of the Fiddle
Actor, Entertainer, Author and Columnist
A leaf of strength
The leaf swayed hanging on to the lonely limb tightly. As if, to say to the world “I am not done and you are not going to make me fall down no matter what you throw at me.” All of its fellow leaves had given up the ghost blowing in whatever direction the wind desired them to go. Some managed to find a resting place at the foot of the majestic oak tree to spend the winter becoming the woodland blanket upon which the rain would fall before soaking into the ground.
My Grandad sat quietly on the porch staring at the leaf bobbing in the wind.
He had come back from a tremendous stroke that took the wind from his earthly sails. The man who seemed would not bend to nothing could now barely lift himself from the chair in which he sat.
On this fall day though spying that lone leaf seemed to fortify him more than anything that anyone had to bolster his spirits. He stared endlessly watching its fight and as the fight struggled on from one day to two, to a week, his personal strength seemed to grow.
He managed each day no matter how the wind blew or what elements forced themselves past the mountain homestead, he walked himself out to the porch to spend some time sitting, later leaning against the porch post, and then standing as upright as the years would allow. He was always looking off towards the oak tree and its one hold out to the whims of the world saying nothing that revealed the focus of his internal thoughts.
As the winter came on strong, he would rise up and with his cane in hand, he eventually walked off the porch and towards that mighty oak tree going as far as he felt comfortable then returning to the porch. With each trip he got closer to his goal and he soon reached the tree looking straight up towards the hanging leaf.
There were a few times he would take one hand lean against the trunk of the tree and with the other lift his cane as far as he could trying to hit the leaf that centered his focus. He was just shy of reaching it and he would eventually tire and return to the warmth of the fireplace inside.
The light covering of snow did not even dissuade him to making his trek to the oak and returning home and with each passing day he grew stronger.
By the first signs of spring, he no longer limited his walking to just the tree and he was taken on even more of the activities that made his day sing around the farm.
It was on a spring day that the tree had refilled all its limbs and the greenery made it full and majestic. Grandad could no longer see the lone leaf from the porch so he decided to make another trek to see what had become of his now old companion who he fought alongside against the world’s elements.
As he reached the tree, he looked upon the ground to find it to no avail so he turned his gaze upward and amongst the lush green leaves there it was – one brown leaf still holding on to its place amidst the green youngsters around it.
Grandad’s face seemed to change as his face fought back the effects of the stroke moved to show a smile.
He raised his cane, almost in a sense of a salute to the lone leaf, then turned and walked down the trail towards the valley store. Emboldened by the lone leaf, he was figuring to hold on to his place in the world and stand as the man he was inside, no matter what nature threw against him.
We need more people in this world who work to overcome what they face finding the inner strength that God placed within each of His creations.
T.G. Sheppard brings together some duets with friends
It’s been nearly 13 years since country legend T.G. Sheppard released his last commercial album, and now he is back and better than ever with Legendary Friends & Country Duets. The star-studded project features collaborations with icons like George Jones, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Oak Ridge Boys, Crystal Gayle, Lorrie Morgan and many more. Legendary Friends & Country Duets, released via Cleopatra Records, is available on iTunes, Amazon, and in music retailers nationwide.
“It was such an honor to have this multitude of iconic artists joining me on this new album. Every singer always looks for validation in their career, and after recording with these legends and friends, I have finally been validated,” said T.G. Sheppard. “Singing with each artist was truly a magical moment in my career.”
The late George Jones collaborates with Sheppard on “It’s a Man Thing,” which happens to be one of The Possum’s final studio sessions.
“This album has so much sentimental value to me,” said Nancy Jones. George’s widow. “Not only because T.G. was a dear friend to George, but also because 'It's a Man Thing' is one of George's last recordings. It's a beautiful project.”
Recently releasing a single to country radio, the smooth track of “100% Chance of Pain,” features vocal contributions from B.J. Thomas and Country Music Hall of Fame member Jimmy Fortune. Each artist brings their own signature style to the song, making it one of the standout tracks from Legendary Friends & Country Duets.
