THE ART OF COUNTRY

Billy Ray Cyrus, Earl Scruggs and other stars see beauty in Randy Martin's creations

Randy Martin gave Billy Ray Cyrus the bird.

No, not that bird -- Randy's an artist and sculptor commissioned by Billy Ray's wife, Tish, to do a wood carving of a red-tailed hawk for her husband.

"There was a special reason," explains Randy. "One of these beautiful birds lives on his farm near Nashville, and when Billy Ray comes back from being on the road, the hawk always greets him and escorts him down the driveway to his house."

The carving was presented to Billy Ray at his fan club party during Fan Fair 2002. "When I presented Billy Ray his hawk, I couldn't help but recognize the pleasure and surprise in his eyes," recalls Randy. "He immediately showed me the red-tailed hawk tattoo on his arm, so I'd know what the bird meant to him."

Billy Ray isn't the only star who's a fan of the Nashville-area artist. One of Randy's best-known portraits is of Oak Ridge Boy William Lee Golden wearing a hat made of a wolf pelt -- with its head intact!

"William and I both are very passionate about nature, the outdoors and the mountain-man era," Randy says. "We've camped together at a rendezvous, shot bow-and-arrow on his property, and enjoyed a number of sweats in his sweat lodge."

His current project is drawing the image of Earl Scruggs on a line of signature banjos. "I was in heaven while I was working on that first banjo," reports Randy. "I literally draw the image on the piece of wood that becomes the back of the banjo."

Each banjo in the series carries an illustration of Earl signed by both Randy and Earl. "Sitting with Earl in his living room, I couldn't help but feel honored to be in his presence," Randy admits. "For such a quiet and unassuming man, he has influenced the lives of musicians in almost every form of the art."

Randy's own work has found its way into quite a few hearts. He designed a logo for Ricky Van Shelton and has created album covers for Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Charlie Daniels.

"My ability to do this art is a gift, and I want to be able to bring happiness to the people who see it and have it in their homes," he says. "I'm thrilled that some of the country entertainers appreciate what I do, because I certainly appreciate their talent to entertain me with their music."

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