This year, the Festival is celebrating it's 25th anniversary, and the kickoff concert for the weekend featured the legendary singer, Ray Price.
Here is what my husband Don had to say about this evening -
"A certifiable legendary figure in American country music, Ray Price has always been one of my favorite people to interview in my work as a music journalist, and it has been my privilege to speak with him several times over the years. He has always remembered my name, and he always passed along some of the liveliest stories and thoughtful insights into his personality during conversations that were initially supposed to go for ten minutes or so, but usually ended up lasting closer to an hour.
Considering the fact that his has been one of the most historically significant names not only in country music but American popular music for around six decades – and he helped launch the careers of many other successful entertainers whose names have become equally legendary – I never cease to be amazed that he could be so warm and friendly, so gracious, to what is, after all, just another journalist looking for a story. Maybe it's because he knew I was also a working musician for so long, too.
The last time I spoke with him, he started out by saying, “Now don’t print this, Don, but . . .” And then he told me something I'ill never forget.
He’s told me many things over the years that he didn’t want included in my final stories – his firm political opinions, some religious beliefs, what he really thought of some of the celebrities he has known over the years, his views on the modern state of country music, that sort of thing – and I sensed early on which parts he wanted me to use and which parts I should leave out. And I guess he came to trust me.
Because of his trust, I still can’t divulge what he told me in that conversation. But after just spending an evening at a show featuring him and his music, I’m amazed that he can sing with as much power, as much voice control, as much feeling, as much subtlety as ever.
Some country artists don’t truly deserve to be considered legendary figures. Their private lives become public caricatures of the songs they sing, and their self-destructive behavior is often remembered as long as the words and music they make. Hank Williams is one of those, in my opinion.
But at 86, and with no plans to ever stop performing for the fans, or “wasting the music,” as he expressed it to me, Ray Price definitely deserves the esteem he has earned in his sixty-plus years as one of the most beloved hardscrabble country boys to step up to a microphone and sing a country song.
It was beyond a pleasure to see him perform this evening, it was an honor I’ll always be grateful for."
It was truly a special evening for everyone attending!
To read Don's interview with Mr. Price - check out this link - http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/2012/jun/13/price-to-swing-thursday/
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