Born in Staunton, Virginia, Fortune started singing when he was in high school. From being a member of his school’s choir, he became a professional singer. It took him a while to land his big break in music though. It was in 1981 when Fortune was discovered by Lew DeWitt of The Statler Brothers. A performance at a ski resort had led their paths to cross and eventually became a part of the famed vocal group.
Jimmy Fortune’s Success with The Statler Brothers
When Fortune met DeWitt, who happened to be both from Staunton, the latter was having Crohn’s disease. This made it difficult for him to meet the demands of the band’s busy schedule. Impressed with Fortune’s talents the first time he heard his performance, DeWitt recommended him to be his replacement. He auditioned with the group and passed it. Soon his tenor vocals were being heard with the group in their succeeding recordings.
Aside from his vocals, Fortune’s guitar skills were also an essential contribution. To top it all, he wrote songs which became the band’s latter-day hits. These include “Elizabeth,” “More than a Name on a Wall,” and “Too Much on My Heart.”
When the founding members of The Statler Brothers decided to retire the group in 2002, Fortune continued performing. He went on to become a solo artist and released his debut album When One Door Closes the following year. This has been followed by a string of albums released in different years. Fortune has also collaborated with other singers for the making of some of his albums. Among the notable singers that he worked with were gospel legend Bill Gaither, Vince Gill, the Oak Ridge Boys, Ricky Skaggs, and more.
Fortune’s most recent release was the 2017 collection of cover songs Sings the Classics. His versions of some of the classic hits like “Unchained Melody,” “Southern Nights,” and “Take Me Home (Country Road)” comprised the album.
In 2007, Fortune and The Statler Brothers were inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. The following year, the Country Music Association Hall of Fame added them to its list of honorees.
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