Cumby native, Lou Ann Petty, left, will play the lead role as Pasty Cline, in "Always...Patsy Cline," produced on
stage at Texas A&M University-Commerce Theater. Meanwhile, Amanda Barrow, right, also of Cumby, is the
understudy for the Patsy Cline part and will conduct her own performance on March 5th.
"A Couple of Cumby Gals to Light-Up
The Stage in
by: Bobby McDonald
It may be just as far from Cumby, Texas, for two gals, as it was for Patsy Cline, as she headed for Nashville and Grand Old Opry, but they've steadily been rehearsing the Pasty Cline favorites, and plan to bring the American Country and Western Sweetheart to the state at Texas A&M University Commerce, in the next two weeks! Cumby natives, Lou Ann Petty and Amanda Barrow, will be portraying Patsy Cline, in Always...Patsy Cline, this year's spring musical at the TAMU-C Theater.Petty will be starring as Patsy in the production and her understudy is Amanda Barrow, also of Cumby, Texas.
"It's great to have such talent as Lou Ann and Amanda, coming to you, when you get ready to stage a production," expressed Jim Anderson, Director of the play. "How often could you have an understudy that can step right in and take over, whenever needed! Both Petty and Barrow are capable of leading the production!"
Lou Ann Petty, no stranger to the stage or to musical venues, has performed in a number of productions at TAMU-C, with her most recent appearance in last year's production of the Hank Williams story. "I'm really excited about this production," exclaimed Petty. "I've always loved Patsy's music and her 'throaty,' low register songs, produced in a sultry tone, fit my voice!"
Patsy Cline had participated in a benefit concert in Kansas City for the family of a disc jockey ("Cactus" Jack Call) who had died in a car accident. Ramsey (Randy) Hughes, Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Cowboy Copas, were all in Hughes Piper Comanche, when it crashed just west of Camden, TN in a hollow along a ridge line in a heavily wooded area known as Fatty Bottom, near a fire tower off Mule Barn Rd. in Sandy Point, about 5 miles west of the Tennessee River. The plane had left Kansas City about 1:30pm. The reported time of the crash varies sometime between 6:20pm and 7:00pm, March 5, 1963. Patsy's watch was reportedly stopped at 6:20pm. Ironically, Jack Anglin was killed in an auto accident on the way to Patsy Cline's funeral. Jack Anglin, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Cowboy Copas, are also buried in this same cemetery.
Meanwhile, Amanda Barrow, a 2008 Cumby High School student and a junior at TAMU-C in speech and communications, is a relative new-comer to the stage. She appeared in last fall's production of The Bird and The Bee, but this is her first attempt at a musical. "I've sang at First Baptist Church in Cumby for practically all of my life," allowed Barrow. "And, I sang with the Northeast Texas Choral Society for one semester, so I kind of knew what to expect. But, it's been a real experience and one that I've enjoyed, getting the tone and developing my voice to sing the Patsy Cline songs! I truly love her music!"
The part of "Louise," Patsy Cline's devoted fan and friend, is played by
Samantha Grace, in a memorable performance.
Always....Patsy Cline, will be staged at Texas A&M University-Commerce, on February 25-27, and March 4-6, at 8:00 p.m., nightly. There will be two matinee performances at 3:00 p.m., on February 28th and March 7th. Tickets can be obtained and reservations made by calling the box office at (903)886-5900.
Anderson allowed that Barrow will do the lead part in the March 5th production at Texas A&M University-Commerce Theater. Ironically, Barrow's performance coincides with the 47th Anniversary of Patsy Cline's death, in a plane crash, as she returned to Nashville, Tennessee, from a venue in Kansas City. The halls of the theater are sure to reverberate with "the ghost" of Patsy, as Barrow sings the famous songs to her audience.
Veteran director, Jim Anderson, serves as the director of
Other cast and crew members for the production include: Antonio Wright, Assistant Director; Renee Caldwell, Stage Manager; Erin Pleake, Assistant Stage Manager; Samantha Grace, as Louise; Cassie Pennington, as the Louis Understudy; Rob McWorther, Quitman, Texas, Rhythm Guitar and Harmnica; Fred Sienbenthall, Honey Grove, Texas, Piano and Band Manager; Hal Wright, Greenville, TX, as drummer; Kelly Connell, Pecan Gap, Tx, Bass; Dan Grobe, Cumby, TX, keyboard and fiddle; and Kevin Eldridge,Wolfe City, TX, on the steel and fiddle.
Mark your calendar for one or more of these performances for an outstanding evening of nostalgia and Patsy Cline music!
Lou Ann Petty, of Cumby, lends her "throaty" voice to the classics
sang by Patsy Cline, as she rose to stardom, in Country and Western music.
Amanda Barrow, of Cumby, lifts her voice in this rendition of one
of Patsy Cline's classic hits, in "Always...Patsy Cline."
REBEL, INNOVATOR, LEGENDARY STAR
by ELLIS NASSOUR
She was an original. Tempestuous. Tormented. Talented. A trail blazer. Triumphant even in defeat. Patsy Cline was one of a kind.
Sadly, just when the best of her life began, it ended: March 5, 1963, when on the journey home to Tennessee, after performing at a benefit, she, her manager Randy Hughes and Grand Ole Opry stars Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas were killed just outside Camden, TN, in the crash of Hughes' four-seater airplane.
For18 years after her death, following the impact of such a great loss to country music and the entertainment world, virtually nothing was written of this unique personality. Now, Patsy has become more famous in death than she was during her lifetime. It seems, the world cannot get enough.
