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The country music industry finally recognised Gene Watson for his immense vocal talent and his distinctive contribution to the country music genre, by awarding him with the 'Male Golden Voice' Award at the 2nd Annual Golden Voice Awards; the Annual Golden Voice Awards salute 'men and women who have given country music her voice'.
The 2nd Annual Golden Voice Awards, which were held on Monday 12 June 2000 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Centre in Nashville, was hosted by Bill Anderson and Jan Howard.
Ralph Emery, with Gene Watson, as he proudly displays his 'Golden Voice Award' trophy in Nashville on Monday 12 June 2000
More than 700 people attended the brunch event at the Opryland Hotel, with proceeds going to the Performers Benefit Fund, which provides adequate health care for qualifying members of the Grand Ole Opry and is administered through a board of directors elected by Opry members.
On Friday 1 September 2000, during a conversation prior to appearing on the hallowed stage of The Grand Ole Opry, Gene Watson had the following to say:
'I feel disappointment at the fact that most country music radio stations in the USA do not play my music and I wish that I could do something about it. I feel that the Grand Ole Opry is so special because it was where country music began. I put it above all other places and feel privileged when I play on its hallowed stage.
The first time I played at the Grand Ole Opry was in the 1960s when I played at the Ryman with The Wilburn Brothers. I performed one song and received a standing ovation. I then had to perform a second song, which was ‘It Is No Secret’.
I am working on a box set of material and hope to go back to the early labels and others that cannot be found. I would love to record an album of Christmas material. I feel that Merle Haggard can get more out of a phrase than anyone else and I would like to record with him one day'.
Speaking of Merle Haggard, Gene Watson had recorded two of Merle's compositions; 'I Must Be Somebody Else' was included on 'Heartaches, Love & Stuff' (MCA Records, 1984), while 'Today I Started Loving You Again', which was written by Merle Haggard and Bonnie Owens (Tuesday 1 October 1929 - Monday 24 April 2006), featured vocal harmonies from Lee Ann Womack, was included on 'In a Perfect World' (Shanachie Records, 2008).
Merle Haggard recorded 'I Must Be Somebody Else' and included the track on 'Swinging Doors and The Bottle Let Me Down' (Capitol Records, 1966).
Merle Haggard recorded 'Today I Started Loving You Again', which was written by Merle Haggard and Bonnie Owens (Tuesday 1 October 1929 - Monday 24 April 2006), and included the track on 'The Legend of Bonnie & Clyde' (Capitol Records, 1968).
In October 2000, Gene Watson was diagnosed with colon cancer. Gene was, in fact, in Nashville performing on the Grand Ole Opry when he got the symptoms. The guys in his Farewell Party Band got him on the bus and rushed him back to his home state of Texas.
Gene Watson went to the hospital in his hometown of Paris, Texas and went through a series of tests. It was in Houston, Texas where he received a full diagnosis. He had his cancer removed surgically and spent some time in hospital recuperating.
The type of surgery performed on Gene Watson was laparoscopic surgery, a procedure where Gene didn’t have to be cut open; the surgeon simply went in through a hole in him and removed the cancer surgically. For insurance purposes, Gene Watson underwent six months of chemotherapy, which made him feel quite ill to say the least.
Biography - 2001