Don Schlitz was born in Durham, North Carolina. Don Schlitz has written 24 number one songs, including four for North Carolina Music Hall of Fame member Randy Travis—“Forever and Ever, Amen”, “Heroes and Friends”, “On the Other Hand”, and “Deeper than the Holler”.
The very first song he had cut was a little song that Kenny Rogers recorded called “The Gambler”…he also crafted three hits for the The Judds: “I Know Where I’m Going,” “Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain” and “Turn It Loose.”
Schlitz not only reached the top of the charts with his songs, he received top awards for them. “The Gambler” won a Grammy and Country Music Association Award for “Song of the Year” in 1979.
His song “On the Other Hand” won Song of the Year honors in 1986 from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music and the next year “Forever and Ever, Amen” won a Grammy, CMA, ACM and Nashville Songwriters Association International Award for “Song of the Year.” He was named ASCAP’s Country Songwriter of the Year for four consecutive years.
Don Schlitz graduated from Durham High School and briefly attended Duke University before moving to Nashville in 1973. In 1993, Don Schlitz was voted by his peers into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.
Songs that Don has written or co-written have been recorded by artists such as Alabama, Mark Chesnutt, The Forester Sisters, Reba McEntire, Ronnie Milsap, George Strait, Keith Whitley, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tanya Tucker, Lorrie Morgan, Sara Evans, and even Garth Brooks….just to name a few.
His musical, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, opened on Broadway in 2001, and regularly plays throughout America in schools and community theatres.
ASCAP gave Don their coveted Artistic Achievement Award in 2007, and in 2010 the Academy of Country Music selected Don to be one of the first six songwriters to receive the Poet’s Award–a special honor for lifetime achievement. Don and his wife Stacey live in Franklin, Tennessee and often return to visit family and friends in North Carolina.
In additions to all the awards, Don Schlitz has the singular honor of having written one of the most quoted lines in the history of song: “you’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.”