Equipped with little more than raw ambition and talent, Patsy, from her early days in Winchester, VA, and Brunswick, MD, struggled to make a name for herself. As sweet as her music could be, her personal life was as passionate as it was reckless.
Though she died shortly after turning 30, Patsy left behind a rich personal and musical legacy. She has developed cult followings around the world, especially among young fans who are mesmerized by the hurt in her stunning voice.
Born Virginia Patterson Hensley in Gore, Virginia,
a hamlet near Win- chester, in what is called Apple Blossom Country, she possessed from the earliest age a self-assurance that made her believe not only that she could be the best female singer in country music but also that she was. Nothing could daunt her. A saying sprang up about Patsy: "She's not conceited, she's con- vinced."
Her mother, Hilda Hensley, who was also Patsy's best friend, told me she had no idea where Patsy got her talent, that it must have been in her blood. She never had a lesson, but from age eight, when she began singing on street corners and in her church choir, she had the most incredible voice.
Patsy had aspirations of being the youngest star ever on Nashville's Grand Ole Opry. She told anyone who'd listen and sang anywhere they would let her. Of course, the kids at school made fun of her dreams; which made her all the more determined. And she her dream almost came true when, at age 14, she auditioned for the Opry. It was a lost opportunity for many reasons, but Patsy returned home more determined than ever.
So determined, in fact, that she made some costly mistakes, such as allow- ing the older bandleader she worked for (and with whom she was having an affair) to sign her to a self-defeating record deal in the late 1950s. Then, in the male-dominated country arena of that era, she had to constantly struggle to be accepted as a solo female artist. But fight she did, and she won the battle.
Through a national television show, which showcased the talents of budding professionals and amateurs, she won "overnight" stardom with her rendition of "Walkin' After Midnight," a song she absolutely hated and which she was forced to sing - a pattern that recurred through- out her career. The next time she arrived in Nashville, she came as a star, with a hit which was soaring to the top of the country and, in a first for a country female, the pop trade charts. Unfortunately, that was followed by nearly four dry years.
If Patsy could not lay claim to birthing what came to be known as the Nashville Sound, she brought it out of diapers. Not always willingly.
She loved pop and rock music, but preferred to record only country - the hillbilly kind. It took producer Owen Bradley to get her on track. This he did brilliantly in record session after record session, where he broke taboos by adding strings and drums to her tracks. He also tried emerging songwriters, such as Harlan Howard, Hank Cochran and Willie Nelson and, with his background as a big bandleader, introduced Patsy to songs from the 1920s and 1930s, which they redid to amazing contemporary effect.
On the tour circuit, thanks to numerous appearan- ces on TV, Patsy proved a country female artist could draw huge audiences. In today's music world, where just about anything is accepted as melody and where lines are easily crossed or merged, it'is hard to imagine the extreme impact that Patsy and Bradley had on the period. Then, you were country (which usually meant hillbilly), rock or pop.
Patsy changed all that, and was equally at home with recordings that struck a unique balance between being moderately pop and country. Interestingly, she didn't do this willingly. One must credit Decca producer Owen Bradley as the genius behind Patsy's unique voice. He pushed her -- sometimes screaming and fighting! -- into uncharted territories. Patsy did not want to sing ballads and she absolutely did not want to be per- ceived as a "pop star."
Country music was her thing. Even with the massive success she had on the crossover charts, she begrudged the fact that she was having to record pop music. Vocally, she had a majesty and poignancy that many say has never been equaled. She could produce sweep ing high notes and Western yodels; and had the amazing dexterity to switch from a country hoe-down to vintage Irving Berlin or Cole Porter.
As tribute to her incredible popularity and artistry, in 1973, Patsy was the first solo female artist named to the Country Music Hall of Fame. She left behind one of the greatest legacies in music history, a legacy honored with a 1995 Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 1999, Patsy was honored with a star on the Holly- wood Walk of Fame.
She influenced a legion of performers, including Kay Star, Patti Page, Brenda Lee, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Barbara Mandrell, Dottie West and, as evidenced by her enormous hold over k.d. lang and Leeann Rimes, is still having an impact. So much so that, in July 1997, People Magazine named her to their list of The Most Intriguing People of the Century.
Patsy took her crossover appeal to New York's Carnegie Hall, Las Vegas and Los Angeles' Hollywood Bowl, even to the television teen dance show Dick Clark's American Bandstand. She won countless music awards with such landmark hits as "I Fall to Pieces," "Crazy," "She's Got You," "Back in Baby's Arms," "That's How A Heartache Begins," "Why Can't He Be You?" and "Faded Love."
Ironically, though she brought happiness to millions, she had a difficult time finding it in her personal life. Though she and second husband Charlie Dick were deeply in love, as her fame increased they constantly made recriminations against each other. To make matter worse, Patsy was terribly scarred in a near- fatal automobile crash in the summer of 1961 that plagued her with bouts of depression and, she felt, drove Charlie further away from her.
Just as Patsy re-established her place on the charts with "She's Got You" and was contemplating a break from Charlie, fate intervened.
Only three albums were released in her lifetime,
but there were great songs from a session only a month before her death. These have been repackaged in all manner of ways throughout the world.
Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits continues on the Billboard Magazine album charts. "Crazy" is the Number One worldwide jukebox champion.
Outside Winchester, VA, her simple gravesite is marked with a bronze plaque that reads: Death cannot kill what never dies. And, certainly, Patsy Cline is alive to all of us because of her indelible gift of music.