REMEMBERING DOBIE GRAY
By Evans Donnell
When Dobie Gray passed away on December 6, 2011, the Nashville entertainment industry and the Screen Actors Guild lost one of their finest ambassadors.
“Dobie was a kind man with a transcendent talent, but his grace, humility and dignity truly made him special,” said Nashville Branch president Michael Montgomery. “He should serve as an example to us all.”
Gray, who according to his official website was 71 at the time of his death, is best-known for his soulful 1973 signature tune Drift Away, but there is much more to his rock, pop, soul, gospel and country-flavored career than that unforgettable hit or The “In” Crowd song that provided his first top-20 hit in 1965. One of the places where his music was popular was South Africa; Before he would perform there, however, he insisted that the apartheid government then ruling that nation allow him to play before integrated audiences, which supposedly made him the first artist to do so.
The list of people Gray worked with or wrote for reads like an entertainment Who’s Who: Sonny Bono, Ray Charles, Johnny Mathis, George Jones, Don Williams, Exile, John Conlee, Tammy Wynette, Etta James, Nina Simone, Charlie Pride, Conway Twitty, Brook Benton, Three Dog Night, Julio Iglesias, John Denver, Paul Rogers, Razzy Bailey, Uncle Kracker and B.J. Thomas, among many others. He worked in Los Angeles after arriving there in the early 1960s from his native Texas, before relocating to Nashville in 1978.
Dobie Gray at the 2003 AFTRA National Convention in Nashville. Photo courtesy of Carla Christina Contreras — ACelebrityExperience.com
He also contributed to national radio and TV commercials for Procter & Gamble, Chrysler Corp., Ultra Slimfast, Oscar Mayer, Chevrolet, Buick, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Allstate, Sunbeam, Budweiser, McDonald’s, American Movie Classics and others. Remember Momma’s Got the Magic of Clorox 2? It was just one memorable jingle among many from his creative mind.
Gray joined the Screen Actors Guild in 1968 and was a member of the Nashville Branch Screen Actors Guild Council from September 2004 to September 2008.
Gray’s commitment to his fellow performers and SAG remained strong throughout his career; his gentle manner, soothing voice and ready smile were gifts he gave to all that crossed his path. He said in more than one interview that he wanted to create “songs from the heart” that audiences would remember; he succeeded in that effort and so much more.
WELCOME NEW MEMBERS AND TRANSFERS
Greg J. Welsch
Richard W. Cox (KY)
Matthew M. Hasselbeck
Dobie Gray – December 6, 2011
Frank Knapp – February 11, 2012
William E. Strange – February 22, 2012
From the Nashville Branch President
by Mike Montgomery
VOTE YES ON MERGER!
On January 28, the National Board of Screen Actors Guild, by an 87 percent majority, voted to bring to the membership for an up or down vote, the Merger Agreement between Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. This agreement was reached after months of painstaking negotiation between the two unions and is a template for the creation of the most powerful force in the history of the entertainment industry.
SAG-AFTRA will not be two unions with shared jurisdiction covered by separate contracts that are played against each other by management. It will not be joint negotiations bound by uneasy truces. It will not be earnings split between two unions resulting in the loss of pension and health credits. SAG-AFTRA will be ONE UNION with ONE VOICE in solidarity for all.
From left, Nashville Vice President and National Director Cece DuBois, AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon and SAG New York Division Vice President Rebecca Damon
We have an opportunity to change the way actors, singers, broadcasters and performers of all genres are addressed by management in a constantly evolving media landscape. Let’s change more than the conversation, let’s change the industry. Please join me and your Nashville Branch officers and councilors — VOTE YES!
Remember to vote yes twice if you’re a dual member. MERGE NOW!
ONE UNION, ONE VOICE,
National Board Report
By Cece DuBois
Vice President, SAG National Director
There’s a lot going on in our Guild and our industry right now that’s of great importance to all of us. I’m going to mention just a couple of items:
• In the realm of so-called “Right to Work” (RTW) legislation, Indiana just became the 23rd RTW state…several other states have active legislation pending as well. On many fronts across the country and the world, organized labor is under active siege. That’s a subject I could delve into and probably put you to sleep with…so I won’t. I’ll save that for another day, but know this: It’s important stuff, and it’s coming soon to a newsletter near you. But the issue of the anti-labor environment we all face takes me to the next subject: I want to address a single issue that is at the forefront of our Guild; it’s of grave significance to all of us: the current merger referendum, and our votes that will define our history for decades to come.
• I’ve been your national director for several years. During my tenure, there have been three votes taken by the National Board on merger. Each time we voted on our approval of it, and whether or not to give the members a chance to vote. On each occasion, I cast my YES vote. I supported merger, and I wanted to allow the members to speak through their vote via the democratic process. The last two times, the referendum failed by only a handful of votes — we had well over 50 percent, but did not hit the 60 percent required for it to pass.
• Time marched on, our Guild suffered through some rough years and now here we are again; today we have the opportunity to vote YES on merger with AFTRA. Here’s a point I’d like to highlight: Our votes, this time, will quite literally define the course of our Guild from here on out. Though we current members have been dealing with and discussing this issue for what seems like forever, the truth is that the subject of joining with AFTRA has been alive in some form since the 1930s. All to say, the time is now. We are there. This is it.
• I stand in strong support of our Guild merging with AFTRA. There has never been a better time. In the recent Sound Recording negotiations, five of the negotiators across the table represented five different entities…all owned by Disney. The multinational conglomerates for whom we work would love to see our unions continue the battles we fight with each other. They know that if we keep doing that, we will be in a race to the bottom — one that will make them the winners, not us. So we must begin to think strategically and build a tent that covers all performers in the entertainment industry, wall to wall. This merger is between SAG and AFTRA, and I see it as the first step. I am Equity-eligible, and have friends who are Equity members. They are watching closely, fingers crossed. In a perfect world, and perhaps the future world of our two merged unions, Equity and other performer unions will come under the tent with us. What a glorious, powerful and unified day that will be.
In the meantime, I will be VOTING YES on this merger. In fact, as a dual cardholder, I’ll be VOTING YES TWICE. I hope you will too. It is up to us: Our votes will define this effort in one of two ways: “Third time’s the charm” or “Three strikes and you’re out.” I much prefer the first option, don’t you?
Please visit sagaftra.org to obtain more factual information and answers to your questions regarding merger.