Country Reunion Magazine, February 2023

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Country Reunion m • a • g• a • z• i • n • e

February 2023

Roy & Dale Tanya Tucker Jody Miller Stan Hitchcock George Jones February 2023 Rita Robbins … and more


Country Reunion Magazine

Who’s inside? Sweethearts, p. 3 Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, p. 4-5 Changes in Country Music, p. 6-7 Tanya Tucker, p. 8-9 Jodi Miller, p. 10-11 Areeda’s Cooking, p. 12 Gene Autry, Part II, p. 13 Elliott Lopes, p. 14-15 Nadine, p. 16 Stan Hitchcock, p. 17 George Jones Tribute, p. 18-19 Rita Robbins, p. 20-21 Renea the Waitress, p. 22 Book Club, p. 23 Georgette Jones Cruise, p. 24

Published monthly by

Country Road Management 710 N. Main St., Suite B Columbia, TN 38401 Larry Black, Publisher Paula Underwood Winters, Editor, Print Layout Claudia Johnson, Writer, Online Layout/Design Online Subscriptions $15 per year

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February 2023


Sweethearts Songs of love cover so many moments in each of our lives from the rst kiss

to the rst dance to the beginning of a life together. "Country's Family Reunion" celebrated love when several of country music's longtime couples got together to share their stories and some of their favorite songs in a 2014 "Sweethearts" special that can be accessed HERE beginning Feb. 3. Featured on the special are the love stories of and performances by Joey & Rory Feek Linda David & Scott Lang Rhonda Vincent & Herb Sandker Sheila and T. Graham Brown Sharon White & Ricky Skaggs Sonya Isaacs & Jimmy Yeary Duane & Norah Lee Allen TG Sheppard and Kelly Lang Janis & Larry Gatlin David & Jo Frizzel Nina & Jimmy Fortune If you would like to buy the Sweethearts DVD II plus the DVD for Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting II for $9.95+ shipping, call 1-800-820-5405

February 2023

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by Claudia Johnson With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s an ideal time to look at one of the most beloved couples in country music history, Dale Evans and Roy Rogers. A husband-and-wife music and lm duo known for t h e i r r o l e s i n we s te r n f i l m s a n d television shows, Evans and Rogers met in 1944 while they were both working on a lm called "Hollywood Canteen" and were married a year later. They had a strong partnership both on and o screen, and their love for each other was evident in their work. The couple faced a number of chal lenges in their personal and professional lives. One of their greatest heartbreaks was the death of their daughter, Robin, who died before the a ge of two f rom complications related to Down syndrome. D e v a s t a t e d b y Ro b i n’s l o s s , i t profoundly impacted their lives. They went on to adopt three children, Debbie, John David “Sandy”

and Mary “Dodie” Little Doe, a Native American. They also fostered a daughter, Marion, known as “Mimi,” from Scotland, whom they considered to be their adopted child as well. In addition to the loss of Robin, Evans and Rogers also endured nancial upheaval, especially as they began to establish their careers. They both came from humble beginnings and worked h a r d t o m a ke a n a m e f o r themselves in the entertainment industry. They often had to take on multiple roles in order to make ends meet, and they struggled to balance their work and personal lives. Despite these challenges, Evans and Rogers remained committed to each other and their relationship. They supported and encouraged each other, and their love for each other helped them overcome di culties and achieve both commercial success and nancial security.

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The Enduring Love of Dale and Roy

February 2023


"I married Roy Rogers, the King of the Cowboys, and together we were known as the King and Queen of the West,” Evans said. “But to me, he was always just Rogers, the man I loved and trusted and who always stood by me." T h i s q u o t e w a s t a ke n f r o m E v a n s 's autobiography, Angel Unaware, which was published in 1953. In the book, Evans writes about her life, the loss of her baby daughter and her relationship with Ro g e r s , i n c l u d i n g t h e h i g h s a n d l o w s t h e y experienced together. Evans and Rogers appeared in a number of Western lms together, including "The Cowboy and the Senorita," "Don't Fence Me In," "My Pal Trigger" and "Under California Stars." These lms were popular in the 1940s and 1950s and helped to establish Evans and Rogers as iconic gures in the Western genre. They also had a successful television series called "The Roy Rogers Show," which aired from 1951 to 1957. The show featured Evans and Rogers as a married couple who lived on a ranch and solved mysteries and crimes. In addition to their acting careers, Evans and Rogers also had a successful country music career,

