The last time I updated this Home Page was two years ago, so some of you may have written me off – but hopefully not, as I'm still going strong! As I always like to say, "I'm glad to be told that I'm part of history….I just don't want to actually be history!"
A lot has happened in the past couple years, including a bad fall I had at my home on October 30, 2015. I didn't know it at the time, but later discovered I'd actually broken my back. That resulted in a hospital stay, and then an extended stay in a rehab unit.
Prior to the bad fall in 2015 but since I've last updated this page, I taped an episode of "Larry's County Diner", sang at the Nashville Palace for a St. Jude's benefit show, participated in a Midnite Jamboree tribute to George Hamilton IV, traveled to Carthage, Texas, for the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame's annual induction show, and of course performed on the Opry. I also attended a gospel taping by Joey and Rory on September 6, 2016, at their barn. Joey gave me an extended hug after the show that night, and it would end up being the last time I would see her. She was a special friend, and she is greatly missed.
Right before my fall in October 2015 I helped celebrate the Grand Ole Opry's 90th birthday. There are some photos on the "Jan and Friends" page of my website taken with friends at the Opry Backstage Grill and at John A's on October 28, 2015 – just two days before the fall which would put me out of commission for several months.
One of the first events I attended after getting back on my feet again in 2016 was the Webster Public Relations Second Annual Legendary Lunch held on February 8th. It's always an honor to be included among the legends who meet on that occasion to renew old friendships and share special memories.
A surprise birthday party was held for me on March 13, 2016, at Sperry's Restaurant in Belle Meade – definitely one of my favorite places to eat in Nashville. Another great event that same month was the fun and beautiful 50th anniversary celebration held at Fontanel for my friends Buddy and Billie Cannon. I even danced that night…on top of the covered pool there!
Another memory from the spring of 2016 was attending the VetLinx's "Night for Veterans: Salute to Local Heroes" which was held at Rocketown in Nashville. Veteran Bill Robinson, a U.S. Air Force Captain and the longest-held enlisted POW during the Vietnam War, was one of the many guests as well as my longtime friend John Furgess, Past National Commander of the VFW. At that event it was also great to see Veteran Clarence Hawkins, a relative of country singer Hawkshaw Hawkins.
In June of last year, Jeannie Seely asked me to join her on a song titled "We're Still Hangin' In There Ain't We Jessi" that she was re-recording for her new CD titled "Written In Song." I had sang on the original recording back in 1977 with Jeannie and Dottie West. If you go to The Row restaurant in Nashville, on the mural there's a photo of Jeannie, Dottie, and me singing the original version in the studio – and Jeannie and I have both signed it.
For the new version, Jeannie wanted me to adlib a line in the song – you'll have to listen to Jeannie's recording and let me know what you think! In January of this year I attended Jeannie's album release party at 3rd & Lindsley – and yes, I did that line again.
Throughout 2016 I attended several events including a birthday celebration for designer Manuel at his home in June and Lulu's "Country for a Cause" benefit show that month at the Nashville Palace. In July I attended Ricky Skaggs' Bluegrass Night at the Ryman and in August I attended Kelly Lang's show at 3rd & Lindsley. Both are very talented artists – and true entertainers.
One very sad event last year was the passing of Country Music Hall of Fame member and Grand Ole Opry member Jean Shepard on September 25, 2016. I had known Jean since the late 1950s. The night before she passed away, my friend Ron Harman and I sat with Jean for a long time in her hospital room, reminiscing about the wonderful memories that Jean had brought us through the years. I'm so glad we went to visit her that night. There will never be another person like Jean – she was definitely one of a kind.
In October of last year I attended the annual R.O.P.E. banquet and in November a wonderful performance by Mandy Barnett, compliments of David McCormick, at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. It was great to see and visit briefly with Harold Bradley who played guitar that night for Mandy, just like he did many years ago on my sessions.
Also in November I participated in a tribute show for Jean Shepard at the Nashville Palace. That evening I sang in public for the first time in a long time – and I was honored to be singing onstage with friends Jody Miller, Leona Williams, and Jeannie Seely. What a special night to commemorate Jean Shepard's birthday, anniversary, and Opry anniversary. Thanks to Gus Arrendale for his part in that program – and for all he does for country music throughout the entire year.
In December I enjoyed performances by Charlie McCoy, Meagan Taylor, and Jason Coleman at RCA Studio B as part of their annual Christmas program there. I just recently got a chance to sing with Charlie last month for a Swedish documentary that was being taped on Music Row at the Music Mill studio. He is an amazing artist and a longtime friend.
In December I also attended a surprise birthday party for Sylvia at Sperry's. One of the guests that night was the great songwriter and producer Norro Wilson who just passed away earlier this month. He was a dear friend and will be greatly missed.
I was extremely honored to be asked to sing with other Opry members at the Bridgestone Arena on February 8th of this year for a tribute show for Country Music Hall of Fame member and Grand Ole Opry member Randy Travis. What a wonderful evening, and how great to see longtime friends like Dailey & Vincent, Tanya Tucker, Neal McCoy, Garth Brooks, and many others.
This year has found me attending various events here and there – like a wonderful film screening for a documentary about Rose Lee Maphis that was held on April 30th. Rose Lee is one of my favorite people – and it was fun seeing other friends there that night like Irene Mandrell and her mother Mary, Buddy and Billie Cannon, Lisa Sutton and her dad Casey Anderson, Thom Bresh who is Merle Travis' son, J. Buck Ford who is Tennessee Ernie Ford's son, and Jody Maphis who is Rose Lee's son. On Easter Sunday of this year, I enjoyed a relaxing dinner with Bud and Nina Harman from Pennsylvania and their family members at the Anchor High Marina in Hendersonville.
On June 3rd I helped celebrate the 50th Opry anniversary of Stu Phillips and I enjoyed catching up with Stu and his lovely wife Aldona at the Opry – as well as meeting new General Manager Sally Williams and saying hello to all the Opry artists, musicians, and friends. By the way, congratulations to Crystal Gayle and to Dailey & Vincent on becoming the newest members of the Opry earlier this year. I know you will represent it well, and we are proud to have you as part of the Opry family!
On June 5th I attended the annual "Country for a Cause" benefit concert at the Nashville Palace which Scott Sexton does such a wonderful job organizing and Lulu Roman does such a fantastic job hosting. I really enjoyed catching up with all the artists on that show, and there are photos posted on my "Jan and Friends" page.
Speaking of Lulu, I want to extend a huge "thank you" for her role in me being inducted into the Missouri Walk of Fame on April 29th of this year. Although I couldn't be there in person, Lulu was there to accept the honor for me. Thanks also to Nicholas Inman and everyone at the Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival held in Marshfield, Missouri. Please know that the Missouri Walk of Fame plaque means a great deal to me, and that I am very honored and grateful.
On June 3rd I stopped by the Midnite Jamboree to say hello to Mark Willis who was hosting the show that night, and on June 17th I stopped by to see Mary Sarah who was hosting. Both are talented artists, and I applaud and thank them for remembering and saluting our military and veterans. I also thank David McCormick for his part as well – and for carrying on the tradition of the Midnite Jamboree.
Well that pretty much brings me up to date. As Jeannie Seely recently said, "I just got used to writing '2017' – and now it's already half over!"
Please take the time to tell those you care about that you love them, and please remember to always stop and smell the roses. Also – always "remember the good" and don't forget that "every day is a gift." Thanks for being my friends and fans through the years. I am extremely humbled and appreciative.
I'm almost ashamed to start this because it's been so long since my previous update...but since you're reading this, hopefully you haven't totally given up on me. Thank you for your patience and loyalty. I'll probably be skipping around, some will be in the past tense, and some in the future…hope you won't mind.
Recently I spoke with one of the nicest people I know, David McCormick, the owner of the Ernest Tubb Record Shops. With all of the modern technology, and people downloading everything for free, I'm sure it's hard to keep the stores open, and what a shame. This is History, people. I wouldn't blame David if he closed the doors, but what a shame if he had to. The first time I appeared on a stage in Nashville was on the Midnight Jamboree, which was broadcast from the downtown store on Broadway. That was in 1959, and I was introduced by Ernest Tubb himself. I will never forget that night. That same weekend I made my first appearance on the Opry as a guest, and was introduced by my music idol, Ray Price...that was fifty six years ago.
Here it is late May, and I'm sitting here in a warm up suit and sweater, but I like it. I don't know what's happening to the weather, but I'll leave that up to God. He does a good job of handling everything else, so I'm sure He will manage this as well.
Yesterday I was privileged to speak in Lynchburg, TN at their Memorial Day service, and even though there were a few drops of rain, it did not dampen the spirits of those who attended the service on the Courthouse Square to pay tribute and say thank you to all of our military, past and present, who have served, fought, and died for the freedom of this country. Freedom, which sometimes is taken for granted. Someone once said to me," the trouble with this country is, we no longer have any John Waynes, we don't have any more heroes". Trying to hold my anger, I looked at her, and said "you're right, there are no more John Waynes, but he was a fictional hero, an actor. If you want to see real heroes, go visit a Veterans Hospital, a Veterans Home or a National Cemetery where many were laid to rest. Or if you see a person in uniform anywhere – the airport, the grocery store, or wherever – just say "Thank You". I read a quote somewhere that read, "we were young, we have died, remember us". I think it was written from a book on the Civil War...so little to ask, so much given.
I loved Lynchburg. One day, when I have a little more time, I'd like to go back and visit with the people who made me feel so welcome, but I had to leave immediately to drive back to Nashville, and get here in time for the service at the National Cemetery where my son Jimmy is buried. Arriving there, I noticed cars were leaving, not driving in…the service had been canceled due to the rain…only the second time ever that this had happened. Like I said earlier, God handles the weather, and you just don't mess with God. He has a reason for everything.
Twice in the past few months I've had the pleasure of going back to my hometown of West Plains, Missouri for a special occasion…once was last December 13th when the Jan Howard granite plaque was put in place on the square…where hopefully it will remain for many years. Standing there looking at the plaque, I thought about my sister, Tiny, and her husband, Freddie, who had been my refuge many times, and wondered what they would think. Tiny had a great sense of humor, and I couldn't help but remember what she said when the Jan Howard Expressway was dedicated. She said, "I've lived here all my life and I don't even have an alley"…she was joking (I think), but I said, "you can have one lane of my expressway, as you deserve it more than I do"…and I meant it, she did.
That night was the lighting of the Christmas tree, and carol singing by the Children's choir. It was cold as all get out so the ceremony didn't last long, but it was beautiful.
The next day was the Christmas Parade. I dressed as warm as I could with what I brought, and bought, and in my Santa hat, and ear muffs, headed out for the pickup truck which awaited me, Santa Claus, and two other brave souls. Yes, we were riding in the back, but by the time the Parade was over, we were all good friends…body heat beats a blanket any time…well, adds to it anyway.
The following day after visiting the cemeteries where loved ones were buried, I turned onto Jan Howard Expressway and headed north by way of Hwy 63 back to Nashville. After a few reflective moments, I turned on the radio to Sirius XM and guess what was playing – "Evil On Your Mind". Guess what was next – Porter Wagoner's "Green, Green Grass of Home". Ironic, huh.
Fast forward to May 12th: When I was in West Plains for the Christmas Parade, and during a meeting with several members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Welcome Center, we discussed the possibility of a "mini museum" there. The location and the facility were both perfect. They "took the bull by the horns" and went from there. The culmination of it all took place on May 13th, 2015. With the hard work and dedication of a lot of people, the new Ozark Heritage Welcome Center is now open to welcome people traveling N/S/E and W, not just for road maps, but a taste of the hospitality of The Ozarks.
Thanks to Michael McClure, a very talented artist, who donated his talent to paint a mural on one whole wall of the building, depicting West Plains' native artists in, as they say, the prime of their careers against the backdrop of the beautiful Ozark landscape. Also in that area, there are glass cases which contain mementos, costumes, and other items loaned by the artists or their families: Bill Virdon, Preacher Roe, Dick Van Dyke, Porter Wagoner, and Jan Howard. I am so honored to be a part of this project. Again though, I can't help but wonder what Tiny would say, especially if she had seen me and the manager of the center, Darley Eagleman, trying to put together the mannequin that was to hold my costume….it kept falling apart; arms and legs falling everywhere. By some miracle though, the costume fit perfectly, even the shoes...meant to be, I call it. If you're in the area, please stop by, and tell em' Jan sent you.
I neglected to tell you right at the beginning of this part of the Home Page that my friend Shannon McCombs went with me on this recent trip for several reasons – for company, to help drive, and because she remembers her father telling about his drives through Missouri and she had never been in this part of the great USA before. Best of all, she's my friend. She is also a great journalist, and writes articles and does interviews with really IMPORTANT artists. She's on Facebook…check her out. Also, it's thanks to Shannon that the great pictures of the trip and the event are on her page, my page and Heaven only knows where else.
Time for another break from writing. Besides, I think an M&M thief has been in my house. I bought a large package and now can't find em'.
Okay, back to this "work in progress".
On the way to West Plains, about fifty miles east, I decided to take a side trip to Birch Tree, a town of about 600, where we had lived when I was six or so, and where my brother, Bob, was born. Lots of memories.
Driving into town, the building facing us was what I remembered as the Drug Store. Sitting on the steps out front was a man who looked like he had been etched in time, and just placed in that picture. He belonged there. What I remembered as a drug store was now a bar, and this man, who introduced himself as R.D Smotherman, was the owner. There was one lone car out front, which drove away as we drove up. Mr. Smotherman said that was the newspaper person. As I got out of the car, he stood up, smiling, and he said, "I know you". Seems he watches Country Family Reunion all the time. I introduced him to Shannon, and little by little told him the reason we had stopped by. About that time his son Dale came out and we were invited inside…memories came flooding back to when I was six and had been taken to the drug store because a car door had been slammed on my hand, and I was screaming bloody murder. I don't know if it was a doctor, pharmacist, or veterinarian, but someone poured Merthiolate on my hand and it burned like crazy. I guess that was the cure all of the day.
Another memory was of my father, who was a stone and brick mason, building the first jail, which, when he got the walls partially up, and to keep me from playing in the cement and mud, he put me inside to keep me out of his way. Several years ago I was told it had been torn down. Turns out, that was wrong…it was still there, about a block or so from where we were. Mr. Smotherman drove, and we followed, to a place right off the road that was all grown up with small trees, brush, weeds, and probably lots of varmints, inside of which you could barely see was a small building. I recognized it immediately as my playhouse, the jail. There was a fence around the property so we couldn't get very close, but in the pictures that Shannon took, if you look real close you might see a little girl all messy with mud and cement, helping her father build the jail.
After more great conversation and hospitality from the Smothermans, we continued on to West Plains where the dedication of the Mural was to take place the next day,
A quick off the subject story here: After a quick turn around the square, we headed out to the restaurant that had been recommended to us, had our meal and headed back to the motel. Now I was born here, right? There was no way I could get lost...not in West Plains! Well I was wrong...but after four illegal U turns we finally checked into the Holiday In Express, said hello, goodnight, and "see ya later".
