Many years ago, two budding songwriters crossed paths in the office of a music publisher in Nashville, Tennessee. They struck up a conversation. In the course of their conversation, one asked the other, “Where are you from?” Not an unusual question as writers and musicians from all across the country would find their way to Music City, USA, hoping for their big break.
The musician replied, “Aw, you probably wouldn’t know this little town in south Georgia, but one time I almost got beat out in a talent show there by a kid who played the accordion!”
“That was me!” exclaimed Archie Jordan. The other musician, going by the stage name Eddy Raven, was Eddie Futch. His younger brother Gilbert was Archie Jordan’s friend and classmate at Metter Elementary School while Eddie was attending Metter High School back in the early 1960s.
Ironically, nearly 60 years after that talent show, the winner (Eddy Raven) and the first runner up (Archie Jordan) are both nominated for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame, which began in 1970, honors Music City’s top writers. With Nashville being the hub of country music worldwide, the nominees each year are some of the greatest songwriters who have ever picked up a guitar, played a piano, or put pencil to paper to compose the perfect song.
It is unusual that two of the 12 nominees in 2019 not only have their roots in Metter, Georgia, but that the two performed in the same talent show on the stage of what is now the Wilcox Auditorium.
Eddy Raven recalls that in that fated talent show he performed “North to Alaska.” The reward for beating out that kid with the accordion was three silver dollars. He says that there was a picture in the MHS yearbook showing the winners of the talent show.
Archie says that not too long after coming in second in the talent show, he heard Elvis. “At that moment,” he says, “I said to myself, ‘The accordion has got to go!’” It went, and he picked up the guitar.
Eddy remembers Archie being among his brother Gilbert’s friends who spent time at the Futch home. “I believe that I showed him a few chords on the guitar.”
Shortly after collecting the prize for the talent show, Eddy says his family moved from Metter to Louisiana. “It was great living in Metter,” he admits, “but we had family in Louisiana.” Ironically, it was that move to Louisiana that helped launch the career of Eddy Raven. “In Louisiana, I was exposed to all types of music and experiences,” he adds. Along the way, he was helped and encouraged by many who saw that there was talent there.
Eventually, Eddy Raven amassed a total of 18 top-ten hits with his greatest commercial success happening between 1984 and 1990. He has had six number-one singles on the Hot Country Songs chart.
In addition to the songs he has performed, Eddy Raven has written numerous country music singles. His songs have been covered by artists that vary from Elvis Costello to Conway Twitty. He has written songs for artists including Don Gibson, Randy Cornor, Jeannie C. Riley, and The Oak Ridge Boys.
Eddy tells the story of one of his greatest known hits. “I had a call saying that the Oak Ridge Boys were doing a Christmas album and they needed one more song. Did I have anything?” he relates. “I had just written a little song called ‘Thank God for Kids,’ so I sent it to them. The Oak Ridge Boys recorded it and it was an instant hit.” Later, Kenny Chesney recorded the same song.
According to Eddy, “That song legitimized all of my other songs. It is proof that a higher power pushes the pen.”
Being that Eddy Raven is both an artist and a songwriter, he is nominated in the songwriter/artist category of the Hall of Fame. Others on the list of nominees include Toby Keith, Brad Paisley and Dwight Yoakum. Only one artist/songwriter will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Archie Jordan is nominated in the category for songwriters, those who write music but do not record it. There will be two songwriters inducted into the Hall of Fame from the list of eight nominees in that category.
Writing music professionally for over 40 years, Archie has had a great deal of success. Over 100 artists have recorded his songs, with eight of them becoming number one hits. He was nominated for the prestigious Grammy award twice, and received the CMA nomination the same number of times. He has received 15 ASCAP Awards, and has had seven gold and three platinum albums.
After ditching the accordion and picking up the guitar, Archie began playing in teen bands. “We played school dances, talent shows, benefits and parties, almost every weekend,” tells Archie. “My mother was our manager because no one in the band was old enough to drive!” Although the kids in the band made very little money, they thought they had really made it.
By the age of 18, Archie had begun touring with The Tams as a musician. After college, he began his career as a songwriter and producer. His first Grammy nomination was for “It Was Almost Like a Song,” recorded by Ronnie Milsap. Other Archie Jordan hits performed by Milsap include “Let’s Take the Long Way around the World” and “What a Difference You Made in My Life.”
Archie’s second Grammy nomination came in the category Contemporary Christian music. It was for producing “Happy Man” and “You Gave Me Love,” performed by B.J. Thomas. The list of artists who have recorded songs he wrote or arranged includes Barbara Mandrell, Kenny Rogers and many others.
Induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame is one of the highest honors for songwriters in the United States. The list of previous inductees is a Who’s Who of songwriters and performers.
Eddy Raven/aka Eddie Futch and Archie Jordan had similar reactions to being nominated for induction into the Hall of Fame.
“I received an email from the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame about three weeks ago,” explains Archie. “I looked it over very closely and came to the conclusion that it is the real deal,” he laughs.
Eddy says that his first reaction was that surely they have made a mistake!
Both men say that they are grateful for the recognition of their bodies of work over the course of their careers.
Even though Eddy Raven and Archie Jordan have certainly logged the time to be able to retire, neither is ready to stop working in the music industry.
Eddy Raven continues to perform, but on a less hectic schedule. “I sold the buses several years ago, and now I fly to my gigs,” he explains.
Recent gigs include recording with Charlie McCoy and then doing some 13 or 14 songs with Toby Keith. Those songs with Toby Keith were a part of a fundraiser for a children’s hospital. Just last Friday night, Eddy Raven played The Grand Ole Opry, the epitome of Country Music.
Archie left Nashville several years ago and now lives in the Metter area. He does some concerts, often church appearances during which he sings songs he has written and shares his testimony. His son Josh is a missionary to Brazil. In getting familiar with the church in Brazil, Josh found that one of Archie’s songs is very popular with churches in the South American country, so Archie enjoys traveling to Brazil to share his story and music with the Brazilian church. The song that the Brazilians all know is “What a Difference You Made in My Life.”
The results of the voting for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame will be announced at a gala to be held on Monday, October 14, 2019.