“When T.G. asked me to record on this project, I was honored,” Fortune said. “The song had an Orbison-feel to it, and when I found out that it would feature BJ Thomas, I was even more excited.”
Sheppard, who is credited with 21 number one hits, is featured in the latest online syndicated video series, “The Test Drive,” where T.G. cruises through historic Music Row and talks about his brand new album in the must-see episode.
T.G. Sheppard has always had an unstoppable passion for music. This passion along with 21 number one hits and being ranked as one of the top artists in all of country music, has made him one of the most popular live performers on tour today. It's only natural with a show chock full of chart topping hits like "Last Cheaters Waltz", "I Loved 'Em Everyone"," Do You Wanna Go To Heaven", and "Party Time" that TG has developed a reputation as a solid performer who delivers exactly what audiences want. All this and more combined with a steadfast dedication to entertainment has truly made him one of the great Legends in country music.
T.G. Sheppard's ardor for life and unceasing energy allow him to fulfill his unrelenting passion for music. "Legendary Friends & Country Duets" is the latest means by which he shares that passion with the rest of us. For more information, visit tgsheppard.com.
A mouse in the house
In the valley below the Gravelly Spur sometimes life was lost in the living, but at times circumstances would change that for a while.
Billy Thurston lived in a sharecropper’s house with his mother Alma and father Fred. Although Billy was just eight-years-old, he already had performed almost every task it took to help run the farm and help his parents scrape a meager living on shares.
He plowed and planted, tended to animals, and walked a few paces behind his father as they hunted to add a bit of meat to the table.
Each fall when it came time to cut the corn and tie the stalks together, in the mist the stands of corn stalks looked as if an army had left the field and propped its rifles there.
At this time of year an army of mice which made the field a home would tend to run for the cover of whatever building they could find.
This year Billy’s father told him it would be his job to place the mouse traps around the house and keep them clean of whatever they might catch.
Being mindful of his father, he went about his chore and kept each trap ready and waiting for the next offensive.
One afternoon one of the traps did not hold a dead mouse but one whose leg was caught and broken.
Billy did not have the heart to end the little one’s life. So, he cut some small branches and took a few threads from the ragged area of his overalls and tied upon the mouse’s leg a splint.
Billy carefully carried the gray field mouse to the edge of the cornfield which lay between their house and my Grandma Kitty’s and released it.
After a couple of days, my Grandma Kitty was sweeping off the front porch. As she turned and opened the screen door, in scurried a little mouse which she promptly followed with broom in hand. After quite a chase around the old butcher block table, she finally had the little critter cornered.
As she was about to bring the broom down with all her might, she saw the splint upon its leg. The sight of that little splint reminded her that every life has value no matter in what form it is carried. She could not bring herself to end this one.
She reached down, picked the animal up and carried it to the edge of the corn field to release it.Twice the little mouse got a reprieve. The yellow barn cat Grover was not so kind-hearted.
Karen Peck wins Dove Award, Oaks launch Christmas show
Karen Peck and New River won the Southern Gospel Album of the Year for their newest CD titled Pray Now. The Award was presented at the 46th Annual GMA Dove Awards Ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee on October 13th. Wayne Haun produced the project.
"We are deeply honored and thankful,” Karen said. “Pray Now is a very special album that resonates where we have been spiritually this year. Each song is a statement of faith and encouragement. The Lord sent these songs at the right time in our ministry and we are grateful that they are drawing people to Him. We are blessed beyond measure."
The title cut of the album "Pray Now" hit the number one spot on numerous charts and echoes the feelings of so many people dealing with life's struggles. This is the fourth Dove Award win for the group.
"We know what we do is a calling and it’s about seeing people saved and hearts touched and turned toward the Lord, she said. “That’s the number one goal, but nights like tonight was the Lord encouraging us. Next year will mark the 25th anniversary that Susan and I started this group and we’re so thankful we’re still out here after all these years.”
To learn more about Karen Peck and New River go to http://www.karenpeckandnewriver.com or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Karen-Peck-and-New-River.