I sure am skipping around a lot...sorry about that. I would try and correct everything, but afraid I might erase this whole thing….
The next day was about as close to perfect as you could ask for…the weather was great, the parking lot at the Welcome Center was full of a lot of old and new friends including dignitaries, officials, and some family members and representatives of those depicted in the Mural. I hope everyone else was as honored as I was to be a part of this day, and a part of the history of West Plains, Missouri.
I can't end this Home Page without saying how much I miss my friends who have passed away from this earth to join other loved ones on Heaven. I know I will see them again. Thank you God.
This coming Monday, June 1st, I'm so looking forward to guesting on Larry's Country Diner. I don't know the airing time, but will let you know as soon as I do. Please click onto the Jan Howard Artist Facebook Page for more details later on that.
And please check out my Artist Facebook Page and the "Jan and Friends" page of this website for photos of the events and activities that I've been part of since I last wrote an update to this page. Those included trips to Norway and England where I performed, and to several other places as well.
Thank you for your friendship and your loyalty "Through The Years"!
Love you, Jan
When I saw the date above, it made me realize just how long it's been since my last Home Page message....and I'm very ashamed of that!! Well, today is a "brand new day" - May 2, 2012. I'm not gonna start by making lame excuses for my tardiness....I don't have any....so here it goes with my new letter and update!
I was trying to figure out just where to start, and I came up with a great idea (I think). How about coming with me as I take a trip back in time....not too far, just a couple years or so, and we'll see where it takes us. I may actually start in the present....that way, if I get lost and forget where I'm going, I can always come back to the beginning....how's that? Ready??? Remember though, when I say "been there, done that"....I really have.
Today is a beautiful day in Nashville, Tennessee. The sun is shining and it's almost eighty degrees....perfect golf weather, but due to some serious oral surgery not long ago, I had to cancel. My teammates are probably thankful....I haven't played in months and don't know any new jokes, so it's just as well. But I want to thank Don Ellis and the folks at Special Olympics for inviting me again this year. It will be the first time I've missed in several years, but I will send my support in the way of a check which I know will be put to good use.
Before I go any further, I'd like to tell you about a very exciting trip coming up on May 14th....NORWAY! Yes, Norway, for twelve wonderful days. I don't hesitate to say "wonderful" because I've been there several times before. You may remember me telling you about Aslak Gjennestad....he's the young man from there whose recordings I put my voice on a few years ago...."Daddy Sang Bass" for one. And believe it or not, it wasn't until we were in the studio recording the song that Aslak found out that I was the original "mama sang tenor" on the Johnny Cash record. Another coincidence....that day was forty years to the day that John's record was No. 1. At that time we joked around about us doing some shows together. Then later - and after a lot of emails back and forth - the joking around got serious....and now it's a done deal. Another plus, Ron Harman, who along with being a friend of mine is also a friend of Aslak, is going with me. I guarantee, well before we leave, Ron will have everything mapped out....he'll know all the places to go and things to see, as he does that for his own trips which he takes frequently. For the show dates and locations, please click the "On the Go" page on my website or go to www.AslakGjennestad.com. I understand the weather there is about the same as it is here....so come go with us! Now, if I can learn a little Norwegian....
Now let me go back a ways to somewhere in 2010....I know some of these things are probably "old hat" to you, but just come along with me if you will. Most everyone knows that I appreciate good talent...in fact, I am a fan. Several times over the past couple years I've had the opportunity to see some great shows at the Ryman Auditorium. Just to name one act, Dailey and Vincent....what a show! Unbelievable harmonies, comedy, the works....never a dull moment, and I could go on and on. And also Don Williams....he sang for two hours. Every song he sang was a hit, and he wrote many of them. We got plenty of leg exercises also because after each song (and in between), he received standing ovations. Amazing. Same thing with Kris Kristopherson. And one of these days I'd like to see Bill Anderson's "An Evening With A Legend" show. Same thing there....pure talent.
When Jeannie Seely, Helen Cornelius, Jean Shepard, and I work together, you just never know what's gonna happen - on or off the stage. We've all been friends for so long and it's always great to share the same stage together. This particular time was in Wyoming, Rhode Island, at a fair there on August 15, 2010.
It's always a nice surprise to answer the phone and hear the voice of someone you admire and respect on the other end....like I did one morning in early September 2010. It was Brenda Lee. I know Brenda, but we don't talk that often, so I knew there was a specific reason. Turns out she had been asked to speak at a Ladies of Charity event on September 18th....she said she couldn't be there and asked if I could fill in for her. While I was thinking of all the reasons why I would not qualify, she just said, "you'll be great....they'll love you" and gave me the number to call. That was the end of that. I figured she either was confident that I could do it, or had run out of numbers, so I said "I'll do my best". The first (and smartest) thing I did was to call Ben Hall, a great musician and singer, and Diane Berry, a wonderful singer, musician, and writer and ask for their help. After finding out that I was to speak and sing for forty-five minutes, we all got together, planned out the show, rehearsed a bit, and showed up ready to give it our all. I've already written too much, but I would like to say that it was truly a wonderful evening. The audience could not have been nicer....I just hope they had as much fun as we did. Nervous is a very small word to describe what my stomach was going through before the show though, considering that The Ladies Of Charity is the world's oldest faith-based volunteer organization in existence, and it's a Catholic group....and oh, did I mention that I'm Methodist? But they were great, and before the evening was over they were all singing along and clapping their hands, just like Pentecostals.
Skipping ahead, the Opry House re-opened, the Ryman stage got a new stage floor (except for part that they retained)....everything seemed to be new and shiny - except me. Maybe that's one reason I like the song "Take Me As I Am" so much.
The first weekend in October 2010, I once again headed for Victoria, Texas, to play in the Bluebonnet Youth Ranch Golf Tournament which benefits many abused and neglected children taken by the courts. The Bluebonnet Youth Ranch exists totally on private funds, and the tournament plays a big financial part. My game is seriously average, but as long as they invite me I will do my best to go....and I'm always thankful for the privilege.
Another great R.O.P.E show was held on October 7, 2010, with Moe Bandy entertaining. Until that night I had forgotten what a fantastic entertainer he is. For years he hosted his own golf tournament in San Antonio, Texas, which I and a lot of others looked forward to playing in....always first class. He mentioned one time about possibly having another one....I hope so. In addition to the proceeds going to a well-deserving charity....what a wonderful place to get great Mexican food.
I hosted the Midnite Jamboree on October 23, 2010, and much of the rest of that year just seemed to disappear before my eyes....birthdays (Cole turned four), Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas....where did it all go? Thanksgiving was full of just that, giving "thanks" for our many blessings. Christmas was quiet and beautiful....a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the new one fast approaching.
On November 20, 2010, Jeannie Seely and Gene Ward exchanged their wedding vows. Everything about the day was beautiful. The wedding was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. and at 10:00 that morning, my phone rang....it was Jeannie. After she assured me that, no, she wasn't changing her mind, she wanted to remind me of something. A few days before, she had asked if I would do the toast before they were to cut the cake....and she wanted to make sure I knew that it was to be a toast, not a roast. "But", I said, "it might be a stretch, considering how long we've known each other....and after you first called, I gathered all of my thoughts about what I was going to say....and forgot where I put 'em!"....like she needed one more thing to worry about that day.
March 26, 2011, brought with it my great-granddaughter Ali's first birthday....along with my 40th Opry Anniversary and the Midnight Jamboree. I can't begin to express my thanks to everyone who went way above and beyond the call of friendship to make that an unforgettable night. David McCormick, owner of the Ernest Tubb Record Shops, gave me a special lapel pin designed to commemorate the event....and there were so many congratulatory messages, emails, and flowers. I was overwhelmed, and what could be printed out, I kept. I couldn't sleep for a week.
On April 6, 2011, I flew to Plano, Texas, to work a date for Tracy Pitcox, and to record a song I wrote, "It's All Over But The Crying", for a Kitty Wells tribute album. I was honored to be a part of this project, but I told Justin Trevino, who was producing the album, that he'd need to lower the key since Kitty had recorded it forty-five years ago....and that everything gets lower with age. While in Texas I also did a duet with Justin on "Gold Watch and Chain" for his album. One evening I got to spend time and have dinner with Darrel and Mona McCall....it was great sharing "road" stories of years ago. And to make that trip complete I was honored to do a show with Pretty Miss Norman Jean and Jean Shepard. Seeing and hearing them that night....the years had been erased.
I have a dear, life-long friend, Rob Atkins, who lives in San Diego....and we have literally known each other all of our lives. In fact, on my website photo page there is a picture of a little girl about eight, with thin stringy bangs, holding a basket of vegetables, and a woman, whom I called "Mama Akkie", holding another one. That is me and Rob's mother. In my book, "Sunshine and Shadow", there is a whole lot more about that summer and the years afterward. But to get back to my story, Rob and I have kept in touch all these years....and many times he'd say "when are you coming to San Diego?" So one day I just made a reservation and sent him a copy. The whole trip was wonderful, relaxing, and fun. I had forgotten how beautiful San Diego is. One day we took the train to Los Angeles, and the subway on to Hollywood to the Musso & Frank Grill, circa 1919....the oldest Restaurant in, as Rob would say, the big H. It was just like stepping onto a movie set, and we were the actors. And to make the cast complete, we were joined by Jany and Chuck Davenport, very dear friends of Rob who live in LA. I liked them immediately....but there was nothing about them not to like. The next day we drove up to Newport Beach and had lunch with Rob's daughter, Dana, whom I had never met but immediately felt like I knew....another beautiful day. The following day was spent just talking, watching movies, and relaxing or doing nothing. That was the best. When we end our phone conversations, we always say, "talk with you later"....never goodbye. By the way, Rob will always be "Bobby" to me. I've always said that old friends are the best....of course that isn't always true, but in this case, it definitely is.
This Home Page message is beginning to resemble a book....I have to move along. In June I took part in the Porter Wagoner Memorial Fishing Tournament....and believe it or not - thanks to my partner, Butch Obert, and his instructions on how to be an "angler" - I caught two bass. No, they weren't keepers, but they weren't bait either. The day was capped off with entertainment by the one and only Bobby Bare, and you don't get any better than that.
The R.O.P.E show on June 8, 2011, was a "one of a kind" show....all award-winning duets - Jack Greene & Jeannie Seely, Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius, David Frizzell & Shelly West, and Bill Anderson & Jan Howard. Plus, Harold Hawkins, Jr., son of Jean Shepard and Hawkshaw Hawkins....he was so great. The audience was wonderful and we had a ball.
June 16, 2011, was the beginning of another wonderful trip. During one of the previous "Country's Family Reunion" tapings, Larry and Luann Black, Emy Jo and Keith Bilbrey, Jimmy and Michele Capps, and I were sitting together on the lunch break. I really don't remember how the subject of Montana came up, but Larry and Luann have a home there, and before the day was over the other five of us were invited to go spend a few days with them in one of the most beautiful places in the good ole USA - Red Lodge, Montana. It was a dream come true for me. Maybe it's my Indian heritage, but I love the mountains, and I love the real west. We were actually on the plane before I believed we were really going. The next five days flew by. I did everything I could to inhale the scenery and the beauty of this wonderful part of our country. I did not want to leave. If I'm making you envious, it's okay....just go for a visit....but be careful though, as you may catch yourself checking out the "For Sale" signs before you leave. Larry and Luann's home and hospitality were unforgettable. The friendship shared was priceless. And I will always consider this trip to be one more of God's many blessings.
I have been a fan of the Oak Ridge Boys since I first saw them on the Dinah Shore television show....if I'm not mistaken they sang "Ya'll Come Back Saloon". Everything about their music and their lives has always been in great taste and with dignity. August 6, 2011, marked another great day in the world of country music as the Oak Ridge Boys were inducted as the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry. What a night!
I may be getting some of the dates confused, but that just fits in with the rest of my life! I worked a date in Manistee, Michigan , and another in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Then I decided to drive to a date in Southern, Ohio....but that was a wrong decision. Twice, OnStar sent me fifty miles in the wrong direction. They didn't even have Louisville, Kentucky, on their map. I finally decided to just forget my destination, and enjoy the scenery along the way....but I did suggest to that OnStar operator that she might want to consider changing occupations.
Being a part of the "Country's Family Reunion" tapings is not something I take for granted. One called "Second Generations" took place on October 17, 20111, and was named appropriately, because many there were the children of so many of our friends who had passed way too soon. Ronnie Robbins, Georgette Jones, Dean Smith, Dean Miller, Charlie Rich, Jr., Michael Twitty, Robyn Young, Harold Hawkins, Jr., Shelly West, and several others were there....If you had your eyes closed when these "kids" were singing, it was like hearing once again the voices of Carl Smith, Faron Young, Roger Miller, Tammy Wynette, Marty Robbins....as Buck said, it was "Crying Time". October 19th was the "Old Time Gospel" taping, and I was so honored to be a part of that day....hopefully I'll be invited back.
I had thought about recording another CD, but somehow just couldn't get everything and everyone on the same page....so maybe it wasn't meant to be....and if it is, it will be. Many have asked about the status of my box set....mainly (since it was a limited edition of 1000) they want to know how many are left. Well, to be honest (and I hate to even write this number) I only have six, which I will keep. That is a nice compliment because it means that it has been well received. BUT...I have found a printer who can do reprints if the cost isn't too prohibitive....so I'm still working on that. Again, if it's supposed to be, it will be. Another idea I'd like to share, and one which the printer likes, is to put things I have written - poems, thoughts, short stories, etc. - into book form. I'd like to do this....if I can just get caught up on everything else. Maybe God will give me two lifetimes....or maybe an extra-long one.
I hate to end anything on a down note, but along about the latter part of October 2011 I had a few health problems. First it was dental bone grafts, which require surgery and are very painful. Then, around the last of November, since I was doing pretty well, Ron Harman and I made reservations to go to the Glen Campbell concert at the Ryman on December 3rd. But come that night, Glen had to cancel due to throat problems. It was rescheduled for January 3rd which I wrote down in my date book in ink. I had known Glen since the early sixties, and really wanted to see his concert, especially since he was having health issues. The next morning (December 4th) I got up bright and early and went Christmas Caroling with the AFTRA (American Federation of Radio and Television Artists) group. That night I went to an assisted living home to join several other artists doing some Christmas songs. Well....to make a long story longer, in the middle of the show I started having burning pain in my back, my left side, and lower abdomen, and had to leave. I won't go into further details, but yes, I HAD THE SHINGLES! (even though I'd had a shingles shot). For the next six weeks I was house - and almost bed - bound. I have never been so miserable in my life. Christmas, New Year's, and every other day went by in a fog. I knew if I didn't die, it was bound to get better....which it did around the middle of January. I had worked the first three Grand Ole Opry cruises several years ago, and I had been invited to work the one leaving New Orleans on January 28th....so I was determined (with God's help) to get better....the cruise was just the incentive that I needed.