Academy Awards in 1989. Photo: Alan Light

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Photo courtesy of the Orange County Archives. It was taken at Knott's Berry Farm in the 1970s.

releasing a number of albums together, including "Happy Trails," "Songs of the Pioneers," and "Trail Dusters." They also had a number of hit songs, including "Don't Fence Me In," "Happy Trails" and "You Are My Sunshine." Evans wrote many of the songs that she and Rogers performed together, and she often played a strong, independent female character in their lms. The home and ranch that Evans and Rogers shared was called the Double R Bar Ranch, located in Apple Valley, California. Purchased in the 1950s, it became their primary residence as well as a working ranch where they raised cattle and horses. The ranch was also a popular destination for tourists, who came to visit the Roy Rogers Museum, which was located on the property from 1967 until it moved to Victorville, California, in 1976, where it operated for 27 years. The museum featured exhibits about Evans’ and Rogers's lives and careers, as well as a collection of Western memorabilia and artifacts. In his autobiography, Happy Trails: Our Life Story, published in 1981, Rogers talked about the love and support Evans provided to him throughout their marriage and how she helped him navigate the ups and downs of his career. "Evans has been the sunshine of my life,” Rogers said of Evans. “She has been my guiding star through the good times and the bad. I couldn't have made it without her." The pair were married for more than 50 years until Rogers's death in 1998. Evans passed away in 2001 at the age of 88. Their love story is remembered as one of the most enduring in the histor y of entertainment.

February 2023


by Claudia Johnson One notable change in country music in recent years has been the increasing diversity of country music performers and songwriters.

Tony Jackson

While the genre has historically been dominated by white artists, there has been a push to include more artists from diverse backgrounds and to address a wider range of experiences and perspectives in country music. A favorite of “Larry’s Country Diner” audiences is Tony Jackson. Jackson set the country music world on re with his back-to-tradition vocal style on his highly acclaimed debut album, “Tony Jackson,” and never looked back. Touted as one of the most gifted singers ever to grace country music, his strong emotionally-charged and engaging voice captured the hearts of millions, seemingly overnight. The former U.S. Marine’s impressive string of radio chart hits include: “The Grand Tour,” “Old Porch Swing,” Nashville Cats,” Drink by Drink” and “Country Road.” Videos of Jackson performing on “Larry’s Country Diner” are among the most popular on the Diner’s YouTube channel.

There have been a number of other African American country artists who made signi cant contributions to the genre. Here are some notable gures and a brief overview of their careers: Charley Pride was a country music singer, songwriter and guitarist who rose to fame in the 1960s and 1970s. He is remembered for his smooth baritone voice and hits such as "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'" and "Is Anybody Goin' to San Antone." Pride, one of the most successful African American country music artists of all time, was inducted into the Grand Old Opry in 1993 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. DeFord Bailey was a pioneering African American country musician and harmonica player who was active in the 1920s and 1930s. He was one of the rst African American performers to be featured on the Grand Ole Opry, and he is credited with helping to popularize the harmonica as a solo instrument in country music. Stoney Edwards was a country singer and songwriter who had a string of hits in the 1970s and 1980s, including "She's My Rock" and "Hangin' In and Hangin' On." He was known for his smooth voice and his ability to connect with audiences through his lyrics. Ray Charles was a groundbreaking musician who fused elements of country, blues and jazz to create a unique sound. He had a number of country hits, including "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "You Don't Know Me." Charles was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2022. Darius Rucker is a country singer and songwriter who rst gained fame as the lead singer of the rock band Hootie & the Blow sh. He has had a successful solo career as a country artist, releasing hits such as "Wagon Wheel" and "Don't Think I Don't Think About It." Rucker has won numerous awards for his music, including three Country Music Association awards.

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Country Music Has Evolved & Diversified

February 2023


they competed on “America's Got Talent,” where they nished fth and also made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry stage. Despite facing challenges and discrimination within the industry, African American country musicians have persevered and continue to create meaningful and impactful music that resonates with fans around the world. Their contributions to country music are invaluable and their legacies will continue to inspire future generations of musicians of all backgrounds.