Grammy Award-winning music legends, The Oak Ridge Boys, will once again celebrate the Christmas season with timeless hits and holiday classics on their 26th Annual Christmas Night Out Tour, coming to a city near you. The almost two-hour holiday show transports concertgoers into Winter Wonderland with fan-favorite hits and Christmas tunes new and old, beautiful sets, falling snow—and even a special visit from Santa Claus himself.
“There is nothing quite like an Oak Ridge Boys Christmas Show. This tour has become an Oak Ridge Boys tradition and is a tremendous experience for the entire family. With a revamped stage and a fresh approach, this year’s show will be a dynamic mix of music representing every aspect of Christmas from presents and snow, to romance and Santa Claus, on to the real meaning of the season celebrating the birth of Jesus,” said The Oak Ridge Boys’ Joe Bonsall.
Each year The Oak Ridge Boys’ Christmas tour plays to packed houses across America. The 2015 Christmas Night Out Tour will take the group to more than two-dozen cities in nineteen states, from the East to West Coast, mid-November through December 23.
The group — Richard Sterban, Duane Allen, William Lee Golden and Joe Bonsall — have earned prestigious membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame (2015 Inductees) and Grand Ole Opry, among other designations. Known worldwide as one of recording history’s most extraordinary musical successes, they have charted single after single and album after album, celebrating over 41 million records sold, two double-platinum albums, and more than 30 Top 10 hits, including No. 1 chart-toppers “Elvira,” “Bobbie Sue,” “Thank God For Kids,” “American Made,” among dozens more.
The tour begins Nov. 17 in Branson, Mo. For more information on The Oak Ridge Boys, please visit oakridgeboys.com.
Pat Boone and Ray Stevens have a brand some brand new adventures ahead
Pat Boone is expanding his horizons by recording his first ever R&B album. And not one to do things in a small way, he was thrilled to work with some of the genre’s biggest superstars of all time! He has powerful duets with James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Earth Wind & Fire, The Four Tops, and KC & The Sunshine Band plus members of Kool & the Gang, and Sister Sledge and even Hip Hop legend Kool Moe Dee. By joining with Cleopatra Records, this stunning album now has national distribution is available to his legion of fans worldwide.
"This classic, ultimate party record fulfills a career long desire to record with many of my most favorite artists, bringing me back full circle to my first R&B million sellers,” Boone said.
With a career that has spanned over sixty years, Pat Boone has achieved an amazing number of accomplishments. He has been a successful singer, composer, actor, writer, television personality, motivational speaker, and spokesman. He is one of rock & roll’s best-selling artists and has sold over 45 million albums, had 38 Top 40 hits, and appeared in more than 12 Hollywood films. He still holds the Billboard record for charting consecutive weeks by spending 220 consecutive weeks on the charts with one or more song each week. He has hosted his own TV show and has written a number of books including 2 million - plus sellers that have been translated into many languages. Currently, he continues to perform for an audience of millions on both TV and radio, has just completed 2 films. Find the project on Amazon, iTunes and at cleorecs.com.
Singer, songwriter, entertainer and comedian will soon add national television talk show host to his career highlights. The comedy and country music legend announced the premiere of , a regular/weekly 30-minute music show debuting on on , at
"I'm so excited about my new show on RFD-TV!" Stevens said. "It's music from some of Nashville's best writers, artists and musicians and it's full of comedy. Hey, music and comedy... it's what I do and I'm having a ball doing it!"
From the heart of Nashville at the legendary funnyman's Music Row television studio, Ray Stevens' Nashville will spotlight some of country music's most well-known singers and songwriters. The first season will feature appearances and performances from many of Stevens' friends including , , , , , , , and more.
“I hope lots of folks tune in and watch,” he said. “This show is fun to do and I know it’s going to be fun to watch. I get to perform with great musicians and recording artists and get to introduce America to a side of Nashville they may have never seen or known about.”
For more information visit www.raystevens.com or his official Facebook Page.