The departure city for the cruise was the beautiful city of New Orleans. Naturally, most of us, if not all, went down the day before. That evening, Ron Harman, Steven Whitson, Tim and Roxanne Atwood, and I strolled and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the French Quarter. I think Ron posted a few pictures on the "Jan and Friends" page. The ship was the Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas. Everything about it was first class and beautiful....yep, this was gonna be a fantastic cruise! As I was unpacking, I thought "maybe I spoke too soon"....I had left my favorite pajamas in the hotel in New Orleans...oh well. The following three days were nonstop activities, but fun. And it was great seeing people (friends and fans) that I hadn't seen in years. Ralph Emery was the emcee for all the shows, plus he shared his memories of country music over the many years....and I was proud to have my name listed along with Jeannie Seely, Jean Shepard, Mandy Barnett, and T.G. Sheppard. The band - Glen Dickerson, Stu Basore, Deanna Johnson, Tim Atwood, Penn Pennington, and Kenny Sears were wonderful. And, to have Dawn Sears, one of the most beautiful voices in ANY music, singing background was such an honor. The second day was rehearsal and performance day for Jeannie, Jean, and me. Everything went great....I think. I say that because by the time I got back to my room, I was deathly ill. I barely remember going to the ship's emergency clinic where I ran into several others who had the same thing. In fact I heard that four ships were affected by the same virus. I think the name for "it" was the NoroVirus, but I had no intention of it staying around long enough for us to become BFF. Thank God it didn't, and the last few days I was able to rejoin the living....as long as they didn't move too fast.
Since returning home I've had one more major oral surgery, but I'm going tomorrow for the final checkup. I've observed another birthday and my 41st Opry anniversary just slid right on by. I'm ready to play some golf and do whatever else sounds like it will be fun. Spring has now sprung upon us in all its glory! The flowers are all in bloom and allergies are in full swing.
Take care everyone. May health and happiness be yours in abundance!
Love and Friendship Always,
Well if you look at the date of the previous Home Page message, you’ll see it is December of 2008, a year and a half ago….so obviously this update has been a long time coming. Please accept my apology for the delay, and I’ll try to do better going forward. There’s no real excuse except that time seems to keep going faster and faster.
One of the highlights of early 2009 was the opportunity to sing on a recording by my friend Aslak Gjennestad from Norway. Aslak recorded the Johnny Cash hit “Daddy Sang Bass, and he asked me to contribute the “mama sang tenor” part as I did on Johnny’s original recording…..which was No. 1 on the country charts exactly 40 years from when we re-recorded it on February 9, 2009, at Soundshop Recording Studio on Music Row. That same month, Aslak and his wife Marie and daughter Anniken joined Helen Cornelius, me, and several others to enjoy a fun night of bowling at Donelson Lanes. I hadn’t bowled in years, but I still had my bowling ball and used it that night. I don’t know about the rest of them, but my average hadn’t changed…twice in twenty years.
I was fortunate to witness several special events in March 2009, including Ray Price’s performance on the Grand Ole Opry. I thoroughly enjoyed Eddie Stubbs’ “Intimate Evening” at the Hall of Fame with his guest Bobby Bare, a longtime friend of mine as many of you know. I also enjoyed attending the Midnite Jamboree which Helen Cornelius hosted....with our friend Ryan Ogrodny as her guest. Ryan also played the fiddle at “The Stars Go Blue” benefit for colon cancer at the Hall of Fame that I attended. There were great performances that night by Vince Gill and his wife Amy Grant, Hal Ketchum, Jamie O’Neal, Charlie Kelley, and Ricky Skaggs.
At the end of March 2009 I celebrated my 39th anniversary as an Opry member, and it’s still an honor each time I stand in that center circle. That same night I also hosted the Midnite Jamboree with guests Michele Capps and Anita Stapleton. The audience loved them and so did I. That would be the last time I would see Jean Wood from River Forest, Illinois....Jean would travel down every time I hosted the Jamboree. She’d been a fan and a friend for many years, and I was deeply saddened when she passed away on July 13, 2009. When I hosted the Jamboree in October of last year, I dedicated the show to Jean.
On April 20, 2009, I participated in Don Ellis’ Golf Tournament. Also that month I took a fun trip to New York City with friends Jeannie Seely, Carolyn McClain, and Ron Harman. It was a fun trip. We attended the new Broadway musical “9 to 5”, and Dolly herself was there that night. She didn’t perform but came onstage and said a few words to the audience before the curtain rose. We also had a wonderful dinner in Central Park’s Tavern On The Green restaurant which I was sad to learn closed at the end of last year. I have a cookbook collection so, needless to say I purchased one of theirs. We also took the NBC Studio tour, visited Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and rode the boat over to the Statue of Liberty which we got to go up. For some reason at the airports and Statue of Liberty, security officers picked me for their special security searches....so that became a running joke. I think there’s several pictures of our trip on the Jan and Friends Page. It was treat just to be a tourist…..gonna try that more often…and soon.
On May 2nd I performed at a show in Bastrop, Louisiana. The people were great and I had a good time till it was time to go to the airport the next morning. Now I’ve flown for many years....but ever since a really turbulent flight years ago, I am now a certified “white knuckle flyer”. And when I turned on the TV and saw the tornado warnings, I had no qualms about cancelling my flight. Instead, I had a nice lunch, went shopping and booked a flight later that afternoon. By that time it was blue skies all the way. Good decision.
On May 6th I attended the “Always, Patsy Cline” musical starring Mandy Barnett at the Ryman, and it never ceases to amaze me how much she sounds like Patsy. Later that month I participated in the Phil Harris Golf Tournament in Linton, Indiana. I just recently returned from participating in the same tournament this year, and will mention that later. In June I performed at the Ozarks Homecoming Memorial Concert for Mark Sallings in my hometown of West Plains, Missouri. Two days of good people and great music. While there I was also honored to be the first recipient of the Ozarks Heritage Award. There was supposed to be another three day festival this year, but a scheduling conflict got in the way. Hopefully it will happen later this year. In June I did a show in Porterfield, Wisconsin, as well as an Opry Legends Fest Show in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with Bill Anderson, John Conlee, Jack Greene, Stonewall Jackson, Jean Shepard, and host Keith Bilbrey.
After participating in an annual family get together on July 4th, I attended the Midnite Jamboree that night for the Browns’ 50th anniversary of the release of their classic hit “The Three Bells”. It was so great to once again hear those wonderful harmonies by Jim Ed and his sisters Bonnie and Maxine, and I congratulate them on such a wonderful milestone. My congratulations also went out last year to new Country Music Hall of Fame members Roy Clark, Barbara Mandrell, and Charlie McCoy....and this year to new members Ferlin Husky, Billy Sherrill, Don Williams, and Jimmy Dean....who we sadly just recently lost. I was honored to be on Roy Clark’s segment when he performed on the Opry on July 18th of last year.....and then again just last month.
On August 1st I was honored to sing with the group Live Issue from Ireland when they were guests on the Midnite Jamboree hosted by George Hamilton IV. Also in August I attended a reception for the opening of the new Brenda Lee exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and I attended my great-grandson Cole Simpson’s second birthday party. At the end of August, Ron Harman and I made a visit to Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright to wish Kitty a happy 90th birthday. Kitty and Johnny were married over 71 years at that time (over 72 years now), and they have been my friends since I first moved to Nashville in 1960….they are a special couple for whom I hold the highest respect and admiration. I also made a visit to the Wilson County Fair and along with partaking in some great “fair food”, I also got to listen to Anita Stapleton sing. Anita had been my guest on the Midnite Jamboree back in March, and that night at the fair Michele Capps and I joined Anita onstage to sing “I Saw The Light”.
On August 16, 2009, I did a show at the Havelock Country Jamboree in Havelock, Ontario, Canada, with Jean Shepard, Jeannie Seely, and Helen Cornelius and on September 5th, the same group of us performed at the Little Nashville Opry in Nashville, Indiana. Just two weeks later we were very saddened to learn that the Little Nashville Opry was destroyed by fire. Our thoughts and prayers were with the owners and all the fans who attended the shows there. I haven’t heard if they plan to rebuild, but sure hope so.
In October I attended R.O.P.E.’s Annual Banquet and Awards Show, and also hosted the Midnite Jamboree again. My special guest was Aslak Gjennestad from Norway who had just released his new CD “Keep On The Sunny Side” containing the song “Daddy Sang Bass” which I sang on when he recorded it earlier in the year. We did the song together on the Jamboree that night and had a lot of fun. But what made that night really special was a surprise visit from my longtime friend Bobby Bare. He is such a huge star in the Scandinavian countries, and earlier that day I had mentioned to him that there would be about forty Norwegians in the audience....he said “well, I might just show up”....and he did. Sheldon Olson from Canada visited Nashville in October and attended the Jamboree....I enjoyed a great dinner with Sheldon and Ron Harman at Monell’s Restaurant in the Germantown district of Nashville.
On November 11th I attended the Veterans Day Parade in downtown Nashville. Among those I was pleased to visit with that day were retired General William D. Jones (who was the parade’s Co-Grand Marshal) and his wife Peggy, and Mr. Robert Macon who has served in three wars (World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam) and is the grandson of Uncle Dave Macon. As I continually remind myself and those around me, our Veterans and those who serve in the military are our true “heroes”....and we must never take for granted the freedom and liberty they defend for us, because freedom is definitely not free.
In November the Opry moved downtown to the Ryman Auditorium for three months, and it was nice to be back in that historic building, especially for the Christmas season. Nashville had a very bad snowstorm on Friday, January 29, 2010, and although many had to cancel because of the road conditions, Ron Harman was eager to use his 4-wheel drive truck, so I bundled up and didn’t have any trouble making it to the Ryman on Nashville’s snowy streets. One special thing that happened that evening was when Teea Goans made her Opry debut….and there was no one more excited or more deserving than Teea. Speaking of the Ryman, I attended two very special concerts there in early 2010. One was Kris Kristofferson in late January and the other was Gordon Lightfoot in early March. Both are such wonderful songwriters, and I was honored to meet each one briefly after their show. I have known Kris for years, but had never met Gordon before….they are both true ‘legends’ who have left a tremendous impact through their songs and music.
On March 27, 2010, my 39th anniversary as an Opry member, my great-granddaughter Alli Marie Simpson was born. She weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces, and was 19 inches long. Her parents are my granddaughter Anita and her husband Travis. Alli’s older brother is Cole, who will turn three years old in August. When he saw Alli he made the statement, “Well, I’ll hug her but I ain’t gonna kiss her”. But that has all changed. He kisses her hello, goodnight and every minute in between.
On March 28th I taped a video interview with Rik Palieri for his television show “The Songwriter’s Notebook”....then later learned that the interview will be among Rik’s shows placed in the National Archives at the Library of Congress, so it will be preserved there for future generations. Rik is a multi-talented musician, storyteller, and historian who has performed instrument demonstrations at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. You can check out his website at www.banjo.net.
Back in late January of this year I was honored to once again participate in the Family Reunion tapings here in Nashville. One of the taping days during the week was a special ‘Songwriters Family Reunion’. I can’t begin to tell you what an honor it was just to be in the presence of those great writers. I appreciate all the emails and messages that I receive telling me how much you enjoy watching those shows on the RFD channel and/or on the DVDs. On Sunday and Monday, April 18th and 19th, I traveled to Branson, Missouri, to perform four shows of the “Country’s Family Reunion Roadshow”. Others on those shows were Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seely, Dickey Lee, T.G. Sheppard, and Kelly Lang. I also taped a cooking show with Keith and Emy Joe Bilbrey, and an episode of “Larry’s Country Diner” with Bill Anderson. Many of you have told me you’ve seen that show. It was a very fun taping and the food was pretty good also...especially the French fries. Some of you may remember that at one time I was a waitress....and I got to practice my skills once again for that show. But this time I was glad it was just a temporary job.
The big news in Nashville in May was of course the terrible flooding that occurred early that month. I feel very fortunate that I was not affected personally, but I have many friends who suffered great losses, including my fellow Opry member and friend Jeannie Seely and our friend and Jeannie’s neighbor, Carolyn McClain. Since the flooding the Opry has been held at several different locations such as the Two Rivers Baptist Church and the War Memorial Auditorium, as well as of course the Ryman Auditorium. But the Opry consists of the people and the show, not just a building. It will continue no matter where the location. Please continue to pray for and support all the individuals and businesses that were affected.
This spring I made a visit to the Tennessee State Veterans Home in Murfreesboro, and enjoyed meeting and visiting with our Veterans there. Thanks to Barbara Cochran in the Activities Department there for inviting me back which I very much want to do. On May 21st I traveled to Somerset, Kentucky, to perform a show at the Center for Rural Development with George Hamilton IV, Joanne Cash, and Bobby G. Rice. Somerset is where longtime friend and fan Allen Branscum lives, and it was great to see him at the rehearsal and show. During the weekend of June 4th-6th I traveled to Linton, Indiana, to participate in the annual Phil Harris Scholarship Golf Tournament hosted by Roy Clark. Roy’s other guests for the evening entertainment included Jerry Chestnut, Wayne Carson, Jim "Mudcat" Grant, Mickey Jones, and Mike Behymer. Also in June I was invited to be the guest at the monthly “Country 101” get-together that Glen and Louise Thompson host at their home near Gallatin. We talked, sang, and ate....and overall had a wonderful evening. Glen has of course done a great deal to promote the Opry and preserve its history, and I thank him and Louise for having me as their guest.
Well that brings us up-to-date as we prepare to celebrate the July 4th holiday weekend....and give thanks for our country’s independence and freedom. On the 3rd I’ve been invited to be a guest on the Midnite Jamboree which will be hosted by George Hamilton IV....and as soon as it cools down a little I’d like to play some more golf. Like I said earlier, I will try to do better at keeping this page updated going forward. But remember that you can always check out the “Jan and Friends” page of my website, as the photos there will help keep you up with what’s happening. Enjoy your summer everyone....but don’t forget to take time out to stop and smell the roses.
After taking this long to write a new Home Page message, I hope
you’re still my friends. I was shocked when I saw the date on
the last one. I won’t go into the old saying “time passes so
quickly as you get older”….but it does.
Back on April 12th of this year Dolly did a special tribute to
Porter Wagoner at Dollywood. It was an invitation only event but
there were still several hundred people present, including
Porter’s family and several Opry members. I’m so glad I was
there. Not only was there a ceremony in the Rose Garden to plant
and dedicate a rose in Porter’s memory, there is now a special
room in the museum dedicated to his memory along with a personal
tribute video by Dolly. In addition to all of this, she did an
hour long concert of nothing but Porter’s songs….nothing, that
is, except the closing song “I Will Always Love You”. Dolly told
the story of how and why it was written. I doubt seriously if
there were many dry eyes in the audience. Mine were not. Oh, I
almost forgot, Dolly made three appearances that day, each one
in a different custom-tailored “Porter” suit…boots, wagon
wheels, “Hi” on the inside of the jacket ,and the works. Yes,
quite a day.