Charlie Pride Charley Crockett is a countr y singer and songwriter who has released a number of albums and has gained a devoted following for his blend of traditional country and blues. Cleve Francis is a country singer and cardiologist who has released several albums and had a number of hits, including "The Heart of a Man.” Jimmie Allen is a country singer and songwriter who gained widespread attention with his debut single "Best Shot" in 2018. He has had a number of other hits, including "Make Me Want To" and "This Is Us". Mickey Guyton is a country singer and songwriter who has released several singles and is known for her powerful vocals and socially conscious lyrics. She has been nominated for four Grammy Awards as well as for receiving award nominations from CMT Music, the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. Kane Brown is a country singer and songwriter who stays at the top of the country charts with hits such as "Heaven" and "Lose It." He has won several awards for his music, including two American Music Awards and a Country Music Association award. Hailing from Poplarville, Mississippi, sisters Danica Hart and Devynn Hart, and their cousin Trea Swindle, are vocalists and songwriters. In July 2022,

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Jimmie Allen

Darius Rucker

February 2023


Tanya Tucker Honored as Storyteller Tanya Tucker has been awarded the Distinguished Storyteller Award by The National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards. The Distinguished Storyteller Award is presented to a legendary person who has proven to be a great storyteller like the best journalists but through other forms of artistic expression. Past recipients include writer-director Quentin Tarantino and the creators of "Sesame Street.” A de ning voice of music and a modern-day legend, the two-time 2020 Grammy winner continues to inspire artists today. Born in Seminole, Texas, Tucker had her rst country hit, the classic “Delta Dawn,” at the age of 13 in 1972. Since that auspicious beginning, she has become one of the most admired and in uential artists in country music history, amassing 23 Top 40 albums and a stellar string of 56 Top 40 singles, 10 of which reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard country charts. Tucker’s indelible songs include some of country music’s biggest hits such as the aforementioned “Delta Dawn,” “Soon,” “Two Sparrows in a Hurricane,” “It’s a Little Too Late,” “Trouble,” “Texas (When I Die),” “If It Don’t Come Easy” and “Strong Enough To Bend.” She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including two CMAs, two ACMs and three CMT awards. In 2020, Tanya received two Grammys for Best Country Album, “While I’m Livin’” and Best Country Song, “Bring My Flowers Now.” In the fall of 2020, Fantasy Records released “Tanya Tucker – Live From The Troubadour” on October 16, the one-year anniversary of Tanya’s historic, standing-room only set from which it originates.

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February 2023


In October 2022 “The Return of Tanya Tucker, Featuring Brandi Carlile,” a documentar y that chronicles the resurgence in Tucker's career following the success of "While I'm Livin'," hit theaters globally via Sony Pictures Classics. Lauded by The New York Times, the documentary raves that Tanya “hasn’t lost a step in terms of phrasing. The teardrop in her voice, strategically used in heartache songs, remains credible. [The doc] interweaves the contemporary sessions…better-than-competent piece of fan service.” Ka t h l y n Ho r a n , w h o d i r e c te d t h e documentary, presented the Distinguished Storyteller Award to Tucker. In December 2022, Tanya made her acting debut in a lead role in Paramount’s “A Nashville Country Christmas,” starring alongside Academy Award winner Keith Carradine. On the spirits side, the country icon’s signature tequila, Tanya Tucker’s Cosa Salvaje Tequila, is now available in 14 U.S. states and Canada, with additional stores carrying the tequila every day. To keep up with Tanya Tucker, go to TanyaTucker.com. A new project featuring Tucker and Brandi Carlisle has been released

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February 2023


Wayfaring Stranger – The Final Recordings Jody Miller’s “Wayfaring Stranger – The Final Recordings” is a six-song collection that is the nal recording project of Grammy Award Winner Jody Miller. Presented by Heart of Texas Records, the release includes a re-recording of the late artist’s biggest record. Miller, a versatile singer with a rich, resonant voice who won a Grammy Award for “Queen of the House,” a homemaker’s reply to a hobo’s refrain, died on Oct. 6, 2022, at her home in Blanchard, Oklahoma. She was 80 years old. Although lauded for her recordings in the folk, pop, patriotic and Gospel genres, her most consistent success came in the eld of Country music, where she notched six Top 10 Hot Country hits out of her 30 Billboard charting singles, including her Grammy nominated cross-over version of “He’s So Fine.” It was Jody Miller’s intention to record a project primarily of songs that she had enjoyed performing throughout her illustrious career but never had the opportunity to record. She entered the Heart of Texas Recording Studio in Brady, Texas, and recorded the old-time spirituals “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Tramp on The Street.”

