Country music is celebrated for the strength of its stories, so it means something when one performer is singled out as “The Storyteller.” That performer is Tom T. Hall. The title was natural enough. Tom T. delivered a combination of detailed observation, arresting storyline, and full-bodied characters in such songs as “The Day Clayton Delaney Died,” “Old Dogs, Children, and Watermelon Wine,” “A Week in a County Jail,” and “Homecoming.”
One of 10 children born to a Baptist minister, Tom T. began playing guitar at age four and wrote his first song at nine. In his teens, he formed a bluegrass band, which performed locally. After a stint in the Army, while working as a radio copywriter in Roanoke, Virginia, he wrote songs on the side that were recorded by Jimmy C. Newman, Johnnie Wright, Dave Dudley, and Bobby Bare.
After moving to Nashville in 1964, he had several early hit recordings of his own, including “I Washed My Face in the Morning Dew,” and when Jeannie C. Riley’s recording of his “Harper Valley P.T.A.” sold six million copies and swept away multiple awards, Tom T.’s own recording career at Mercury Records accelerated. That career continued through more than 45 albums. For two years, he hosted the syndicated TV program Pop Goes the Country and made guest appearances on several other shows.
Today, Tom T. supervises acoustic sessions at his own recording studio, writes those utterly distinctive songs, and can be seen at venues from Nashville’s Station Inn to festivals across the country in support of the bluegrass music he holds especially dear.
Tom T. has authored a string of books, including an autobiography, a songwriting textbook, and several novels. His songs continue to be recorded with by bluegrass bands and country and Americana acts alike.
In 2008, Tom T. Hall was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
"I understood that there was such a thing as a Tom T. Hall song - there was something stylistic there."