Estate of Denial:  More than 40 years after the death of country singer “Gentleman” Jim Reeves, a Nashville court will determine the fate of his musical legacy – and the ownership of his considerable posthumous royalties.

Reeves heirs – chiefly his nieces – and the surviving second husband of his widow Mary Reeves Davis will return to Davidson Country Probate court January 23.

The two-day trial will determine how big a stake Terry Davis, the second husband, has in Mary Reeves Estate, which owns Jim Reeves’ music royalties. Those royalties have ranged from $100,000 to $400,000 per year, according to court records.

Jim Reeves was a country crooner and ambassador of the “Nashville Sound” of the 1950s and 1960s. One of his best-known songs, “He’ll Have to Go,” includes the lyrics “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone.” He died in a Brentwood plane crash in 1964 at the age of 39.