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Excerpts from Sen. Zell Miller’s “They Heard Georgia Singing”: On country guitarist Chet Atkins: “His guitar-playing helped him overcome teasing about his hillbilly accent and earned him not only the attention of the girls but also the gratitude of his male compatriots for providing cover [for] their school rest room craps games. While they gambled in the toilet, Atkins would play outside; and, when he began singing, it was his signal to them that the principal or some faculty was coming. That boyhood experience in the rest room gave him the idea in his later career for creating the first recording echo chamber.” On soul singer Gladys Knight: “The story that Gladys Knight was born singing instead of crying is apocryphal, but … [Knight] formed her first group at eight to sing at the birthday party for her brother Merald, who is known as Bubba. Besides herself, the group was composed of Bubba, their sister Brenda, and their cousins Eleanor and William Guest. Their performance so impressed their uncle, James Wood, that he urged them to continue professionally. Then they took his nickname, ‘Pip,’ as the group’s name.” On opera singer Roland Hayes: “Roland Hayes, the son of slaves from Georgia, changed musical and civil rights history before Martin Luther King Jr. was born with an incomparable tenor voice that stilled the harshest of hostile audiences … . When he could find no one to sponsor him, he took his savings from his job as a page and rented the Boston Symphony Hall for a concert in 1917. At the time musical critics claimed no black man could understand European classical music and that no one would pay to hear on try to sing it. He proved them wrong on both counts. The hall sold out. … In Berlin, Germany, an angry audience taunted, hissed, and jeered at him when he appeared on the stage. He stared the hecklers down in silence for 10 minutes; when he began singing, they took their seats in an awed hush. The morning newspaper reported that ‘the public had expected a sensation, but found an artist.’ “

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