country Music - Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award


Along with Marty Robbins, Mel Tillis has been chosen to receive the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award honoring individuals who are pioneers in the country music genre.

 April 07th, 2010
An Interview with Mel Tillis

An Interview with Mel Tillis

A recent interview with the legendary Mel Tillis! CSC recently spoke to the singer/songwriter/actor about his latest happenings, his take on today's new country, and MORE!  Click here to read.

 November 01st, 2009

CMA Announces Ralph Emery, Vince Gill and Mel Tillis as Newest Members of Country Music Hall of Fame

Announcement Made at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum With Special Guests Brenda Lee, Barbara Mandrell and Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell

Nashville, Tennessee - The Country Music Association announced today that influential radio and television personality Ralph Emery, multi-award-winning entertainer Vince Gill and legendary singer/songwriter Mel Tillis will become the newest members of the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame. Emery will be inducted in the ìNon-Performerî category, which is awarded every third year in a rotation with the ìCareer Achieved National Prominence Prior to World War IIî and ìRecording and/or Touring Musician Active Prior to 1980î categories. Gill will be the third artist inducted in the ìCareer Achieved National Prominence Between 1975 and the Presentî category, which was created in 2005. Tillis will be inducted in the ìCareer Achieved National Prominence Between World War II and 1975î category. ìInduction into the Country Music Hall of Fame is the highest musical honor a Country Music artist and industry veteran can attain,î said Tammy Genovese, CMA Chief Operating Officer. ìAll three of these extraordinary men are highly deserving of this honor. ìRalph Emery brought more than just Country Music into our homes via radio and television. His entertaining and thought-provoking interviews have always provided a unique glimpse into the personal side of our favorite performers. ìAs a singer, songwriter and performer, Mel set a high standard for all entertainers. His presence in movies and TV alongside the top actors of that time gave Country Music a higher profile in the ë70s and made Mel a pop culture icon. ìVince is the ultimate triple threat: a singer with the voice of an angel, a songwriter who conveys the joys and heartbreaks of life with every word he writes, and a consummate musician, who is equally at home playing guitar with Chet Atkins or Eric Clapton. As the longtime host of the CMA Awards, Vince also represented Country Music with dignity and humor for 12 years.î Emery, Gill and Tillis will be officially inducted in October during the traditional, invitation-only Medallion Ceremony at the Country Music Hall of FameÆ and Museum. ìIt is with great pride that CMA will induct these three outstanding artists and personalities into the Country Music Hall of Fame, where they will join a small yet monumental group of entertainers and industry veterans whose influence on Country Music is enormous,î said Genovese.

 August 07th, 2007

Mel Tillis Inducted As Newest Member of the Grand Old Opry

Nashville, Tennessee - Country music legend and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Mel Tillis was inducted into the world-famous Grand Ole Opry this evening. "Tonight we are honored to welcome one of country music's finest entertainers into the Opry's family of new stars, superstars, and legends," said Pete Fisher, Opry vice president, and general manager. "Mel's remarkable talents as a singer, songwriter, actor, and comedian are a perfect compliment to the Opry's promise to present authentic, high-quality country music experience. Welcome to the family, Mel."

 June 09th, 2007

Mel Tillis Invited To Become A Member of the Grand Ole Opry

Nashville, Tennessee - NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Country music legend and Nashville Songwriter Hall of Fame member Mel Tillis was invited to become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. Tillis' formal induction will take place on Saturday, June 9. 

After taking the Opry stage to perform two songs, Tillis was approached by Opry member Bill Anderson who asked, "How would you like to become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry? We'd love to have you." A very moved Tillis replied, "This is another part of a dream yet to be fulfilled. The Opry's always been on my mind. God bless the Grand Ole Opry." 

After Tillis walked off stage Anderson remarked, "When I was asked to invite Mel, I said, "I whisper and Mel stutters. No one is going to know what was said.!'" 

"All of us with the Opry are excited to welcome Mel Tillis as our newest Opry member on June 9," said Pete Fisher, Opry, vice-president and general manager. "Mel is known around the world for his unique and high-quality brand of entertainment. Whether as a singer, actor, or songwriter, he represents what the Opry's all about, and we look forward to welcoming him into our family of new stars, superstars, and legends."

 May 12th, 2007