The Oak Ridge Boys have been in the business for 42 years.
They’ve experienced every kind of praise, from Grammy Awards to an induction in the Country Music Hall of Fame last year. So, when Richard Sterban says the band had a good week, one wonders what could have the 73-year-old bass singer so excited.
Turns out, it is Blake Shelton.
The country singer and “The Voice” judge teamed up with the Oak Ridge Boys on the single “Doing It to Country Songs,” which was released in May.
Shelton invited the band to perform the song with him at the CMT Music Awards June 8. They also snuck in a verse of the Oak Ridge Boys’ 1981 hit “Elvira.” Three days later, they joined Shelton again, this time on stage at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium during the sold-out CMA Music Festival.
The performances put the Oak Ridge Boys back in the spotlight – or at least in People magazine, Sterban says.
He’s suddenly getting recognized while running errands around town.
Sterban admits the band doesn’t really fit in with today’s young, pop-centric country music. That’s OK, he says. The new artists bring in new fans and that is good for everyone.
“Country music is bigger and better than it’s ever been,” he says.
The Oak Ridge Boys have never really been obscure.
The group origins run back to World War II, when it was the Oak Ridge Quartet and performed in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where the atomic bomb was being developed. The band was one of the nation’s biggest gospel groups by the mid-1950s. The band’s classic lineup formed in the 1970s with Sterban and Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Joe Bonsall and continues to play to this day.
The band has 147 shows scheduled for 2016 already, Sterban says, with dates left to fill.
The last time the Oak Ridge Boys came through the Valley was in April 2015, just months before being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Kenny Rogers put the medallions around their necks and inducted the band into the rare company of entertainers like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and George Jones.
All the new publicity aside, that was a good day.
“For the Oak Ridge Boys to be mentioned in the same breath, it’s an honor,” Sterban says.