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Miller recalled hearing both of these songs as a child growing up and cited Molly O Day’s version of “Tramp on The Street” as one of her favorite versions of the classic. The song “I Can’t Even Walk Without You Holding My Hand” had become a personal favorite and testimony of Miller, especially during the last few years of her life. Written in 1974, by Colbert and Joyce Croft, the lines “I can’t even walk without you holding my hand. The mountain’s too high and the valley’s too wide. Down on my knees, I learned to stand. And I can’t even walk without you holding my hand” gave inspiration to Miller as she struggled with a debilitating disease. “For the past several years, I’ve been dealing with the e ects of Parkinson’s Disease,” Miller wrote in July of 2022. “Through God’s grace and help of my family and close friends, I have been able to complete this project. Although I wish I had been stronger, I am so happy and grateful to share the messages of faith and inspiration conveyed through the words and music of most of these songs. I pray that they will be an encouragement to you.”

February 2023


Miller also included a new song “Blessed Are the Believers, and asked her long time friend and fellow label mate Tony Booth to duet with her on the record. Miller and Booth were originally label mates on Capitol Records, and each spent a lot of time touring on the West Coast. Miller’s friend, Bill Lorance, a con dante of fellow Oklahoma music legend Kay Starr, presented Yvonne DeVaney’s country song “My Exes” to Miller, and she immediately decided to include it on the “Wayfaring Stranger” project. Miller concluded the project with a re-recording of her greatest hit, “Queen of The House,” the song that literally changed her life. Released in 1965, the song is based on Roger Miller's monster No. 1 hit from early 1965, “King of the Road.” The song would garner Miller a Grammy Award and became her signature record that propelled her into Country music, so it is very tting that she ended her recording career by leaving her fans another version of this classic. The musicians on the project included Michael Archer and Justin Trevino on bass, Deena Auderegg and Emily Gimble on piano, Justin Trevino on rhythm guitar, Charlie Walton on lead guitar, Jim Loessberg on pedal steel and drums, RJ Smith and Robert Weeks on ddle and Jennifer McMullen and Jody Miller on harmony vocals. It was recorded at the Heart of Texas Recording Studio in Brady, Texas, and produced by Justin Trevino. The album liner notes include a heartfelt farewell message to Miller’s fans, as she knew this was to be her nal recording project: “So now, I simply say,

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‘thank you, my friends’ for allowing me, through the gift of song, to be a part of your lives for all these years.” “ We f e l t p r i v i l e g e d t o w o r k w i t h Jo d y professionally for many years,” Heart of Texas Records President Tracy Pitcox said. “We were indeed honored that she chose Heart of Texas Records as the label to record her nal project. She was the ultimate professional, and her remarkable career will forever be remembered and cherished by fans all over the world.” Miller “Wayfaring Stranger” is now available at www.heartoftexascountry.com.

February 2023


Areeda’s

southern cooking Areeda Schneider Stampley

Broccoli & Cheddar Quiche 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 cups medium-diced yellow onion 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 6 large eggs 3/4 cup heavy cream 3/4 pound broccoli orets, steamed until crisp-tender 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese Basic Crust: 1 ¼ cups all-purpose our 1/2 cup margarine 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon sugar 3 tablespoons ice water Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high. Add onion and cook until lightly golden, 8-10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and cream. Add onion, steamed broccoli and cheese, and season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine, pour into crust, and bake 40-45 min. Serve warm or at room temperature. To store, refrigerate cooled quiche, tightly covered, up to 3 days. Reheat: cover with foil and place in 325 degree oven, until warm, about 15 min. To purchase Areeda’s Southern Cooking, a collection of old-fashioned recipes, send a check for $25 and your mailing address to Areeda’s Southern Cooking, P. O. Box 202, Brentwood, TN 37024. Order online with PayPal or credit card at www.areedasoutherncooking.com. Page 12

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1939 Gene Autry Interview, Part II Last month Country Reunion Magazine reprinted Part I of a 96-year-old article about Gene Autry om the archives of Rural Radio, a Nashvi e-based magazine focusing on radio stars and pop culture of the day. Part II begins with Autry traveling to New York City to explore his chances in the music business at the urging of his railroad boss, Jimmy Long, who recognized Autry’s talent as a singer and songwriter. – Editor.