When people say “gosh, I can’t remember that far back”,
sometimes it’s literal. On May 3rd I was scheduled for the Opry,
but wasn’t feeling well and cancelled. That’s all I remember for
several days. To make a long and boring story short I had a bad
fall in my home which resulted in a brain concussion, lots of
bruises and fifteen stitches and eight clamps in my head…but no
broken bones. The doctor said “you have strong bones and a hard
head”. He also told me to expect some short term memory loss
which may come back partially. That has happened….so, when we
meet somewhere along life’s crooked road and I don’t remember
your name or when and where we met, I hope you’ll attribute it
to the accident, and not that time is taking its toll. Once more
I am reminded how fortunate I was and am. And I’m truly
Three weeks later I went to Linton, Indiana, for Roy Clark’s
golf tournament. I couldn’t play golf but did participate in the
two concerts. For the first time since I have been playing golf,
I came home a day early. I did play a few more times, including
the Don Ellis tournament here, and the Red Steagall tournament
in Yokum, Texas, but other than that, my clubs are getting
rusty. I take that back, it’s me that’s getting rusty. But, come
spring I’ll see if I remember which end of the club to hold.
In the last letter I mentioned that my great grandson was born
on August 11, 2007. Well, I think it was actually the 14th. But
he is now sixteen months old and walking everywhere. They had a
“for real” birthday party back in August. And guess what my gift
to him was??? Two sets of golf clubs! (No, not the grown-up
kind.) One set was a plastic “Snoopy” set that he can play with
now. And the other is a metal starter set for when he is a few
years older…I thought that was appropriate.
A few years ago I met this young, talented musician/songwriter
from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, whose name was Dale Vincent. He
told me about an event called “Sharing and Caring Boat Ride for
Hospitalized Veterans” that takes place there every year, and he
invited me to participate. Well, you know how it is…. sometimes,
even though you mean to do something, you get caught up in other
things, and don’t. But earlier this year I emailed Dale and
asked if the invitation was still good. He said it was, and I
accepted. So glad I did. Rather than repeat myself, just click
onto the “Jan’s Fans” page here on the website to see the photos
and read about my wonderful experience. There’s no way I can
express my thanks to Dale, and his wife, Randy, for their very
generous hospitality…accept to offer mine in return.
On October 9th I attended R.O.P.E.’s 25th Anniversary and 21st
Annual Golden Dinner/Awards/Show. The evening featured
performances by one of my favorite groups, The Time Jumpers, and
a tribute to the great steel guitar player John Hughey with
special guest Vince Gill. R.O.P.E. is the Reunion of
Professional Entertainers and their purpose is to enable folks
to renew friendships, enjoy fellowship, make new friends, and
have camaraderie with anyone who has had or is currently working
in the entertainment industry. That night Jeannie Seely, last
year’s Entertainer of the Year, presented the award to Jimmy C.
Newman who was named this year’s recipient. I thoroughly enjoyed
the evening and got to catch up with many friends.
You all know how much I enjoy hosting the Midnight Jamboree…well
on October 25th Leona Williams and I co-hosted a “Salute to
Veterans” show. It was a special night. Not only was it great to
share the stage with Leona (the best friend a country song ever
had), but in the audience that night there were approximately
seventy five retired former crew members of Air Force One. It
was an honor just to be in their presence.
A few nights after the Jamboree I went to a Predators hockey
game at the Sommet Center with a group of friends that included
Ryan and Dee Dee Ogrodny, Jeannie Seely, Amber Hayes, Ron
Harman, and Helen Cornelius and her daughter Christy. We had a
really fun time and cheered the Predators team on to a victory.
After a very long campaign the election was finally over in
early November. Frankly, after two years of hearing the same
speeches and promises over and over, I was ready. I had issues
with both parties. I’m not going to say who I voted for, nor am
I going to ask you that question, I just hope you voted. It’s a
privilege that we as Americans enjoy, and one that many have
served, fought and died to protect, and to preserve. Now is not
the time to politicize or criticize, it’s a time to support the
person who this nation has chosen to be the President of The
United States of America. Those are just my personal thoughts.
Thanksgiving was again a special time….a gathering of family and
close friends at the home of my son, Corky, and daughter-in-law,
Pam Howard. It was a beautiful day, in every way. We are so
blessed. And I am so thankful.
Recently my long time friend, Jean Shepard, celebrated fifty
three years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. If anyone
deserves to be in the Country Music Hall of Fame, she does. That
same night, she and her husband, Benny Birchfield, celebrated
their 40th wedding anniversary, and Jean’s 75th birthday. Now,
my brain doesn’t compute numbers, but her’s does. And she is a
walking testimonial to the saying “like good wine…better with
age”. A few nights later Eddie Stubbs did a two hour in-depth
interview with her in the Ford Theater at the Hall of Fame. Now,
I’ve known Jean for many years, but I learned things that night
that even I did not know. I can’t wait to read her book which I
believe she said will be available very soon. She’s amazing. And
I’m proud to call her a “friend”. And speaking of Jean….she,
Helen Cornelius, and I are going to Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
on the 15th of January. Check out the “On The Go” page for the
details of the time and place. I guarantee it will be a fun
show….and it’s great to work with friends.
In late October we welcomed Craig Morgan as the newest member of
the Grand Ole Opry and the following week on November 1st we
celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first performance on the
Opry by Little Jimmy Dickens. My congratulations go out to both
Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Mine was quieter than
usual….everyone in my family was sick. I had a lot of time to
think about the important things in life…and the real reason for
Christmas. They’re all well now and that’s the best gift I could
receive. Earlier during the Christmas season I was honored to
attend Louise Mandrell’s Christmas Dinner Show at the Opryland
Hotel. What an amazing singer, dancer, musician, and all-around
entertainer Louise is!….and the dinner that night was wonderful.
After the dinner and show we met with Louise, then took a ride
on the boat that runs through the Delta section of the
hotel….and of course enjoyed all the beautiful Christmas lights
As I recently looked back on this past year I realized that
country music lost many of its legends….and individuals that I
was blessed to know and call friends. They include Eddy Arnold
in May, Danny Davis in June, Don Helms and Buddy Harman in
August, and Jerry Reed and Charlie Walker in September. My
thoughts and prayers go out to all their families.
New Years is just a couple days away as I write this. I say this
every year about whatever year it is, but 2009 seems like a time
in a science fiction movie. I just hope it’s filled with health,
happiness and prosperity for all.
Please continue to support and pray for our military that are in
harms way. And for peace and comfort for the families of friends
and loved ones who are no longer with us.
Thank you for your beautiful cards, e-mails and letters. I read
every one. And a new announcement…with the help of several
friends, I now have a MySpace page! Just click onto
www.myspace.com/janhowardmusic. There’s all sorts of things on
there, and I’m still learning. So when you have a moment, I’d
love to hear from you. It’s a great way to keep in touch.
Until next time, thank you for your friendship “Thru the Years”.
I appreciate each of you so much. And love you all.
First of all…..HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope it’s the best ever.
There’s so much going on in the world. I pray that God will
bless this country, and the upcoming election of a new
president. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure yet who will
get my vote.
Secondly, and VERY important, I want to thank each of you for
the thoughtful, sweet and beautiful cards throughout the
year….Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, just everything. You
never forget, even though I sometimes do. And some of you even
remember special dates in my life that I’ll never forget. I
can’t thank you enough. And for your special gifts, which I
appreciate so much. But you know what would make me happier? For
you to spend that money on yourself, your loved ones, or even
donate to a charity of your choice. I’m so blessed to have
friends such as each of you, that’s gift enough. I have to
confess though; I did eat every bite of chocolate, and ate every
cookie…and loved every pound.
I mentioned in the previous Home Page about playing in the Phil
Harris golf tournament. Boots Randolph was a great addition last
year. He performed two nights, played golf both days and had a
great time. But, sadly, early in July, after a short illness, he
passed away. He was a much loved and respected person, and will
be missed terribly. But oh, what a musical legacy he left. On
July 20th, a celebration of his life was held in the Ford
Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame. The theater was
packed with his family and a host of friends. After the
tributes, something I will never forget took place. Fifty
saxophonists stood in front of a life-sized picture of Boots
playing his sax, and they played together “Yakety Sax”. It was
as if Boots was playing right along with them. And I’ll bet he
was. Thanks Boots, for your friendship and your music.
Two VERY exciting things happened last year. First, on August
11th, my great grandson, Coleton Clark Simpson was born. The
waiting room was packed with family and friends waiting for this
precious baby to make his entrance into the world, which he did
with great gusto. He’s over five months old now, turning over
and trying to sit up. And I swear, he’s the best baby I ever
saw. Never cries except when he’s hungry or needs a change.
Otherwise he has this beautiful smile which he will flash to
anyone in sight. Proud? You bet! But nothing compared to the
pride of my son, Corky, and my daughter-in-law, Pam. Cole is the
light of their lives. And, needless to say, of his parents,
Anita and Travis Simpson’s lives. I’ll get to the other GREAT
event later on in the newsletter.
August 30th, Jeannie Seely and I drove to Maggie Valley, NC
where we worked a show with Jean Shepard the following night.
It’s always fun to work with my friends, and this was no
exception (except for the fact that they are both blondes….just
kidding). The show was held in an amphitheater and the weather
was perfect. A bluegrass group performed first so we didn’t go
on until about 9:00. But the crowd was great and stayed till the
end. What more could anyone ask???
September 14th and 15th the Grand Ladies (Jean Shepard, Jeannie
Seely, Helen Cornelius and I) worked at the Casino Milac in
Onamia, MN. Two sold out shows and standing ovations both
nights. Absolutely great! And fun! Especially at the end of the
show when we all came back onstage together. But there again, I
was in the middle of THREE blondes. Three members of the band
and I had planned to play golf, but the weather was COLD, 30
degrees, so that went by the wayside. Instead Jeannie, Helen and
I went to gift shop and bought fleece jackets…all alike. And we
wore them home on the plane. Someone said we looked like the
three stooges…but we were warm.
October 7th and 8th I played in the Red Steagall golf tournament
in Yokam, TX. My game hadn’t improved, but I love going there.
And just to see the kids from the BlueBonnett Youth Ranch (a
home for abused and neglected children which the tournament
supports) is always worth any effort on our part.
On the 15th of October we lost another dear friend, Brent
Burkett of the Four Guys. They were part of the Opry for 15
years, first as a backup group, then as an act on their own.
Great entertainers! They worked a lot of cruises and had a club
here in Nashville called, appropriately “The Four Guys”. But,
wherever you saw them, you were thoroughly entertained.
Later that month, October 30th, we lost another Icon in the
Music industry; Porter Wagoner. To even write this is almost
unreal. And there’s nothing that I can say that hasn’t been
said. His accomplishments went far and beyond anything I’m sure
this young man from West Plains, Missouri, ever hoped for. But,
maybe not. Being from West Plains myself, I remember him singing
on the courthouse square with a group called Red Hall and the
Auctioneers. The next thing I knew he was in Springfield, MO
singing on the radio. And from there to The Ozark Jubilee, and
on to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. I could go on and on
about his many hit records, his successful television show, etc.
but what I prefer to remember about Porter is the kind of person
he was. Yes, he was a professional entertainer, but he was also
kind and thoughtful to his fellow man. And he loved his family.
He is missed.
Earlier in this Home Page I mentioned that there were TWO very
important events….this is the second one. December 22nd was the
wedding of my granddaughter, Mitsi, and her fiancé Keith
Lindsey. The church was the downtown Presbyterian Church in
Nashville, a historical landmark complete with a pipe organ. And
the reception was held at the Hermitage Hotel. For those of you
who have never been to Nashville, it is one of the oldest and
most elegant hotels here. I could go on and on but to make a
long story short all I can say is everything was beautiful and
perfect. That also describes Mitsi, beautiful and perfect. Would
you say I’m prejudiced? If so, you’re right. I wish them much
I guess you’ve noticed I haven’t worked the road much this year.
And it’s my choice. I’ve come to that point in life that if it
isn’t fun, I’m not going to do it. Life is too short. And
there’s so much I’d like to do and see. I just haven’t figured
out what and where….but I will. I still do the Opry, and will be
at Dollywood June 6th thru 10th. There’s some other things in
the works but not confirmed at this time. But somewhere along
the way I hope we meet. I love to see old (long-time) friends
and make new friends. And memories.
Two great additions were made to the membership of the Grand Ole
Opry recently; Josh Turner on October 27, 2007, and Charlie
Daniels on January 26, 2008. I was present the first time Josh
appeared on the Opry as a guest…and I knew back then that he was
special. His voice was his own, not a “sound alike”. He was also
genuine. Talking with him later I said “Josh, you seem real. I
just hope you stay that way”. He said “I promise. Besides, my
family wouldn’t let me be otherwise”. He has kept that promise.
The rest is country music history.
I have been a Charlie Daniels fan for many years. Not only is he
an unbelievable entertainer, but he is a good Christian man and
supports our military 100%. He walks the talk. He gives so much
of himself, not only to his audience when he’s performing, but
to the many charity causes to which he lends his name and
talent. He and his wife, Hazel, are two of the nicest people I
have ever met. He loves and respects the Grand Ole Opry and the
tradition it represents. I was privileged to be present the
night he was made a member. The true emotion on his face and in
his voice said it all. Welcome Charlie, to the Grand Old Opry.
Last fall three new members were added to the Country Music Hall
of Fame – Vince Gill, Mel Tillis and Ralph Emery. All very
deserving. Ralph was one of the first to play my records when he
was an all night disk jockey on WSM Radio. When he hosted
“Nashville Now”, it (i.e., he) was so popular it became known to
most as “The Ralph Emery Show”. His voice is so distinctive,
even if you don’t see his face, you know who it is. All artists
owe a lot to Ralph Emery for the exposure he gave to our music.
Thank you, Ralph.
Mel Tillis is one of the true class acts in country music. When
he and his Statesmen walk onto the stage, the audience has no
doubt that they will be thoroughly entertained. I attended a two
hour performance at his theater in Branson, and every song he
sang was one he had written. When he was made a member of the
Grand Ole Opry last year, it was long overdue. And now he’s in
the Hall of Fame. As I said, very well deserved.
Vince Gill…what can I say???? I’m a dyed-in-the-wool fan. He
says he sings like a girl…I say he sings like an angel. And,
having sung on many other artists’ records he’s not selfish with
his talent, both as a singer and a musician. He is an Opry
member and represents it well. And each time he walks onto the
stage there is immediate magic. But another thing I like about
Vince is his support of young golfers. The youth of today need
heroes, and he is one they look up to and know they won’t be
disappointed in later on. My oldest son, Jimmy, loved the game.
I wish there had been someone like Vince to guide him then.
