Jerry Salley inducted into Chillicothe High School’s Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame

Recently, singer/songwriter and Billy Blue Records Creative/A & R Director Jerry Salley made the trek from Nashville back to his hometown in Chillicothe, Ohio, for a special luncheon held in his former high school. There he was inducted into Chillicothe High School’s Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.

These inductions occurs every five years, where in a designated area of the 124-year-old school, plaques for distinguished alumni have been placed. Salley will become one of the 45 plus on display. Graduates of the school can be nominated by fellow alumni for consideration of the Hall of Fame. 

In a recent phone interview Jerry said…

“I have a second cousin that I didn’t know I had in Texas that nominated me. He reached out to me when I did my I Take the Back Roads song. I had done a video in my hometown and it was really popular in my home area. He saw it, fell in love with my music, and bought my CDs.

We got to talking. He was a TV producer for the Texas Rangers. We found out that his grandmother and my grandmother were sisters! They were two of thirteen kids. He was older and we never really knew each other. He’s on one of the alumni committees. He reached out to me in the wintertime and asked if he could nominate me for the Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame award. 

I was just blown away. I will always remember the day I got the call from Mrs. Linda Hill, Director of the Alumni for the Chillicothe Education Foundation, congratulating me on being selected as a 2024 inductee into our Chillicothe High School Distinguished Alumni Hall Of Fame! What an honor!”

Held in the Ohio high school’s gymnasium, a noon luncheon was hosted for all of five of the new inductees and their guests on Saturday, June 15. A sixth was inducted posthumously. Following the meal, a ceremony presented by the Chillicothe Education Foundation was held.

Read at his induction was…

Jerry Salley, Class of 1978, took his musical talents to Nashville after graduating from CHS and became a world class songwriter and performer in country, gospel, and bluegrass music. Billboard magazine has described him as, ‘One of Music Row’s greatest veteran tunesmiths.’

Indeed, Jerry has proven himself to be incredibly versatile, as over 540 different songs he has written have been recorded and sold over 18 million records worldwide. He penned Sir Elton John’s only chart single to appear on the Billboard Country chart, as well as songs recorded by such legends as Loretta Lynn, the Oak Ridge Boys, Chris Stapleton, Reba McEntire, and Brad Paisley, to name just a few. He is also an eight-time Dove Award nominee, having won the prestigious award twice, and he has performed on the Grand Ole Opry, as well as Late Night with David Letterman, Live with Regis and Kathy Lee, and NBC’s Today Show, where he sang background vocals with Linda Ronstadt.  

In 2018, Jerry created Billy Blue Records to help up-and-coming artists. It has become one of the premier labels of its kind in just six years. Jerry continues to release new music, including his latest album, The Songwriter, just released in May of 2024.”

On receiving this honor, Salley related…

“My Mother, Emma Salley, graduated from CHS in 1958, and I graduated from there in 1978. When I was in high school, I even had some of the same teachers that Mom had when she was in school. I am so happy Mom was able to attend the luncheon and ceremony induction, along with my wife, Erin, and several old friends. And, I want to thank another CHS graduate, Dave Burchett, for nominating me for this honor. It was a day I will never forget.

All of my school years were spent in the Chillicothe school system, and the incredible teachers I had – from kindergarten through high school – were major influences on me growing up there. Even as a little boy, music was always my focus and passion, and there were several teachers who strongly encouraged to me to follow my dreams and pursue my passion (as did my parents).

I am eternally grateful to have grown up in such a wonderful town with caring teachers and staff who have made such an impact on my life.”

Congratulations, Jerry Salley. Richly deserved!

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.