Meet Gene Autry, America’s No. 1 Cowboy By Jack Harris, Rural Radio Magazine, January 1939 Jimmy Long supervised Gene's singing, gave him helpful ideas and encouraged Gene to start writing those songs inspired by the happenings in his own colorful life. Together Long and Autry wrote many ballads that are now nationally known. "Silver Haired Daddy" is one. Later the two of them "teamed up" to record many of these popular ballads. When vacation time came along in 1928, Jimmy urged Gene to go to New York to have a voice test for recording. The big city wasn't friendlier to Gene than it is to the rest of us. He did secure an appointment with one of the larger recording companies and went back to Oklahoma with a lot of good advice. Unlike most of us, Gene took this advice to heart and set out to get real experience as a professional singer. Then it was he "lassoed" his rst radio audience with the singular sincerity of his pleasant voice. Station KVOO at Tulsa, Oklahoma, gave him his title and introduced, "Oklahoma's Yodeling Cowboy, Gene Autry," to the radio world. From then on it was a "stampede." Gene had that real "twang" of the range and a repertoire of his own compositions that assured a varied and interesting program. He was welcome in every radio station in the South. In October 1930 Gene made his rst recordings. Today, he is recognized as one of the most popular among the long lists of famous artists recording for American records. A large mail-order house [Sears-Roebuck] o ered him a 13-week contract to sing on their radio program over WLS radio in Chicago. And the 13 weeks somehow stretched themselves into 13 months and on into better than three years. The radio audience became Autryconscious, and when letters began to pour in asking where copies of Gene's oft-requested song, "That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine," might be purchased, the frustrated station manager came to Gene and wanted

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to know where in thunder he got it. modestly. "Never did have time to put it down on paper." "Well, put it down on paper!" the station manager howled. "Get it published, for goodness sake! We're swamped with requests for information about that number!" So, Gene obligingly "put it down on paper." And, to date, the sale of "Silver-Haired Daddy" has hit the million mark not to mention the number of records that have been carried away from music counters all over the country. Autry has the distinction of being top man in the rst musical Western movie to hit the silver screen. He was touring the country as master of ceremonies with the National Barn Dance, of radio fame, when Nat Levine, head of Republic Pictures, asked to use the act in one of his horse operas. "I'd never even seen a movie camera," Gene con ded, "and I was scared to death the rst couple of days. Almost sorry I'd given up roping wild steers for a living." But, viewing the "rushes," Levine decided that the lad had something. And, with the wide-open spaces back in public favor, Gene found himself signed up for a series of singing Westerns. We asked him how he liked the movie racket. "It's all right," he said placidly. "Long as I can sing and play my guitar, it's real fun. Feel kinds foolish, though, makin' love to some girl I just met up with a little while before." Gene Autry is real people. He can't gure out the husky young leading men who have valets and such to "do" for them. "Shucks!" he declared. "When I get to the place where I can't take my own boots o , by gosh, I'll have to be in a wheelchair!"