So many of you have written or e-mailed me asking when we’re
going to do more of the Country Family Reunion videos. Well,
they’re done! At the end of January we filmed for three days (11
to 12 hours per day) and there were over seventy participants. I
was proud to be there all three days. Bill Anderson was the host
and did an excellent job of keeping the songs and stories
flowing….so many memories being preserved for the now and future
generations. The last I heard was they will be available on DVD
around the middle of April 2008. I can’t wait!....and plan to
give many as Christmas gifts. I hope you enjoy viewing them as
much as we did making them.
I think that about brings us up-to-date. Take care and God bless
you. You’re each very important to me, and as always I
appreciate you “hanging in there” with me Through The Years.
I apologize for being so late in writing this new Home Page.
Seems every time I’d get it started I’d let something else get
in the way. Not so this time. It’s been seven months since the
last message so today’s the day.
First of all I’d like to say “thank you” for all of the cards
and e-mails on special days like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my
Birthday. And for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers on
other days which you know are close to my heart. And for those
of you who have had your special days, I hope they were filled
with many blessings.
To start off on a joyous note, on Christmas Eve we (my family
and I) were gathered at my son and daughter-in-law’s home to go
to the evening candlelight service. We were fixing to walk out
the door when Anita, my granddaughter, said “let’s open one
present before we leave”. That was always reserved for later,
after dinner. Then she handed all of us a small, white gift bag
filled with tissue paper. We all kinda looked at each other, not
knowing what to expect. I carefully took out the tissue paper
and inside was a little, folded piece of paper on which was
typed “WE’RE PREGNANT “. I swear it was at least a minute before
anyone said a word. Everyone was in shock. But when we recovered
there were hugs galore. A precious and blessed moment. The baby
is due August 11th and HE is a little boy. To say I’m thrilled
is putting it mildly. Anita and her husband Travis (who
celebrated their 4th wedding anniversary in April) will make
Another exciting announcement came a few weeks later. My oldest
granddaughter, Mitsi, and a young man she has been seeing for
quite some time, Keith Lindsey, became engaged. I am so happy
for them. Right now they’re renovating a house they bought and
it should be ready to move into before the great day…December
22nd. So, with planning for Anita and Travis’s baby and Mitsi
and Keith’s wedding plans in full swing, it’s an exciting year
for the Howard family.
Now, to some other items. Due to another surgery (nothing
serious) which I had a couple of months ago, I haven’t worked
much out of town this year. I’m fine now but for awhile my
activities were restricted…and definitely no golf. But I’m
making up for it now.
In the month of April I played in two tournaments in Nashville –
the Don Ellis Tournament, which benefits Special Olympics, and
The Charlie Walker Tournament which benefits the Shrine. I
missed Billy Walker on both. He loved to play and was always
there. I can’t believe this past year has gone by so quickly. A
couple of weeks ago I played in a scramble at Fort Campbell,
Kentucky. My partners were three young soldiers who either had
been or were going to Iraq. I wanted to adopt all three. They
were good golfers, plus had a sense of humor…which, playing with
me they needed.
Last weekend, once again, I played in the Phil Harris Tournament
which is hosted by Roy Clark in Linton, Indiana. Fifty four
holes in three days, no less…and bowled three games. But I had a
great time. I think that may qualify as my yearly physical. And,
as always, it was great working with Roy’s band for the concert.
Each golf tournament is to benefit a charity. This one goes to
scholarships for the Linton High School students. I was told
last year the money raised was enough for seven…that’s great!
The morning after the tournament I was preparing to leave when I
remembered a note that had been left at the motel desk. Seems a
lady who owned a local dress shop had a copy of my book which
she would like signed. Arriving at the shop I noticed it was
dark inside and assumed it was closed…but I tried the door. It
was unlocked. But in a window display, there was my book. And
not wanting to leave before signing it, I walked in. I kept
saying “hello, anyone here?” No answer. So I took the book and a
baseball cap which I liked, and walked over to the desk. I kept
thinking “this is strange….any minute I’m going to stumble
across a dead body or someone is going to come in and shoot me”.
But neither happened, thank God. I signed the book, took the
price tag from the cap ($29.95) and laid $35.00 on the counter
along with a note saying “So sorry I missed you”. Just then the
door opened and a woman walked in. As I tried to explain why I
was there, she said “never mind, that’s typical Linton”. Anyway,
she called the owner, Faye, who came right down. We had a nice
talk and it happened the cap was on sale so I got it for $10.00.
All’s well that ends well. And it’s nice to know that there is
still trust and honesty in this world.
This Monday and Tuesday I’m playing in two more tournaments,
then I may “cool it” awhile. On second thought that may be hard
to do since it’s supposed to be 93 and 94 degrees both days. I
keep thinking about giving it up…..then something happens that
makes me hang on awhile. For instance, a couple of weeks ago I
saw on TV about a woman, I think her name is Elsie, who is 103
and had just made a Hole in One. That may be me one of these
days. Okay, enough about golf.
One thing I want to be sure and tell you about. In March I
received an e-mail from Scott Shipley regarding a benefit
concert. Scott is a great entertainer and musician from my home
town of West Plains, Missouri….and his family still lives there.
On April 5th I went to West Plains to take part in a show to
benefit the Croney family who were totally wiped out by the
tornado which hit there a few months ago. They lost their home
and all belongings. But most devastating of all was the loss of
their seven year old daughter. And the last I heard the father
was still in the hospital, paralyzed and with severe brain
damage. The town has already raised money to build them a new
home so this money is going for an education fund for the
remaining children. Once again, this experience was a reminder
to cherish every moment…and give thanks for our many blessings.
On my part of the benefit show, Scott suggested that just he and
I do the set. I’m glad he did because he played everything
perfectly….including Ozark Mountain Jubilee.
I don’t know if you have seen Carrie and Debbie Moore’s video
“Find Me A Man Like Goober”. If you haven’t, check it out. It’s
getting a lot of play. Of course the song is about Goober…George
Lindsey…who is great. I saw him today and told him the reason
I’m still single is because there ARE no more Goobers. Several
artists appeared in the video….four of whom were Jeannie Seely,
Jean Shepard, Helen Cornelius, and yours truly. Great fun!
On March 24th I had the pleasure (and it WAS a pleasure) to work
with Jack Greene, Stonewall Jackson, Helen Cornelius, and Jim Ed
Brown in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. And the emcee was none other
than well known baseball umpire, Joe West. What a great addition
to the shows. He brought his own style and jokes to the stage
and the audience loved him. Strictly class. We did two shows,
both sold out. The people in PA have always been so supportive
of country music, especially the traditional artists. They were
wonderful. I know I speak for everyone when I say “thank you”.
I also had the pleasure of performing at Calvin Ray’s Theater in
Leitchfield, Kentucky, on March 31st. I enjoyed working with
Calvin Ray and appreciate all the fans that came out to that
show. The theater is actually a dinner theater and the food
there is wonderful….especially my favorite pie, Coconut
Next week I leave for Dollywood where I’ll be appearing in the
show at the Pines Theater from June 19th through the 23rd.
They’ll be four shows on the first day, and two shows each of
the other days. I always look forward to being there, seeing old
friends, and hopefully making new ones.
Then on August 31st I’ll be in Maggie Valley, North Carolina,
doing a show with Jean Shepard and Jeannie Seely. Now that will
be big time FUN! The details for the show can be found on the
‘On The Go’ page of my website. Hope to see you there.
Please continue to pray for our Troops who are in harm’s way.
And pray for their families. As John Conlee says in his song,
“They Also Serve”.
I guess that’s about it for now. Take special care. And thank
you for your continued support and friendship “Through The
Years”. I’ll always be grateful.
It’s that time again. Ron has been after me to write a new Home
Page for the website. It’s not that I’m that busy….well, I am
but it’s hard for me to sit down long enough to get it done. My
sister Tiny said to me a long time ago, “Don’t you EVER sit
down???” Maybe I feel if I sit down, time will catch up with me.
But I’m sitting down now so here it goes.
People keep asking me about my golf game. To be honest, it
hasn’t gotten any better. But I’ve played very little this year.
It seems that when you lose strength due to one thing or
another, it doesn’t come back easily. After the surgery the
doctor said it would take a year. I didn’t believe him then but
sure do now. My clubs seem to weigh a ton.
Don Ellis, a great writer and artist, always hosts a tournament
in April to benefit Special Olympics, and again I was invited. I
told him I doubted if I’d be much help and to please put me with
a team with a sense of humor. He did. I don’t know what our
score was but it was a beautiful day and we had a great time…or
at least I did. There were several “long hitters” on the team so
I mostly just chipped and putted.
Mother’s Day is always very special for me. This year we all
attended church together then went to Maggiano’s, a great
Italian restaurant for lunch. It was served family style, and
I’ve never seen so much food in my life. Needless to say we each
took some home. Food is great, but it’s the company that counts.
Once again I attended the Phil Harris Tournament in Linton,
Indiana. Roy Clark hosts the tournament and due to back surgery
wasn’t able to be there last year, but he was this year. And, as
always, on the concert he was great. I love going there. The
people there are genuine. I never leave that place without
saying “this is America”. And as long as I’m invited I’ll keep
I was very honored to be asked to perform at the R.O.P.E show
during what we used to call Fan Fair. I still call it that.
Because it’s the fans, young old and in between that make it all
happen. Marty Martel wrote an article about the show and I
appreciate the complimentary things he had to say. Tom T. Hall
and Ralph Emery were the emcees. I wish Tom had performed but
when he says he’s retired, he means it. Several other artists
were on the show – Tommy Cash, Karen Wheeler, Bobby Osborne and
the Rocky Top Express, and Little Jimmy Dickens. If I see him
perform a thousand times he never ceases to make me laugh. Or
cry when he does Raggedy Ann. I was honored to share the stage
with each and all of these artists.
On July 3rd I worked a date in Panama City, Florida, with Jim Ed
Brown, Johnny Lee, T. Graham Brown and Bill Anderson. They were
all so great. It had been so long since I had worked a whole
show I was more than a little nervous. Sometimes, when I work
with pros of their caliber my early days of stage fright come
rushing back and I wonder “what am I doing here?” But the
audience was more than nice and I was glad to be there. I had
planned to stay a few days and enjoy the beach, but it was hot
so I decided to head back home. It was a beautiful drive
though…all 1,083 miles of it.
On July 20th I had more eye surgery. Actually my eyes had been
bothering me and when I went for a check up they had me read the
chart. Well, I should say TRY to read it. It was a total blur.
Turns out a film had developed over the right eye, so it was
back to the surgery center. But a few minutes later and a zap of
the laser, it was gone. Amazing. Now I just do drops several
times a day and it seems to work. The only problem I had was
when the lights hit me I saw stars….literally.
The night of July 22nd I hosted the Midnight Jamboree. And I
couldn’t see a thing. The audience was a blur. All I saw were
stars and flashing lights. I tried to make a joke of it but it
wasn’t funny to me. But when I explained, the audience
understood why I didn’t recognize some longtime friends who were
there. One of them was Jean Wood who had traveled all the way
from Chicago. Bless her heart, she has been a long and faithful
fan for many years. After the show though I had the opportunity
to visit with everyone. I always enjoy hosting the Jamboree.
When I’m there it’s always interesting, to say the least.
On August 3rd they had a reception at the Hall of Fame for the
opening of the Ray Price exhibit. I wasn’t about to miss that.
Of all of the people I admire and respect in the music industry,
he tops the list. Like good wine, he just keeps getting better
and better. Totally amazing. While touring Ray’s exhibit I got
to talking with a group of four young men who were enthralled
with everything there. I said to one of them “I assume you are
Ray Price fans”. He replied, “He’s our hero”. Good taste.
Yes, I did go to Dollywood again this year from September 6th
through the 20th, a beautiful time of year to be in the Smokies.
I always look forward to working there and I’m never
disappointed. In fact, it’s so much fun it doesn’t seem right to
call it work. The show is called “Back Where I Come From” and
it’s held in the Pines Theater which is large enough to hold a
good sized audience and small enough to have an intimate
atmosphere. Everyone connected with this show is a professional,
from the cast and band to the people behind the scenes. If I’m
lucky enough to be invited back next year, and if you’re in the
area, I hope you’ll stop by. Dollywood is such a beautiful place
with so many things to do and see, I promise you’ll have a good
I’ve always believed you’re where you’re supposed to be when
you’re supposed to be there. Not long ago Michael Langston and
Richard Tomlin purchased the condo two doors from me. Really
nice neighbors. One night I was pulling out of my carport to go
to the Opry when Michael came out and asked “Are you in a
hurry?” I said, “Not too much. Why?” He said he and Richard
wanted me to meet Richard’s sister, Lily. Then it hit me….his
sister was Lily Tomlin, someone I had admired for many
years…back to the days of Laugh-In. And many things thereafter.
She was everything I knew she would be; very sweet and very
nice. They took several pictures. And the next day Richard gave
me one which you will see on the website. What a nice
experience. I’m so glad I wasn’t in that much of a hurry.
The 27th is my daughter-in-law’s birthday. I thought and thought
and couldn’t think of anything she’d really like. So I came up
with the idea of taking her to lunch and then shopping. She
loved the idea. I told her to choose the restaurant. After lunch
we toured the mall. She looked at several things, then I asked
“Pam, is there something that you really want?’ She hesitated,
then said she’d been looking for a pair of brown, suede boots.
That narrowed the search. I want you to know we checked every
place in Green Hills Mall and no one had brown suede boots. I
asked if she knew of anywhere else. She did. So to make a long
story short I gave her some money and told her to buy those
boots. At least I know she got what she wanted. But I really
enjoyed our time together. I’m one very lucky mother-in-law.
November 18th was Stonewall Jackson’s 50th Grand Ole Opry
Anniversary. What a great contribution he has made in the world
of country music. So many wonderful songs. I was a Stonewall
Jackson fan before I ever thought of singing professionally, and
still am a fan. The folks at the Ernest Tubb record Shop held a
reception for him which was attended by many of his fans and
friends, me included. Then later he was hosting the Midnight
Jamboree. A good time was had by all. Congratulations Stonewall!
One more thing before I forget. Recently I was asked to be the
emcee at the Mrs. Tennessee Pageant which will be held in
Cookeville, TN on October 21st and 22nd of 2007. I said
“2007?????” I stole Jeannie Seely’s saying of “I don’t even buy
green bananas”. The gentleman laughed and said, “You’ll have
plenty of time to prepare”. Anyway, I was and am extremely
honored to be asked and will do my best to honor the contestants
and the Pageant.
Thanksgiving is this coming week. And once more I’m reminded how
blessed I am. I have so many things to be thankful for and thank
God for His many blessings every day; most importantly my family
and my friends.
Please continue to pray for our Troops who are in harms way. And
for our country.
God Bless You. And thank you for your support ‘Thru the Years’.
I've been promising myself to write this new Home Page for some
time now... Okay, there's one sentence done. One reason I kept
putting it off was that I couldn't think of much that would be
of interest to anyone...but here goes.
