(b. 1957) – Ed Wilson, born and reared in Rison, Arkansas, is president of Chicago-based Tribune Broadcasting Company, which owns and operates 23 television stations and WGN radio in Chicago. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Arkansas and was an active member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon while in school. He began his broadcasting career as sales manager at KATV, Channel 7 in Little Rock, and served as president of NBC Enterprises from 2000 to 2004. Before NBC Enterprises, Wilson was president and CEO of CBS Enterprises and Eyemark Entertainment, overseeing syndication of shows such as “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Touched By An Angel” and “Martha Stewart Living” among others. In 1994 he founded MaXaM Entertainment in partnership with A.H. Belo Corp. The company was sold in January 1996 to CBS. He began with Fox broadcasting Company in 2004 as president of the Fox Television Network. He left Fox in February 2008 to join Tribune.
(b. 1976) – Rogers native, Joe Nichols, found his love for country music at a young age listening to his family pick on their guitars. He made his debut at age 20 with a self-titled album on the independent Intersound label. His 2002 single “The Impossible” gained him recognition and critical acclaim for his neotraditionalist country style. The single peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and was followed by his No. 1 single “Brokenheartsville” from his platinum-certified second album, “Man With a Memory.” His albums include “Revelation” (2004), which included the Top 10 hit “If Nobody Believed in You,” “A Traditional Christmas,” “III” (2005) gold-certified that produced his biggest hit to date the No. 1 single “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” “Real Things” (2007) which produced the Top 20 hits “Another Side of You” and “It Ain’t No Crime.”
(b. 1935) – Born in Huntsville and raised in Fayetteville, his mother was a teacher and his father a barber. After graduating from high school, he studied physical education at the University of Arkansas, where he formed his first band, The Hawks. Hawkins owned and operated the Rockwood Club in Fayetteville where some of rock music’s earliest pioneers came to play, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Conway Twitty. Upon the recommendation of Conway Twitty in 1958, who thought Canada to be the promised land for a rock n’ roll singer, Hawkins went to Hamilton, Ontario to play a club called The Grange and never left Canada. Over a period of time, the members of the The Hawks, except for Levon Helm, were replaced with Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson. This was the line-up that was to later become known as The Band. In 1989, Hawkins was reunited with The Band at the concert marking the destruction of the Berlin Wall, and in 1992 he performed at the inaugural party for President Bill Clinton. He has been known over the years as “Mr. Dynamo,” “Sir Ronnie,” “Rompin’ Ronnie” Hawkins or “The Hawk.” He was a key player in the 1960s rock scene and for over 40 years has performed all over North America, recording more than 25 albums. His best-known hits are “Forty Days” and “Mary Lou.”
(1908-1965) – Born Aleck Ford in Glendora, Mississippi, Sonny Boy Williams was a masterful songwriter and performer. He was one of the most influential blues performers of his generation and, along with Robert Lockwood, was one of the first electric blues acts in the Delta. In the late 1920s he began performing at jukes and parties, traveling throughout Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee working as a one man band with harmonicas, drums and the zoo thorn at dance halls, lumber camps, carnivals and ballparks. In the mid 1930s he was being called “Little Boy Blue” and worked at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. In late 1941, he adopted the “Sonny Boy Williams” name and along with Robert Jr. Lockwood began performing on KFFA in Helena and the “King Biscuit Time” radio program where he performed daily until his death. Some of his songs, “Don’t Start Me Talking,” “The Key,” “Nine Below Zero,” “Help Me” and many more can be found in any serious blues harmonica player’s repertoire today.
(b. 1950) – Born and raised in Mammoth Springs, Arkansas, Tess Harper attended Missouri State University in Springfield and began acting in theater production and appearances in theme parks, dinner theaters and children’s theater. In 1982 she won the role of Robert Duvall’s younger wife in the film “Tender Mercies,” which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. She appeared in the TV mini-series “Chiefs” (1983) and “Celebrity” (1984), as well as many made-for-TV movies. Also in 1983, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as Chick Boyle in “Crimes of the Heart.” She also had roles in “Ishtar” (1987), “Far North” (1988), “The Man in the Moon” (1991), “The Jackal” (1997) and “Loggerheads” (2005). She had a regular role in the CBS TV series “Christy” from 1994 to 1995. She shared a Screen Actors Guild Award in the Best Ensemble Cast category with her fellow cast members in 2007’s Best Picture, “No Country for Old Men.”
Doyle (1930-1982) and Teddy (1931-2003) Born in Hardy, Arkansas, these brothers were child performers in an act called The Wilburn Family. They were brought to the Grand Ole Opry by Roy Acuff in the 1940s. Due to child labor laws, the Wilburns were forced to leave the Grand Ole Opry after only six months, however, continued to travel and were regulars on the Louisiana Hayride from 1948-51. They had their first hit record in 1954 titled “Sparkling Brown Eyes.” Other hits include “Go Away With Me” (1956), “Which One Is to Blame” (1959), “Trouble’s Back in Town” (1962), “It’s Another World” (1965), and “Hurt Her Once for Me” (1967). The Wilburn Brothers were Opry members from 1953 until Doyle’s death in 1982 and Teddy continued with the Opry as a solo artist until his own death in 2003.
(b. 1941) – Wayne Jackson grew up in West Memphis playing the guitar. He found his true passion at age 11 when his mother brought home a trumpet. When he was in the 12th grade his love for music took him across the Mississippi River to Memphis, where he became a legendary backup trumpeter in such groups as the Mar-Keys, and would go on to perform with a who’s who of artists. He has played on recordings by Aretha Franklin, Sting, Elvis Presley, U2, Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson, Billy Joel, Otis Redding, The Doobie Brothers, Jimmy Buffet and Rod Stewart. Jackson was the co-founder, with Andrew Love of the legendary Memphis backing band, of The Memphis Horns. He has performed on 52 number one hits, 83 Gold & Platinum albums, 115 top-ten records and 15 Grammy award winners. Recently, he recorded the new James Bond theme song for “A Quantum of Solace” with Alicia Keys and Jack White.