Crystal Gayle has enjoyed a career of superlatives, including 22 #1 singles, becoming the first woman in country music to have a platinum record (1977’s We Must Believe in Magic) and, of course, her trademark hair which could leave Rapunzel suffering from an inferiority complex.
So, it is little surprise that the Country Music Hall of Fame’s exhibit on Gayle’s life and music, appropriately titled Crystal Gayle: When I Dream, has been extended due to enormous popularity. The exhibit will now run through February 1st at the Nashville-based institution.
“I am honored and very excited that the Country Music Hall of Fame has extended my exhibit,” Gayle says. “So many fans have told me how much they have enjoyed my display at the Hall of Fame, and I have too.”
Born Brenda Gail Webb in 1951, Gayle is the youngest sister of fellow country icon, Loretta Lynn. Nineteen years Gayle’s senior, Lynn served as an important mentor throughout the early stages of Gayle’s career. Signing with Decca in 1970, the label asked her to record under a different name in order to avoid possible confusion with another Decca artist, Brenda Lee. Lynn suggested “Crystal,” apocryphally after noticing the name on a Krystal Hamburger sign. “Gail” was changed to the more exotic spelling “Gayle.” And thus was Crystal Gayle born.
Gayle’s early style strongly mirrored Lynn’s, resulting in recordings that often found their way onto the Top 100 but not the Top 10. A move to United Artists enabled her to develop her own sound —a smoother and more pop-oriented approach well suited to Nashville trends of the 1970s. It also netted Gayle her first Top 10 single, 1974’s “Wrong Road Again.” Spending the following years perfecting her sound, in 1977 “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” combined easy accessibility to both country and pop audiences with a little bit of smooth jazz panache—hitting #1 on country charts and #2 on Billboard’s Top 100 as well as earning Gayle a Grammy for Best Country Female Vocalist. Throughout the remainder of the 70s and 80s, Gayle was a powerful presence in both country and pop. Though no longer a regular hit maker, her music remains tremendously influential, especially on country-pop artists actively pursuing crossover appeal.
Among the Gayle items displayed as part of the Hall of Fame exhibit are family photos of Gayle with Loretta Lynn and Peggy Sue, her custom white microphone with her name engraved in gold, a red parlor guitar custom-built for Gayle by Danny Ferrtington and her 1977 Grammy for “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”
For additional information, and an extended list of items on display, visit the Country Music Hall of Fame’s webpage on the Gayle exhibit.
Watch Gayle perform her crossover classic, “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.”