I ended the last Home Page in November. Well, after that things
kind of fell apart. I mentioned last time about appearing in
Dollywood. On the way home from there I was driving through
Knoxville (in heavy traffic with big semi-trucks on both sides
of me) when I had a severe dizzy spell and double vision. I just
knew I was gonna be creamed by the trucks or the concrete wall
that was coming up fast. I couldn't see and was afraid to move.
All I could do was hold the steering wheel steady and hoped I
could negotiate my way to the shoulder when they passed.
Finally, thank God, they did and I was able to stop. I sat there
till my vision cleared and the dizziness went away. It was
probably a few seconds but it seemed like an eternity. Needless
to say, the rest of the way home I drove very cautiously and in
the right-hand lane. I had previously had a few dizzy spells and
temporary loss of vision a few times before…but nothing like
The next morning I made a doctor's appointment. While doing the
regular exam he kept saying "hummm...hummm"...while the
stethoscope was on my neck. Then he said, "I don't like the
sound of this". That got my attention. "Well," I said, "I don't
like the sound of what you just said". The end result was I
needed to go for an ultrasound and cat scan. I had three. They
all said the same thing...."You need to have surgery".
On December 13th I checked into Baptist Hospital at 8:00 a.m.
for surgery at 9:00. Since I'm allergic to so many medications –
and recalling the doctor giving me all the down sides to having
surgery (you could have a stroke…you could die…) – I was more
than a little nervous. But I did as I was told..."put on the
sexy, see-thru gown....no jewelry, no this, no that"...and was
wheeled down the hall to the operating room. Corky had taken me
to the hospital but I barely remember seeing him after leaving
the room. The rest is a nightmare.
Being extremely sick to my stomach is not a good memory…and
neither is hearing someone say, "It's sixty over forty and can't
go any lower". And someone else saying, "If we can just get it
to eighty nine we can move her". Finally we were moving…but then
someone gave me a shot. Then violent vomiting and back to the
recovery room…an allergic reaction. For something that was
supposed to take a few hours and then I could go home…it was
fourteen hours in the recovery room and eight days in the
hospital. Everything is a fog. Someone said I had a few choice
words for the doctors but I honestly don’t remember.
The first night out of the hospital I spent with Corky and Pam,
and the next night with brother Bob and his wife Margie. Then I
insisted on going home to my own bed. Like I said, I wasn't
thinking right. Evidently I walked, talked, ate and did normal
things, but I don't remember much for a couple of weeks. A fan
called and asked, "Did you receive the flowers?" I didn’t think
I had received them and suggested he contact his florist....I
didn't want him to be charged. He called back. "Jan," he said,
"The florist said he called before delivering the flowers and
you answered. And when they made the delivery some woman in pink
pajamas answered the door and accepted the flowers.” I don’t
remember that at all.
I'm not making light of this but I wish they had done a face
lift while I was under because, believe me, I will never go
under again unless it's a case of life or death. I sincerely
appreciate all of the flowers, cards, prayers and good wishes
during that very trying time.
Okay, now on to a more pleasant topic. Christmas Eve, as always,
was very special…a candlelight church service and dinner with my
family. Many times that evening I silently thanked God for His
On January 20th I did the Opry for the first time in many weeks.
I hadn't sung in so long and needless to say, I was more than a
little nervous. It was almost like the first time. I know my
voice was a little weak but as always the audience made me glad
I was there.
On January 25th I did something I'd been wanting to do for a
long time…I had my family over for dinner. That probably doesn't
sound like a big deal to most, but since I don't cook much
anymore, I planned and cooked for two days. It was worth every
minute. I fixed marinated beef tenderloin, spinach and artichoke
casserole, parsley new potatoes and a green salad. I know I also
made some kind of dessert…but evidently it didn't impress me
much ‘cause I can't recall right now what it was. It was a great
evening. I need to do that more often.
Now to tell you about a very special day…March 9th. My
daughter-in-law (Pam) prepared a sit-down lunch at their home
for about twenty of my friends. Everything was just beautiful.
Pam had gone to a lot of trouble. Corky, my granddaughters Mitsi
and Anita, Anita's husband Travis, and Bob and Margie (my
brother and sister-in-law) all came. We all held hands and Corky
said the Blessing. Then when everyone was seated they served us.
In between serving, Pam was also taking pictures. The food was
delicious. And to cap it off, she brought in a beautiful
strawberry cake. My actual birthday was on March 13th but this
luncheon was my gift. To be surrounded by my family and special
friends was the best gift I could possibly receive, and I will
never forget that day. I am truly blessed.
I swore this would be a short Home Page but I guess it isn't
turning out that way. On March 16th a friend who lives in
Hopkinsville, Kentucky, TC Freeman, and I drove to Fort Rucker,
Alabama, to visit some mutual friends, General E.J. Sinclair and
his wife Susan. We all met when they were stationed at Fort
Campbell, Kentucky. E.J. is now Post Commander at Fort Rucker.
While there I played in the Wives Club Golf Tournament. E.J.,
his assistant Col. Bill Wolfe and Frank Zerbinos (another friend
from Fort Campbell) were my partners. I have to tell you this
story...on one hole I was taking my backswing when my club
slipped out of my hand. This had never happened before so I was
shocked (to say the least)…but not near as much as E.J. when the
club hit his shoulder. I said something I can't repeat. But E.J.
just looked at me and said "Jan, did I do something to make you
mad?" I said "No, and I didn't come here to kill the Post
Commander.” Thank goodness he has a sense of humor.
That night we drove to their beach house in Panama City Beach,
Florida. It's so beautiful I wanted to just move in and be a
permanent guest. But the next morning after Susan treated us to
a great breakfast, we gathered up towels, umbrellas, and so on
and headed for the beach. The weather was perfect – sunshine but
not hot. In fact it was slightly cool. I had on warm-up pants
but after looking at that white sand for awhile I rolled up my
pant legs, took off my shoes and walked on the beach barefoot.
It was great. But that night my feet and legs were red as a
beet...a bad sunburn! It's been a month now and they're still
peeling. But it was worth it. The next morning we loaded up and
drove back to Nashville. I sure hated to leave and come back to
the "real world".
Before leaving for Alabama I received a call from Louise and
Barbara Mandrell inviting me to a luncheon at the home of their
parents, Irby and Mary, on the 22nd of March. It was a gathering
of many long-time friends of the whole family – people they had
known and worked with from the beginning of their careers. Thank
you, Louise and Barbara, for including me! Louise was snapping
pictures all afternoon. And before each person left they were
presented with a CD of the pictures…what a great gift of
memories. I was so proud to be in the presence of so many REAL
legends, all at the same time.
March 24th was another very special night. My actual 35th Opry
anniversary was the 27th but that was on the following Monday.
So on the Friday before that, the 24th, I was on Bill Anderson's
Opry portion at 9:00. Bill was actually the one who introduced
me the night I was made a member in 1971. And he's introduced me
many times...but this night it almost brought me to tears. Then
Jean Shepard came onstage and presented me with flowers from The
Grand Ladies of the Opry. My heart was full. And it was all I
could do to sing past the lump in my throat. But that was just
Ron Harman, my good friend and the person that puts together my
website, had suggested backstage at the Opry that we join
Jeannie Seely and Denny Nelson at John A's (a restaurant near
the Opry) for a bite to eat. Well, I was totally taken off guard
for what followed. I discovered that Mike Manning and Ron, who
both work at the County Music Hall of Fame and Museum, had come
up with the idea as a surprise. And indeed it WAS a surprise.
There, at this long table sat Mike, Jeannie, Denny, Jean Shepard
and her husband Benny Birchfield, Billy and Bettie Walker and
several other special friends. And before I knew it, in came Jim
Ed Brown and Bill Anderson. They were all there in honor of and
to help celebrate my Opry Anniversary. I'm reminded so often how
blessed with friends I am. Ron had ordered Hatch Show Prints to
commemorate the anniversary and I enjoyed signing them for
everyone. THEN...Mike and Ron brought out a huge cake that was
beautifully decorated. It was so big that when we ran out of
people at our table to serve, there was enough left to serve
most everyone else in the restaurant. And that's exactly what we
did. I know I gained a few pounds but who cares…it was a great
Well friends, I'm winding down and know you are from reading
this. If you're wondering about my golf game, I've only played
twice since the surgery. Strength is slow in returning…but more
tournaments are coming up so I'll get back to it soon. And the
“On The Go” Page of my website is kind of lacking information,
but I’ll try to get some dates on there. I do know I'll be at
Dollywood this year from September 6th through the 26th. If
you're in the area please stop by. I'd love to see you.
Thanks for hanging in there with me. Please continue to pray for
our military who are in harms way. I appreciate all of your love
and support...and have THRU THE YEARS.
Hi there one and all,
It’s that time again. November already? I won’t go into all that
stuff about “where did the time go”….but where DID it go? I
don’t want it to stop, but slow down a little? Yes. People keep
sending me things about “remember when?”….and yes, I seem to
remember every one. Oh well, at least I can still remember.
(Well, most of the time.)
Looking back through my date book, if I can read my writing I’ll
try to fill you in on what I’ve been doing and where I’ve been.
One thing I can tell you, for someone who isn’t making a lot of
money I sure do stay busy….and have as much fun as possible.
Beginning in May….on Mother’s Day I attended church and had
lunch afterward with my son Corky, my daughter-in law Pam, and
my two granddaughters Mitsi and Anita and Anita’s husband,
Travis. Even though most of you don’t know them personally, the
reason I’m mentioning this is because of any and everything I
do, these times are more important and special to me than
The middle of May I went back to Middletown, Ohio to participate
in a golf tournament which raised several thousand dollars for
Children’s Diabetes. It’s always such an honor to be a part of
these events. My game left a lot to be desired though….I still
had a two handicap, golf and my clubs. Someone asked how many
“birdies” we had. I said “somewhere I saw a vulture flying over
my clubs….does that count?”
May 3rd and 4th I participated in the Phil Harris golf
tournament in Linton, Indiana which is hosted by Roy Clark.
Since he was recuperating from recent hip surgery Roy wasn’t
able to be there this year and was sorely missed by everyone,
but as the saying goes, “the show must go on” and it did. The
people in Linton are wonderful and I always enjoy being there.
Immediately after we finished on Sunday I drove back to
Nashville (approximately 350 miles) to appear at a pre-golf
dinner for the Charlie Walker tournament the next day. By the
end of that day my clubs felt like they weighed a ton. Maybe I
should take up tennis.
I always enjoy attending Bill Anderson’s Fan Club dinner, and
this year was no exception. It was great seeing so many people
who have been fans of his (and hopefully mine) for years. Some
go back to when Bill and I were working together and drove many
miles to attend the shows. I hope some will read this and know
how much their loyalty and support is appreciated. I know they
hear it from Bill but since I don’t see them often I don’t get a
chance to tell them.
Bill has always had one of the best bands in country music and
still does. At the dinner he always has a special guest. This
year that guest was Kenzie West who plays fiddle (or violin) in
the band. Not only is she a great musician but she has a
beautiful voice and a style completely her own. The minute she
began to sing she had the attention of everyone in the audience.
If it hasn’t happened already I understand there is a record
deal in the works and I wish her all the best.
I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to hear the new Dolly Parton
CD yet but I think it’s one of her best. A group of her Opry
friends were invited to sing with her on the title song “Those
Were The Days” and it was great fun. She sent each of us a
picture of the whole group in the studio which I’ll try to put
on the web site.
On July 22nd, Jeannie Seely, Helen Cornelius and I did a show in
Salem, Indiana. Now that was a trip and a half and a case of “I
guess you had to be there”. The temperature was above 100
degrees and the show was in an open amphitheater in the middle
of a state park. But the audience was great…not the largest but
absolutely wonderful for suffering in the heat to attend the
show. Since all three of us were going from Nashville, we rode
together in my car….I drove. After autographing, the three of us
changed and by the time we got our “stuff” together it was 11:00
o’clock…and very dark in that state park. Everyone else had
already “split the scene”. There were three entrances into the
park and none of us could remember how to get out. Like tossing
a coin we decided on a road that looked like it was going in the
right direction. There were no lights anywhere….cars or
otherwise. I pulled off to the side of the road, turned on the
flashers and pushed the blue button for On Star. A voice came on
saying” yes, Ms. Howard, how may I help you?” “Well, to begin
with,” I said, ”you can help us get on the right road.” I told
him the town and where we were staying, etc. About that time car
lights appeared in the rear view mirror and a State Patrol car
passed us. Now here we were, four women (a friend of Helen’s was
with us) stopped on the side of the road with flashers clicking
on and off in the middle of the night and he never even slowed
down. Jeannie said “and while you’re at it you can tell that
State Patrolman what he can do with those blue lights on the top
of his car”. (I cleaned that up slightly as I didn’t think I
should put the exact words on my web site.) We echoed her
comments and the On Star man laughed and assured us we were on
the right road. Jeannie said, “I didn’t think he could hear me”.
I told her he could probably hear us breathe….but I’ll bet we
made his day.
I love to host the Midnite Jamboree which I did on August 13th.
Some of the audience came strictly for that. I know if I start
trying to remember who all was there I’ll probably leave out
someone so I’ll just say, “I love and appreciate you being there
and hope you had as much fun as I did”.
August 23rd to September 8th I was at Dollywood appearing as an
Opry Legend guest in one of the many great shows there titled
“Back Where I Come From”. No matter where you go in Dollywood
it’s always a great experience. I love being there. One evening
during my stay at Pigeon Forge, my friend Ron Harman and I
attended Louise Mandrell’s show….as many of you know, December
31st will mark Louise’s final performance at her theater which
opened back in 1997. I don’t know where Louise finds all of her
energy, but I do know she is one of the finest entertainers
anywhere and her show will be missed.
I don’t know how many of you have ever been to The Moving
Wall….it’s one half the size sections of the Vietnam Memorial in
Washington, D.C. and is trucked from location to location. That
way it’s available for so many people to see who otherwise
wouldn’t have the chance. This past October 3rd it was in my
hometown of West Plains, Missouri. I was there as one of several
“Gold Star Mothers” to present a wreath on the Wall on opening
day….not as a celebrity but as a mother who has lost a loved one
serving on active duty with our Military. Also, the city of West
Plains has built a Memorial in the city park on which they
installed a brick with my son Jimmy’s name on it. I thank
everyone in West Plains for honoring my son in this way.
On October 9th and 10th I was in Yoakum, Texas where I played in
the Red Steagall golf tournament. This one benefits the
Bluebonnet Youth Ranch; a home for abused and neglected
children. It’s supported by private funding such as this
tournament. Some of these children are short time residents but
many live there through high school. It’s certainly a privilege
for me to be a part of something that can help form these
In October I was part of the Grand Ole Opry’s 80th Birthday
celebration and also attended a special event at the WSM radio
tower in Brentwood. I’m proud to be part of the Opry tradition
and appreciate all the fans, many of whom have been with me
throughout my 34 years as an Opry member.
