“But the best part of a farm is a family,” from “Farm Family” on his Christmas CD.
Barry Ward was born in Dodge City, Kansas on September 26, 1953 to Leonard and Joan Ward. Raised on the family farm near Copeland, he grew up in ranching and farming. He attended Dodge City Community College and Northwestern Oklahoma State University. After college he returned to Copeland as a fourth generation farmer. In 1982, he married Dodge City resident, Victoria Schlegel and together they raised their two sons, B.J. and Hunter, and daughter, Sierra, in the house Barry grew up in. Barry served as a role model for youth when he coached both football and basketball at South Gray Junior High School in Copeland, Kansas. As a child, Barry dreamed of playing the guitar and when he was 35 years old he took his first guitar lesson from Ron Rolland in Dodge City. He began writing songs and soon sang at churches and western events. He became known as “The Landsman” due to his ties with farming and the land he cultivated being reflected in his music. Over the years he has been a regular performer at the Fidelity State Bank Dodge City Days Breakfast. He sang at the “Home on the Range” production by the Kansas Chapter of the Western Music Association celebrating the Kansas 150th anniversary in Wichita. He has entertained at the Kansas State Fair. In 2007, Barry was commissioned by the City of Greensburg to write “Up From the Debris” for the grand re-opening of the City after a devastating tornado. In 2008, Barry decided to pursue a full-time career as a musical entertainer, and moved with his wife, Victoria, to a ranch in Elbert, Colorado where he set up his production company Flying W Productions. He has performed in 22 states and two foreign countries, including the at 2002 Olympics in Utah and, in 2003, at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Barry was 2008 Male Vocalist in the Western Division of the Gospel Music Association. He was the first western entertainer to perform in Cameroon, Africa in 2010. Barry was named the 2013 Western Music Association Male Performer of the Year. His recording of “Eli Crow” written by the late Paul Hendel garnered him the Will Rogers Award as 2012 Song of the Year from the Academy of Western Artists. Several of his songs were included in the 2014 Kansas Cowboy CD released by the Kansas Chapter of the Western Music Association. In 2014 the closing credits of the documentary The Great American Wheat Harvest featured his song “Harvest in the Fall.” His CD Lonesome County Road received the CD of the Year Award from Rural Roots Music Commission.
Year inducted: 2014