February 2023


Woman Finds Man Who Saved Her Life By Renae Johnson

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A few days before Christmas 2022, Elliott Lopes, my sonin-law, received a call from a young lady. “I have nally found you!,” she said, breathless and excited. Four years ago, while riding his bike Elliott Lopez noticed a young lady at the edge of the Natchez Trace Bridge… a little too close. The historic Natchez Trace, which begins in Nashville a few miles from the Loveless Café, is a 444-mile parkway. With its double-arch, asymmetric bridge and nature views, it is a great for riding a bike and snapping sel es. Many times, deer can be spotted grazing on the side of the two-lane highway. As Elliott rode by, he felt like something wasn’t right. So, he turned around and went back to the young lady and pulled her from the ledge (just in time). He immediately called 911 and waited with her until the police arrived. Suicide is never the answer, and he prayed she got help. When he arrived home and told his wife (my daughter), Chi, about the incident, he realized he didn’t even know her name. The young lady, Lauren, turned her life around and started looking for the man on the bike who saved her life. For years she posted on social media and learned that between 2000-2022, 42 people died by suicide on the Natchez Trace Bridge. So she joined a coalition to construct a barrier in hopes of discouraging others from jumping. (There is now a chain-link fence on the bridge.) In more recent e orts to nd the man, she posted on TikTok, and someone suggested she try and get a copy of the 911 calls. Finally, she heard his name, and she was able to track Elliot down. Once the news media heard her story, they arranged for the two to meet. Lauren and Elliott reunited on Dec. 19, 2022. The reunion was aired on Nashville’s Channel 5 News and a few other media outlets. Our family is so proud of Elliott – Not only our family but also the “Larry’s Country Diner” family. Elliott has been a big part of our shows for years. You can nd him on the TV set, behind the scenes wearing a headset, where he feels most comfortable. (EXCEPT for the few shows Randy Little has talked him into modeling a PFI Vest or Jacket.) When the show is not taping, Elliott works full time for Larry Black and Country Road Management, as Content Manager, managing, lming and editing of all "Country’s Family Reunion" and "Larry’s Country Diner" content for Facebook, YouTube and all areas of the web. As his mother-in-law I am compelled to tell you why Elliott is not only a hero but also a wonderful man. When he and my daughter met he was the drummer for the Christian band, Seventh Day Slumber. Soon after their marriage they moved to California, where Chi had lived for the previous 10 years. Elliot started working at various sound studios while Chi continued working on commercials, shows, movies and stage gigs as a professional dancer Elliot and Rio Page 14 February 2023 countryreunionmagazine.com


After a few years they moved back t o Na s h v i l l e t o s t a r t a family! Elliott was the perfect t for Gabriel Communications, and living close to the o ces in Bellevue was great. Ho w e v e r, h e d i d h a v e o n e unful lled dream – to become a highway patrol officer. Taking a break from the company…he did become a Tennessee Highway Patrol o cer. Boy was that a change. Of course, we were proud of him, but it also was a constant worry. After a few years Elliott did make the decision to return back to working full time with Gabriel. I would say he missed working with Larry and me, but it might have been that he missed Nadine. We are so happy that Lauren is able to close that chapter in her life and continues to be well and have a healthy life. For Elliott, that is just who he is and what he does! And it only con rms what a wonderful son-inlaw, husband, father and co-worker he is. You Rock Elliott!! Sedona and Rio are so very proud of their daddy.

New fencing, right, on the Natchez Trace Bridge, above.

Elliot, Larry, Chi

Lauren and Elliot countryreunionmagazine.com

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February 2023


Nadine’s Corner

Well, Y kn , I'll nev und stand pe le's fascinati with the ances y, Isn't kn ing y r c ent family bad en gh? H ’s nephew, E l, came by to help me pick up a lot of limbs that had fallen all nd the h se. He dr e up with that rap music bl ing his c . I p s ally feel rap is to music as an etch a sketch is to t. This b was b n ign ant, and he's been losing nd ev since. He t d me he j ned e of those line dating things, and the e he matched up with was his f st c sin his moth 's side. I tell y , watching that b w k, He's ab t as useful as a bucket und a bull! I knew the family ee didn't have any branches! His daddy, Clyde, was plaining to L s the oth night ab t this religi that believes when y die, y c e back as a diff ent eat e. she said she w ld c e back as a c , and Clyde said, “L s, y obvi sly e not listening!” I tell y e thing, that gal can thr a skillet!

L e ya'll,

Nadine

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Country Music Television Made Difference in Genre’s Growth Stan Hitchcock passed away in early January, and though his name may not immediately recognizable as one among the class of countr y music performers, , if you were a fan of country music you will probably recognize him. Hitchcock was one of the founders of Country Music Television, or CMT. He also headed the Nashville operations for the cable channel for nine years until it was sold to Gaylord Entertainment. But that was just the one of Hitchcock’s contributions to country music. Hitchcock was born on March 21, 1936, in Pleasant Hope, Missouri, near Kansas City. His family relocated to a farm in Spring eld, Missouri, when Stan was four years old. Four years later he made his first appearance on a talent show. By the time he was a teenager, he was regularly performing on local radio stations KWTO and WTTS and working his way to become a full-time musician. He signed with Epic in 1967, and had his biggest hit, “Honey I’m Home,” that notched No. 17 on the country charts in 1969. I n 1982 Hitchcock saw his big opportunity to help give country music its own cable television station. MTV was exploding but virtually ignoring the country music space. So CMT was formed, and by the time it was sold to Gaylord Entertainment in 1991, it was a major country music enterprise.