R.O.P.E. (Reunion of Professional Entertainers) had its annual
dinner and awards show on October 20th. This year it was
dedicated as a tribute to Jean Shepard….and I don’t know of
anyone in the music industry who deserves a tribute more. By the
time you read this she will have celebrated her 50th year as a
member of the Grand Ole Opry. I respect her for what she has
accomplished in her life but I love her as a friend as well.
We’ve been down a lot of roads together, some bad, some
good….but we’ve been there together. She is truly a GRAND LADY.
As I mentioned, this was also an awards dinner. And I was
shocked, surprised, humbled and honored to receive the Ernest
Tubb Humanitarian of the Year Award. I know there are many who
deserve this more than I, but I will cherish it always.
I guess I’ve rambled on long enough. My fingers are tired and my
back hurts from sitting in this chair. I’ll try not to let
another six months pass before writing another Home Page
Thanks for hanging in there with me. And remember, THIS IS NOT A
REHEARSAL, THIS IS THE SHOW AND THERE ARE NO RETAKES.
Be good to YOU!..
It's that time again. Spring has sprung, the grass is ris...wonder
where them flowers is. I heard that somewhere. Well, my flowers
don't ris, rise or whatever...they just die. I'm the only person
I know who has a brown thumb. A friend says "just say a few
words over the old flowers and plant new ones" so that's what
I'm fixing to do. She buys them in pots and plants the whole
thing...pots and all. Does anyone else do that?
Things have been kinda quiet so far this year. I'm still trying
to get my life back together after the fire. Even though I'm
back in my condo I'm still "doing things." I go to get something
and realize it isn't there and won't be. I never realized how
traumatic a fire can be till now. But, all in all, I know I'm
very fortunate and these "things" are just "things" and I have
to let go. When I begin to feel sorry for myself I think of
families with children who go through this and end up with
absolutely nothing and nowhere to go. Then I say a prayer and
Have finally finished dealing with insurance companies (I hope).
One thing I advise everyone to do...read the fine print in the
policies. We usually just sign and assume it's right. Not
necessarily so. I'm surprised my company didn't cancel me....or
at least, they haven't yet.
On February 4th my granddaughter, Mitsi, went with a mission
group from her church to Honduras for two weeks as an assistant
with a medical team to treat people there in the outlying areas.
She brought back pictures, one of which I'll add to the web
site. One night she, Anita (my other granddaughter) and I went
to dinner during which she told of some of her experiences and
the people there. Some were so graphic I can't describe them.
But seeing those pictures made me, once again, realize how
fortunate we are to live in this country. Even in the worse
scenario it's still the greatest country in the world. I asked
if she'd go back again. She said "probably, but I'll have to
wait awhile till I get some pictures out of my mind."
February 14th, Valentine's Day, is also a day to salute
Veterans. I had the privilege of visiting with the patients at
the Nashville Veterans hospital and I wish a woman I met a while
back had been with me. After one of the performances at
Dollywood she came up to me and said "the trouble with this
country is we no longer have heroes...there are no more John
Waynes." I told her "you're right in one sense of the word,
there are no more John Waynes. But he was a fictional hero in
the movies. We have real heroes. Have you ever visited a
Veteran's Hospital? Or a National Cemetery? Or given a moment's
thought to those serving right now in our military to protect
our freedom? Freedom isn't free and we do have heroes." I don't
mean to get on my soap box, but she sure got on the wrong side
of me. I'm sorry if I lost a fan but I will not stand still for
someone saying "we no longer have heroes."
Speaking of our Veteran heroes, on March 7th I was invited to
Washington D.C to attend the National Convention of the Veterans
of Foreign Wars where I was presented with the Gold Medal of
Merit. The award was presented by the VFW Commander-In-Chief,
John Furgess, who happens to be from here in Nashville. I felt
very undeserving but highly honored and will cherish it always.
Just yesterday I received the beautifully framed Citation along
with a shadow box to display the medal. It will hold a place of
honor in my home.
While in Washington I visited the WWII Memorial, the Korean
Memorial and revisited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. If you're
in the area I hope you'll visit these awesome sights which are
dedicated to those who served, fought and died for this country.
As many of you know, my son Jimmy is among the 58,000 names on
the Vietnam Memorial which was dedicated on November 13, 1982,
and today is our nation's most visited memorial. My son Corky,
also a Vietnam veteran, escorted his brother's body home.
The month of March resulted in another birthday coming and
going. As for me, I just don't associate with numbers. Someone
asked recently "how old are you anyway?" I just replied jokingly
"that's a personal question. Besides, I've lied so many times
I've forgotten what age is right." There it is...another lie.
But I'm grateful for every day. And only God knows how many
there will be.
I wrote something one time that said "This is not a rehearsal.
This is the show. And there are no retakes". Just before my
birthday my friend, Ron, brought to me this heavy wrapped
package all tied with a pretty ribbon. Inside was a plaque which
read: THIS IS NOT A DRESS REHEARSAL. It is now placed on my
stairwell where I'll see it each time I walk up or down the
stairs. Each time I see it I'm reminded that we shall not pass
this way again. And every moment is to be cherished.
While I'm on the subject of birthdays I'd like to say "thank
you" for all of the beautiful cards. Not only then but at
Christmas, the New Year, Easter and other times during the year.
You never forget. And I'm so blessed to have your friendship.
Another milestone...March 27th was my anniversary at the Opry...thirty
four years! I keep saying this, but where has the time gone? I
really never think about it till someone wants to do an
interview about the 'legends' in country music. They say "you
know, the ones who started it." Well, I wasn't there when it was
started but I'm grateful for the many years I've been in this
business, the people I've met and the long lasting friendships.
Again, thank you.
A new Opry book will be out soon. Everyone had new pictures
made...I did but have no idea which one they'll use. Frankly, I
hate posed pictures. They also asked for a new biography...but
how can I rewrite my history? Guess I'll leave it in their hands
and see what they come up with. It may be interesting.
My friend Tony Smith who lives in Ohio came down recently to
play golf for three days. He wanted to get out of the bad
weather up there. We had one good day then, guess what, it
rained and was cold as all get out. He finally gave up and went
home. The weather was better there. Hopefully it stays that way
as I'm going there to Middletown, OH, on May 14th to host a golf
tournament to benefit children's diabetes.
Oh, I almost forgot. Recently a good friend of mine and Jeannie
Seely's, Ron Harman, hosted a group of family and friends to go
on the Nash Trash bus tour here in Nashville and we were
invited. I have to tell you that the Nash Trash ladies, Sheri
Lynn and Brenda Kay, are so funny my sides ached for a week from
laughing. If you're in Nashville and have the time, go on the
tour. You'll be glad you did!
I guess that's almost it for now. Other things such as show
dates and appearances will be posted on the 'On The Go' Page. I
would put them here but that would be overkill. Don't look for a
lot of working dates though as I still plan to find "time for
I'd like to close with some thoughts and sentiments. When I was
a little girl it was not in my wildest dreams where my life
would lead. Somehow, even now some things are still like dreams.
I remember one time standing, looking out over a beautiful
seaport in Hobart, Tasmania, and thinking "how did Lula Grace
Johnson from West Plains, Missouri, ever get to Tasmania?"
To say it was a rocky, crooked road is putting it mildly. First,
taking my three little boys and moving to California was a giant
step. Then meeting and marrying Harlan Howard who was just
starting out as a songwriter. That led to making demos for him
which led to a recording career. The move to Nashville was
another giant step, for both of us.
After appearing as a guest on the Grand Ole Opry for several
years, being made a member in 1971 was the highest of honors. In
September of that same year the ribbon was cut for Jan Howard
Expressway which runs through West Plains. I still get chills
when I see those signs. And now, on May 22, 2005, I'm being
inducted into the Missouri Country Music Hall of Fame in
Springfield, Missouri. This honor is not taken lightly. A
sincere "thank you" comes from deep within my heart.
Have a wonderful, healthy and fun-filled summer.
Love you all,
Previous Messages From Jan
No, I haven't faded into the sunset….not yet anyway. And I
haven't jumped off a bridge, although I've sort of felt like it
a few times in the past few months. I guess the best way to
explain my absence from the website is just to start….so here it
On May 29th I had been working at my desk (in my pajamas) all
morning when suddenly the lights began flickering. Thinking it
was a light bulb going bad, I decided to turn it off and go take
a quick power nap before getting dressed to run some errands.
Then, realizing I hadn't eaten any breakfast I decided to go fix
a sandwich, after which I planned to get into the shower. I live
in a townhouse so my kitchen and my living/dining room area are
downstairs, while my office and my bedroom are upstairs. Thank
God I was hungry….if I hadn't been I probably wouldn't be
writing this now. You see, my bedroom is about ten feet across
the hall from my office. I fixed a bacon and tomato sandwich and
had taken three bites when the smoke alarm went off. I ran to
the bottom of the staircase and looking up all I could see were
flames and thick, black smoke coming from my office and bedroom.
I called 911 and ran back to the stairwell. After taking about
four steps up I couldn't breathe due to the smoke. I realize now
how quickly people can die from smoke inhalation.
The fire department responded within ten minutes, but those ten
minutes seemed like an eternity. I know I was in shock because
all I remember is hearing sirens and a popping sound coming from
upstairs. I learned later that if I had made it upstairs I would
probably have been electrocuted because that popping sound was
electricity. Suddenly the house was filled with firemen,
neighbors, my son, daughter-in-law, granddaughters, and my
brother. I don't know who called them….or how they got their
numbers. People kept saying, "You've got to get out of here". I
ran to the patio. "No," they said….out of here!" I was still in
my silk pajamas.
After the fire was out and danger was past, they let me grab a
few clothes for emergency laundry and dry cleaning. I learned
later that all I grabbed were two pair of jeans, two white
t-shirts, and a pile of clothes I had laid out to give to
Goodwill. I was out of it….and could not believe this had
happened. That night I went to Corky and Pam's house (my son and
daughter-in-law), and the next day I went back to the condo. It
was horrible. Windows were broken out, both from the fire and
where the firemen had thrown furniture and numerous other things
out onto the shrubbery and planted area out front. I walked
around in a daze just looking at the damage, the extent of which
I was not to know until later. I gathered a few more clothes and
went back to Corky and Pam's. Oh yes, the fire inspector came
and after looking at the things thrown out of the office window
he walked right over to an antique desk lamp and said, "this is
the culprit". Evidently it had a faulty cord which had burned up
into the base. I decided I'll never buy anything old like that
again. I'm not sure, but I think I worked the Opry that
weekend….but like I said, I was in a fog.
For the next four and a half months my home was the Hampton Inn
and Suites in the Green Hills area of Nashville. The people
there were wonderful….they got to where they didn't even blink
an eye when I came down for the continental breakfast in a
warm-up suit with no makeup on….and seeing me going to and from
the laundry to wash what pitiful few clothes I had with me. By
the time I left I was on a first name basis with everyone there
from the housekeeping staff to the executives.
I always try to do what I obligate myself for, so on June 3rd I
traveled to Linton, Indiana, to participate in the Phil Harris
Golf Tournament hosted by Roy Clark. It's always been fun and
this year was no exception. I love Linton and the people
there….and everyone in Roy's organization is a joy to be around.
Hopefully I'll be returning there.
From then until July 23rd my life was taken up with checking
most every day to see what progress was being made on the condo.
Many days were discouraging and frustrating because no work was
being done, and since everything in the office and many other
things had to be replaced I was choosing carpet, getting with
the drapery people, and in general trying to stay out of a
mental institution. (I've made it so far.)
On July 4th I went to Corky and Pam's home which is built on the
highest hill in the Goodlettsville area. From their deck we had
a clear view of the fireworks both from a nearby park and from
downtown Nashville which is twenty six miles away. What a
beautiful sight. And there were almost thirty people on that
deck so they now know that the builder did a good job.
Having noticed that something had chanced with my vision, I made
an appointment with my eye doctor. Lo and behold, he said I had
developed cataracts….what a shock! The only consolidation was
when he said they were caused not only by birthdays but by
stress. I qualified for both. Next came an appointment with the
surgeon and he verified the diagnosis and we set dates for two
surgeries….two weeks apart. More on that later.
I was scheduled to perform at Ponderosa Park in Salem, Ohio, on
July 25th….so on July 23rd I set out to drive to Ohio. Since I
was going from Salem to Dollywood to work for two weeks, I had
everything but the kitchen sink in the car, but the weight made
for good traction in case of rain. I stopped just north of
Cincinnati to spend the night with friends, Richard and Marilyn
Smith, and to play a round of golf the next day before getting
back on the highway. I felt like Willie Nelson…."on the road
The show at Ponderosa Park was not only successful, but fun as
well. I love working with my friends and this time they were
Stonewall Jackson, Bobby Bare, and Jerry Reed. And since I'm a
true fan I stood at the side of the stage and watched each of
their shows….fantastic! I was proud just to share the stage with
such great talent. After spending the night I left the next
morning bound for Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
I was scheduled to open at Dollywood on July 26th, but since it
was a twelve hour drive from where I was there was no way I
could make it. Jeannie Seely graciously came up to work that
first day for me….that's what friends are for, right? So since I
wasn't on a tight schedule I rented an audio book on tape and
decided to take the scenic route through the mountains. Guess
what….it rained the whole way. There are parts of that scenic
route that are nothing but hairpin curves way above the clouds.
I was thankful for that weight in my trunk. I was going to stop
halfway and spend the night but all the motels were full, so
after several glasses of caffeinated iced tea I decided to just
drive on in. About nine o'clock that night I arrived. Jeannie,
not expecting me until the next day, was in bed and almost
asleep. I was in the mood to talk….but she wasn't. With four
shows facing her the next day she finally turned both the lights
and me off and that was that.
It's always a joy to work with Randy Parton and everyone in the
cast and crew of his show. They've gotten to be almost like
family….and they are definitely dear friends. The following two
weeks flew by. The Smiths from Ohio and a friend of theirs,
Beverly Claunch, came for a few days. They enjoyed the area and
except for one day when Tony Smith, Bev, and I got in a round of
golf, I mainly worked….but I really enjoyed their visit. And
Judy Daigle came for a whole week….she attended every show.
Bless her heart, I know she must have gotten tired of hearing
the same songs and the same jokes….but if she did, she never let
on. We both have a mutual friend there, Ann Allen, so they got
to spend some time together. Before I knew it, it was time to
pack and head back to Nashville.
My first eye surgery was on the 12th of August. I was dreading
it, but before I had time to get nervous, it was over. The worst
part was having to wear huge, black goggles when I was in any
light. I asked permission to wear my Versace glasses….that was
promptly denied. Keeping track of when and which eye drops to
put in every few hours was not much fun….as well as wearing a
patch over my eye at night….and not wearing any makeup for two
weeks. That part was traumatic….I just pretended like I was
The first day I could wear makeup I flew to Carthage, Texas,
where Bill Anderson, Little Jimmy Dickens, and I did a show for
the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. The last time I was there
was in 1998 when I had the honor of inducting a dear friend, Tex
Ritter, into the Hall of Fame. This year the inductees were J.P.
