Hidden Birthright: The Story of Jett Williams, Daughter of Hank #CMchat
FingerCandyMedia.com is a blog about Social and New Media, Digital Strategy, Branding as well as tales of not only how I have used Social and New Media to accomplish productivity goals, but the stories of those I have met along the way.
I am an extremely honored to welcome Jett Williams, daughter of Music Legend Hank Williams to Country Music Chat ~ #CMchat on Monday December 26, 6pm PT/9pm ET. I think you will be amazed by her journey and all that she has been through to find the truth of her birthright.
If Jett Williams had made up the story of her life, she says, “it wouldn’t compare to the real thing,” and I am sure you will agree. Her bio reads like a sinister plot from a Lifetime movie, that wouldn’t have to be edited, or added to, for dramatic interpretation to make it more complicated or compelling, in fact it has made my head spin just trying to figure out how to interpret it to this blog post.
Jett spent most of her life not knowing her real last name, or that her father was “The Hillbilly Shakespeare,”and Music Icon, Hank Williams Sr.
For those of you who don’t know the name Hank Williams, he was an American Country Singer, Songwriter and Musician thought to be one of the most important Country Music artists of all time and certainly inspirational to many genres. Hank recorded 35 singles (five released posthumously) that would place in the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked number one.
Born Antha Belle Jett in Montgomery, Alabama, 5 days after Hanks untimely death (he was only 29 years old), to mother Country Music Singer Bobbie Jett (whose brief relationship occurred between Hank’s two marriages). Anatha Belle Jett was legally adopted by Hank Williams’ mother Lillian Stone in December 1954, who renamed her Catherine Yvonne Stone. After a two year battle to adopt baby Antha Belle Jett, Lillian died, making her a ward of the state of Alabama. After several foster homes, she was adopted again, and raised in Mobile, AL without a clue as to her true identity, even though Hanks sister, lawyers, ex-wives, administrators, publishers, and others knew about her existence.
Jett knew she was adopted, but all of her records were sealed and it was not until the early 1980s that she learned who her biological parents were. Although Hank Williams had executed a pre-birth custody agreement three months before her birth that gave him custody of his unborn daughter, she was forced to go to extreme lengths to prove the relationship and be recognized as Williams’ daughter. According to sources, her older half-brother, country music singer Hank Williams, Jr. was very slow to accept her as kin.
Dead end after dead end, led Jett to Washington, D.C. investigative attorney Keith Adkinson to help her, whom she later married (I told you this was like a Lifetime movie). That professional and personal union led to 9 years of litigation and an unraveling of conclusive proof that Jett was defrauded for the financial gain of others.
1985 – Alabama State Court ruled that she was the daughter of Hank Williams.
1987 – Alabama Circuit Court ruled that Hank Williams was Jett’s father and she was entitled to her half-share in the Williams estate.
1989 – Alabama Supreme Court ruled that Jett was defrauded and awarded her one-half of her father’s estate.
On June 4th, 1989 in Evergreen, AL; Jett made her professional singing debut on and began touring the world backed by her dad’s old band, The Drifting Cowboys.
1992 – the Federal Court in New York awarded Jett her share of her father’s copyright renewal royalties.
1993 – Jett made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry
Jett Williams is a professional speaker, performer and active in responsibilities as attendant to the Hank Williams estate she occupies along side her brother Hank Jr. She and Keith(her husband) took a lead in bringing the Country Music Hall of Fame Family Tradition exhibit, featuring Hank, Hank, Jr. and Jett, to fruition. The exhibit has been extended until 2011 and is the biggest, longest running and best attended exhibition in Hall of Fame history. Jett and Keith also initiated and won, after 8 years of litigation, estate ownership of 150 previously unreleased Hank Williams recordings. Partnering with TimeLife, Jett and Hank, Jr. released a 54 song, 3 CD box set of Hank’s Unreleased Recordings, which went worldwide October 28th, 2008. Ninety more unreleased songs will come out over the next three years, increasing the catalogue of Hank Williams recorded material by over 50%. The next estate project designed to perpetuate the legend and the legacy of Hank Williams will be a major, big screen motion picture telling the true story of his life.
You can learn more about Jett on Monday when she is a guest on Country Music Chat ~ #CMchat on Twitter.