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After the sale, Hitchcock moved back to the Ozarks to Branson, Missouri, which was burgeoning as its own country music hub, becoming the founder, president and chairman of the cable television channel Americana Television Network, which featured folk, country, gospel, bluegrass and blues. It later became known as BlueHighways TV, and was the host of popular programs such as “Woodsongs.” Some of the programs Stan Hitchcock hosted and helped produce still air on Country Road TV, like “Heart to Heart.” Stan Hitchcock authored a book in 2009 called At the Corner of Music Row and Memory Lane about his life and country music. Hitchcock passed away on January 4 at 86 years old.

February 2023


One-Night-Only Event Honors Jones Musical Legacy Nancy Jones, the widow of George Jones, announced the one-night-only concert event “Still Playing Possum: Music and Memories of George Jones,” to honor the legacy and music of “the greatest country singer of all time.” The special television taping event will take place on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Jamey Johnson, Justin Moore, Lorrie Morgan, Mark Chesnutt, Michael Ray, Sam Moore, Tanya Tucker, Trace Adkins, Tracy Byrd and Tracy Lawrence are amongst the rst artists to be announced as performers with more artists to be announced. Ticket prices will start at $25 and a special VIP upgrade, which includes dinner the night before with Nancy Jones and friends, for $200. “George Jones died on April 26, 2013, in Nashville, Tennessee. It will be ten years since he left us with just his songs, so to produce this night of music to honor his legacy is perfectly tting,” said Nancy Jones. “George made history and in uenced artists from all genres and many of them will celebrate with us in April. The night will bring lots of emotion for the fans, our family, and anyone who just loved Country Music.” Jones is regarded among the most important and in uential

singers in American popular music history. He was the singer of enduring country music hits including “She Thinks I Still Care,” “The Grand Tour,” “Walk Through This World With Me,” “Tender Years” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” the latter of which is often at the top of industry lists of the greatest country music singles of all time. Born in Saratoga, Texas, Jones played on the streets of Beaumont for tips as a teenager. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps before returning to Texas and recording for the Starday label in Houston, Texas. In 1955, his “Why Baby Why” became his rst Top 10 country single, peaking at number four and beginning a remarkable commercial string: Jones would ultimately record more than 160 charting singles, more than any other artist in any format in the history of popular music. His rst number-one hit came in 1959 with “White Lightning,” a Mercury Records single that topped Billboard country charts for ve weeks. He moved on to United Artists and then to Musicor, notching hits including “She Thinks I Still Care,” “The Race Is On,” “A Good Year for the Roses” and “Walk Through This World With Me.”

GeorgeJonesO cial.com

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Jones signed with Epic Records in 1971 and worked with producer Billy Sherrill to craft a sound at once elegant and rooted, scoring with “The Grand Tour,” “Bartenders Blues” and many more. Sherrill also produced duets between Jones and his then-wife Tammy Wynette, and in the 1970s they scored top-charting hits including “We’re Gonna Hold On,” “Golden Ring” and “Near You.” By the time “Golden Ring” and “Near You” hit in 1976, Jones and Wynette were divorced, and Jones was battling personal demons. His solo career cooled until 1980, when he recorded “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” a ballad penned by Curly Putman and Bobby Braddock that helped Jones win Country Music Association prizes for best male vocal and top single. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” revived a agging career, and Jones won the CMA’s top male vocalist award in 1980 and 1981. He also earned a Grammy for best male country vocal performance. He signed with MCA Records in 1990 and began a successful run, and he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1992. His guest vocal on Patty Loveless’ “You Don’t Seem To Miss Me” won a CMA award for top vocal event in 1998, and it became his nal Top 20 country hit.

February 2023


Who was Rita Robbins and where did she go? 10 Years Ago this Month Country Reunion News turned 10 in 2022. We’ve been running articles from 2012 all year and will continue to revisit some of our favorites from a decade ago each month going forward. This month we look back at two country favorites, both born on Christmas.

