St. Marys native Judy Lee Schreiber will soon be in some very impressive company when she travels to Music City to be honored by the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The trip to Nashville, Tenn., will honor Schreiber's musical group, "Betty Amos With Judy And Jean," for their decades of dedication to promote excellence in country music. The ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12 at the Country Music Hall of Fame Auditorium.
The group, comprised of Schreiber, who goes by Judy Lee onstage, and sisters Betty Amos and Jean Amos, have recorded and performed all over the country.
"We've been together for a long long time-- since 1958," Schreiber said.
The trio is a longtime member of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and well-known radio/broadcast shows WWVA Wheeling Jamboree and The Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport. They are also recording artists and have recorded with labels Starday, Mercury, Philips and Stop Records. Schreiber herself has recorded "Blueberry Hill" and a song she wrote called "Someone to Hear My Cry," which charted well.
Schreiber is the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Bernard and Caroline Schreiber of St. Marys, and her three siblings, brothers Gary and Bernie Schreiber, and sister Donna Palmer, still live there. She said her father is the one who inspired her to enter the music field.
"My father had a band-- it was called Barney and the Hayshakers. He was a fantastic musician. They played all over St. Marys," Schreiber said. "I used to sneak downstairs when they used to practice on Wednesdays. Finally, I was 14 and I said, 'I wanna learn how to play.' He taught me how to play the guitar and I was playing with him in three months, and I always dreamed of playing [for a living].
"I started out playing rhythm guitar, and then I played bass, and now I play lead guitar, and I pick at different instruments, but professionally I played those things."
Schreiber said her dad wanted to take his band on the road, but it wasn't feasible at that time.
"He wanted to travel so bad, but I traveled for him in the end," Schreiber said. "He died at 59 in the hospital (in 1964), but he got to hear our first record as a trio in 1963. He died in 1964.
"At least he got to hear me, and he was very proud."
Schreiber said a compilation of the group's recordings will be played for the audience attending the ceremony. The trio will also participate in a roundtable discussion and tape an interview with an historian from Tulane University in New Orleans.
"Betty (Amos) has been the only girl singer that has been affiliated with all three of them. She played at the Grand Ole Opry with Bill Carlyle, and then she was a regular with the Louisiana Hayride, and then all three of us were at Wheeling, W.V., so she played at the top places in the country," Schreiber said.
Although they don't go on the road anymore and don't play together like they used to -- "the last we played was about four years ago at the Louisiana Hayride reunion," Schreiber said -- the group plans to have a great time. The three ladies seem to enjoy life quite a bit-- and that may be because their lives could have ended abruptly early in their journey. The trio survived a crash landing on ice in January 1961 while on their way to Greenland to entertain U.S. troops.
"That one hit the headlines in St. Marys, too," Schreiber said.
Schreiber has a other passions in addition to country music, and she already happens to be in a hall of fame -- the National Senior Softball Hall of Fame, located in Gallatin, Tenn.
"After quitting playing on the road [with the band], I started to play slow-pitch softball in the Senior League," Schreiber said.
In 1997, Schreiber's team, the American Legion Post 17 60-plus Senior Women, won the Gold Medal at the Tucson, Ariz. Senior Olympics, never losing a game in the series. In 1998, she founded a World Tournament for senior women; that league has expanded and has 52 teams from the United States and Canada, and Schreiber is the national senior women's director for the Softball Players Association (SPA). She is looking forward to going to the Women's World Championship in Dalton, Ga., next weekend.
Even though she spent many years on the road playing music and now travels for softball, Schreiber hasn't forgotten her small-town roots and still comes to St. Marys on a regular basis.
"I come home probably once a year and try to visit with a lot of the people because I still have a lot of friends there," Schreiber said.