Rita Marie Winters came into the world in Georgia on Aug. 15, 1932. Country music fans came to know her has Rita Robbins. Her rst stage appearance was at the age of six at a school play. She began her musical journey singing with her family at various U. S. Army camps around Savannah, Georgia during World War II. As a youngster, she would often enter local talent contests. But one in particular probably stands out in her memories. During one contest, for selling U. S. Bonds, her talents helped sell $50,000 worth of bonds. When she graduated from high school, she became an airline stewardess with Peninsula Air Transport. Her work would take her to such cities as Chicago, Detroit, New York, Dallas and Tulsa. Her family had moved to Miami, Florida, around 1949 and her rst television appearance was on a station in Miami. Her father, George Winters, was a disc jockey and band leader with Pop Winters and the Southern Strollers who played all over south Georgia and Florida. He was the one who encouraged her musical career and helped her de velop an "...unusual and infectious style of delivery." Rita did not really start to think about a career as a performer until brother Don Winters did an audition tape for Cameo Records back in 1953. Somebody liked what they heard of her on that

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recording session and signed Rita to the Cameo label. Her rst release for Cameo was "Take A Look At That Moon." Rita and Elvis won Up and Coming Vocalist in 1954 for Cashbox Magazine, and Pee Wee King invited her to his television in 1955. Produced by Chet Atkins, she teamed up with Anita Carter and Ruby Wells, and in 1955, RCA promoted Anita as a pop performer as a part of the short-lived group Nita, Rita & Ruby with Rita Robbins and Ruby Wright (daughter of Kitty Wells a n d Jo h n n i e Wr i g h t ) while also recording Anita as a solo country singer. She also recorded with her brother. Many of Rita's songs can be heard on YouTube. Don who went on to sing with Marty Robbins a s p a r t o f t h e Ma r t y Robbins Trio and had a segment on all of Marty's shows where he sang and yodeled. He was with him until Marty's death.

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February 2023


Rita with The Strollers Country & Western Jamboree spoke favorably of her release on RCA that included the tunes "Don't Take All The Love" b/w "Go Between" and thought it was a toss-up as to which side was the "A" side. Also in 1955, Country & Western Jamboree's Disc Jockey poll ranked her N0. 4 among "Top New Female Singers" behind Myrna Lorrie, Ginny Wright and Betty Amos. The next year, she was named one of the "Top Female Singers.” Rita quit the music business by 1958. She was married several times including to Nashville studio musician Ray Edenton with whom she had a son, Ray, and a daughter, Ronda. She also has sons, Stacy Brown, Frank Zimmerman, Jr, Donald Zimmerman and Steve Zimmerman. Rita died at her Nolensville, Tennessee, home in December 1986. Rita and Chet Atkins Page 21

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February 2023


Renae the Waitress Love

TV shows there.

I love to remember and be thankful for all of the sweet things and people in my life. Of course, my sweetheart of 53 years, Phil and my two sweet granddaughters, Rio and Sedona. Chi always gets double attention and love in February because her birthday is Februar y 17. This year she is lming a movie in Atlanta around her birthday. It will be a birthday she will remember I’m sure…and fun.

GoGut I am getting a lot of good reports f rom folks taking GoGut!! It is great to hear from you. And since I am giving Sedona 25cents from every sale, she is constantly checking sales! Lol In fact I think she is ready to make a commercial. Needless to say, she is feeling great.

Facebook Diner Chat Jimmy Capps’ Sons I am sure everyone has heard about Jimmy Capps’ two sons, Jeff and Mark Capps, dying two weeks apart. We were all stunned and in shock. There is no way to sort out the details, so we are just praying for peace. Je joined us on Diner Chat frequently and posted hellos. And Mark traveled with the Isaacs and recorded numerous albums. He was a very successful studio engineer and will be missed by the whole Nashville entertainment industry.

Although I have had some tech problems with my Diner Chat on Face book…I hope to get them resolved. Keep your ngers crossed.

Becky Issacs Becky Isaacs was injured in a serious automobile accident in December. She under went a successful surgery on her knees and broken ribs. She is well on the way to recovery. But continue to keep her in your prayers.

The Blacks Relocate Larr y and Luann have moved to Columbia, Tennessee, and are getting settled. They are much closer to their sons and grandchildren, which is great!! Columbia is about 45 minutes south of Nashville and a town that is really growing. We have actually taped many of our “Larry’s Country Diner”

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New Book I am excited to have a new book in my book club “King George” by George Strait! I think you are going to really enjoy his book. And of course, last month I added “Me and Sister Bobbie” by Willie Nelson. See my full Book Club list on page 23 of this issue.

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