Richardson (The Big Bopper), Mac Davis, and Johnny Lee. If
you're in the area, stop by the museum….it's wonderful!
A few days after I returned from Carthage, I had my second eye
surgery. Again, for two weeks it was no makeup and the big,
black goggles. Once again I was invisible.
Oh, I almost forgot….sometime in July (I forget the exact date),
I went to west Tennessee to participate in a charity golf
tournament benefiting the law enforcement officers of that area.
Upon leaving, I had gone about twenty miles when I saw blue
lights flashing behind me and of course I pulled over. A young
State Patrolman walked up to my car and asked to see my license.
Without really looking at me he said, "Did you know you were
going 58 in a 35 mile zone?" I told him I hadn't seen any sign
and thought it was 55. He was writing something which I presumed
was going to be a ticket. I asked the officer how come he had
stopped me when everyone else on the highway had passed me like
I was almost standing still. He said, "Well, counting you I got
two of them." I knew another artist, who shall remain nameless,
had left the tournament just before me so I asked "Was the other
person so and so?" The officer said, still without looking at
me, "Yeah, he was coming from some golf tournament and was going
68". "Did you give him a ticket?" I asked. "No", he said. "He
gave me a CD though". I said, "Well I'm coming from that same
golf tournament and it was to benefit the law enforcement
officers of this area". He handed me the ticket and said, "Slow
down". The next night I saw that nameless artist at the Opry and
asked if he had been stopped on the way home from the
tournament. He laughed and said, "Yeah, but I gave him a CD and
he let me go". After telling him my experience he said, "I
wasn't going 68, I was going 82". Would you call that
discrimination??? Anyway, a lesson was learned….slow down.
Two weeks after the last eye surgery I headed back to
Texas….Plano this time. The night of the show, the minute I
walked into the theatre I began getting hoarse. The theatre was
beautiful, but old….and I'm allergic to dust and mold. I drank
water, chewed on cough drops and lemons, and talked a lot. Thank
God for a very talented musician and singer by the name of
Justin Trevino who knew every song I had ever recorded,
including the duets with Bill Anderson and Wynn Stewart. He has
a great voice and musically saved my life and reputation that
night….but the people were wonderful and very understanding. If
they'll have me I'll go back there in a minute.
September 25th was "Welcome Home Jan Howard Day" in my hometown
of West Plains, Missouri. I was, and still am very honored….but
knowing I had to deal with some memories - the death of my
sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and my mother - and that I
wanted to visit some gravesites, I went a few days early. It was
hard but I knew they would have been proud. It had been a long,
The next few days were hectic, but fun. I had the opportunity to
see people I hadn't seen in years….visited the radio station,
the senior center (which I wish had been there when my mother
was living), drove a horse and wagon….I really did. I had lunch
at the Ozark Café which has been there for (I think) fifty five
years with the original owners still doing the cooking and
serving. I visited the newspaper office (the West Plains Daily
Quill) and every shop on the square….most of which I had worked
in at one time or another. It was great.
The night of the 25th was show time. I was honored to have two
of my closest and dearest friends, Bill Anderson and Jeannie
Seely, there to share that special night with me. As usual, they
were great and the audience loved them. Also there was my
brother Bob who had a ball. He makes friends everywhere he goes
and that night was no exception. On stage I was presented with
an official Jan Howard Expressway sign and a Key to the City
which is now framed and hangs in my office. The sign, since it
is eight feet long and three feet high, is on display at the
Welcome Center in West Plains along with some of my CDs, books,
etc. If you're in the area please stop by. The folks there will
definitely make you feel very welcome! And to make everything
complete I will return to West Plains the 20th of November to be
Grand Marshall in the Christmas Parade….and possibly have a
piece of coconut cream pie at the Ozark Café.
On October 30th I hosted the Midnight Jamboree and was proud to
have George Hamilton IV as a special guest. Thanks to all who
came out to the show or listened on WSM radio.
Before I forget, I recently attended the new musical "Could It
Be Love" starring Jeannie Seely, Helen Cornelius, and a cast of
other very talented actors. They performed to a sold out
audience every night and received standing ovations. It was
fantastic! There's a chance the play may be taken on the road
and if so, please make plans to attend….you won't be sorry. The
talented writer and director of the musical is Kaine Riggan.
I spent another enjoyable evening in early November attending
the Rita Coolidge concert with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra.
The guest conductor, Matt Catingub from Hawaii, was wonderful.
Words to describe Rita's performance escape me. "Awesome" is
only a start. I can only image the thrill it must be to perform
with an orchestra of that caliber….and when Rita sang her
closing number, "Amazing Grace" in her Cherokee Native American
tongue, you could have heard a pin drop.
I promise….this message is coming to an end….but don't look for
too much new on the "On The Go" Page unless it's for fun.
Between the fire and the eye surgeries I'm ready for a serious
vacation. I know I've said this before but this time I mean it.
I've only played golf a few times this whole year and my game
shows it. I never was that great and it's only gone downhill
from there. A cruise sounds wonderful right now….if I can decide
where I'd like to go. Maybe Alaska in the spring….
Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and may this coming New
Year be the best ever for you and yours.
My sincere thanks for supporting me and my music….Thru The
Several of you have reminded me it’s time to write a
new Home Page message….thanks for checking in and keeping
me on my toes. And thanks for caring. Speaking of checking in,
I used to be able to personally answer all those who sign the
Guestbook Page but unfortunately that changed when the inappropriate
messages were left and I had to temporarily discontinue the
Guestbook signing. I hated that because I enjoyed writing and
thanking everyone for taking the time to leave messages and
sign the Guestbook. So this is my collective way of doing that….Thank
you so much. Please keep leaving messages though on the Guestbook….I
read every one.
Since I ended the last Home Page message after returning from
San Antonio in November, I’ll begin this one with Thanksgiving.
As always, it was held at Corky and Pam’s (for those of
you who don’t know, that’s my son and daughter-in-law)
for three reasons….they have a large home, Pam has a large
family, and Corky loves to cook. But he doesn’t get all
of the credit….everyone pitched in. Pam’s mother
(Margaret Chance) always brings the dressing, and it’s
wonderful. Everyone brings something. My contribution was marinated
mushrooms and two pecan pies. And of course there’s turkey,
wild game, turnips and turnip greens, plus numerous other dishes.
I can’t remember the whole menu but I’m sure everyone
gained a few pounds. But the most important thing is that it
was a time for family and giving thanks for our many blessings.
All we have to do is look around to realize just how blessed
Now that I’ve written about all that food and gaining
a few pounds, I have to tell you….I’ve joined a
fitness center called Curves for Women. It’s thirty minutes
of non-stop exercise. Yes, I’ve gained five pounds and
have to get it off. Once past the lips, forever on the hips….and
other places. I went today and right now every bone and muscle
in my body hurts, but I intend to stick with it. Hopefully soon
we’ll have some decent weather and I’ll be able
to play golf….that will help. I can’t wait.
Thank God that many of our military have returned home from
Iraq. But there are many still there, in other places on foreign
soil, and in harms way every day. Please keep them and their
families in your prayers. During the Christmas season I was
privileged to attend some gatherings at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
And even though their loved ones were deployed, these families
were there to support each other. I admire them tremendously.
Christmas was another beautiful time. Christmas Eve everyone
attended the candlelight service at the church where Corky and
Pam attend. It seats 7,500 and every seat was filled….in
fact there was standing room only. It was breathtaking. And
they had three services that evening. Afterwards we all went
back to the house, had dinner, played Christmas music, and opened
presents. The most precious present I received was spending
time with my family. That’s something money can’t
buy. While I’m on the subject of Christmas, I want to
take this opportunity to thank everyone for remembering me at
the holidays with all the beautiful cards I received.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day was spent with
friends. What a great ending of one year and beginning of another.
On January 30th I headed for Stephenville, Texas. The people
there were so great….typical Texas hospitality. Beth and
Carroll Parham host a show there called The Cross Timbers Country
Opry, and have for many years. I was to work on Saturday night.
Friday night I was a guest on Carroll’s radio show. Suddenly
I looked up and in walked someone I hadn’t seen in many
years….Johnny Seay. What a nice surprise. I don’t
know how many remember Johnny but he has a beautiful voice,
and recorded some great songs in the sixties. In fact he is
mentioned in my book. You’ll have to read it to find out
what I said. Anyway, he quit the music business and moved to
Texas where he still lives, flies a crop duster, and loves it.
The next night we had a full house at the show….the audience
was wonderful. Tracy Pitcox from Brady, Texas, brought a bus
load of thirty people. Those folks love traditional country
music, and I love every one of them.
Shortly after returning home I went to Atlanta, Georgia, to
visit my friend Mary Anne Summers, and on to Kissimmee, Florida,
where I played golf with Jimmy C. Newman for two days. The weather
was great – 75 and 80 degrees both days. My game was so-so
but I had a ball. On one hole I went to my tees and laying about
twenty feet in front was a seven foot alligator sunning himself.
Jimmy C. said “don’t hit him, you’ll make
him mad”. I didn’t care where the fairway was, I
hit in the opposite direction of the alligator.
On February 12th I and about thirty other artists played the
Florida State Fair….two sold-out houses of 5,000 each.
I don’t care what the radio stations and the “big
wigs” say, the audience is still there. God bless them.
After driving thirteen hours straight through, I finally arrived
home around midnight on the night of the 13th. I was exhausted.
That is among the top five things I will never do again. I got
my luggage inside but didn’t bother to unpack for three
days. I sure wasn’t going anywhere.
I’m a firm believer that you should always keep trying
to learn new things throughout life, and I’m doing just
that by taking some Spanish lessons. My teacher is Brenda Allen,
a Spanish school teacher here in Nashville who also works weekends
at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Well, I’ve talked your ears off long enough. I’ll
update my On The Go Page soon. All I can say right now is I’m
going to be playing as much golf as possible and enjoying every
day. I don’t know the dates on Dollywood yet, but will
keep you posted. Hope to see you there.
God Bless you, my friends.
It’s that time again. Seems like only yesterday that
I wrote the last Home Page message. But, as the saying goes,
time passes quickly when you’re having fun or it’s
time to take medicine.
This will probably be short as I can’t think of a whole
lot that would be interesting to anyone but me. I have a new
saying – “If it isn’t fun, don’t do
it.” And even though it may be work I try to make it as
much fun as possible.
I wasn’t scheduled to go back to Dollywood until September
29th but ended up going on September 19th. Jim Ed Brown was
scheduled at that time but due to an unfortunate accident in
which he broke his heel (ouch!), Jeannie Seely filled in one
week and me the next. Everyone at Dollywood was so looking forward
to him being there. I told the audience I knew they were disappointed
but the best I could do was to sing one line of “Pop A
Top”, which I did. But, being the trooper and professional
that he is, Jim Ed came (cast, crutches and all) and worked
three days when I went to Thomasville, NC, to work with Jeannie
and Jack Greene. Due to being tired and some unforeseen stress
I almost totally lost my voice on the second show. Buck Owens
used to say “just tell them you’re being sexy”…no,
in this case I just plain sounded hoarse. But the audience was
wonderful. Before leaving the next morning Jeannie and I went
to the Waffle House and loaded up on cheese eggs and raisin
The drive back to Dollywood was beautiful. It has been a long
time since I had driven through that area so I just took my
time and enjoyed every minute. The scenery was breath taking.
Someone once said, “Life is not measured by the number
of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath
away”…that is so true. Thank God, I’ve had
a few, and I’m looking forward to more.
The next two weeks were more than enjoyable. I just kinda got
into a routine at Dollywood. Since the shows were at 11:00 and
1:00, except for Saturday when they were at 10:00 and noon,
I had time for golf which I played six times. I played one course
so far back in the mountains the folks there only had first
names on their mailboxes. Seriously, the ‘On Star’
service in my car couldn’t even find the course. But I
finally did. Everyone playing in the tournament worked at Dollywood.
It was great. I didn’t win anything except, hopefully,
a few friends which is much more important. And again, I can’t
say enough good things about the cast and crew of Randy Parton’s
“Country State of Mind” show. A true pleasure to
share the stage with them, even for a few minutes. So talented,
and so nice. I’ve decided to adopt them all.
I was home for a few days during which time I participated
in a program saluting the women of country music at the Country
Music Hall of Fame and Museum. I enjoyed spending part of the
day at a Q&A session and autograph signing with Goldie Hill,
Jeannie Seely, and Sharon and Cheryl White. Later that night
I helped welcome Del McCoury as the newest member of the Grand
The following day I, and several other Opry artists, went to
San Antonio, TX, for the Moe Bandy Golf Classic which benefits
the Children’s Transplant program. As always I was honored
to be invited. Moe has been giving his time and name to this
event for seventeen years, and does so with his whole heart.
The volunteers there work so hard all year to make it a success,
and when you actually see the children who have transplants,
thanks to this event, it makes it all worthwhile. I have to
tell you one funny story though. The first day of golf I walked
out of my room and decided it was a little cool so I dressed
for it…cotton turtleneck and a light wind shirt. About
five minutes before tee time I knew it was a wrong decision…much
too warm. A young woman in the cart ahead whose name was Camille
Noble said “I have a short sleeve shirt in the car”
and sent her friend to get it. With not enough time to return
to my room to change, we headed for a clump of trees behind
the golf carts. With her holding her jacket in front of me,
I stripped off my turtleneck and wind shirt, quickly donned
her shirt and tucked it into my golf pants. I returned to my
cart just in time with no one the wiser…hopefully.
Well, I said this would be short when I started writing but
I guess it’s become longer than I thought it would. I
finally got unpacked last night but still haven’t gone
to the cleaners and all that other stuff. But most importantly,
I have to go to the grocery store…my cupboards are bare
and I’m really hungry.
I apologize that I’ve had to discontinue the signing
on the Guestbook page of my Web site. Someone took offense when
I refused to dignify her very graphic and personal question
with an answer. So now, every time we’ve tried to turn
the Guestbook page back on there have been some really disgusting
messages appear. Not one but several each time. It is unfortunate
that someone has nothing better to do with their time…I’ll
keep trying to get the page back up again though and I hope
you will understand in the meantime.
I’ll leave you with this thought. Someone said to me
recently, “the trouble with this country is we no longer
have heroes….there are no more John Waynes.” They’re
right in one respect…there will never be another John
Wayne. Nor will there ever be another of the many Veterans who
have served, fought, and paid the ultimate price for the freedom
which this country enjoys. I have many heroes. First, our military
who serve in harms way every day, asking nothing in return except
the honor and respect which they so richly deserve. And their
families. They have my utmost respect and admiration. The Firefighters
who, right now, are risking their lives to save homes and lives
in California and other places. Teachers, who hold the future
of this country in their hands. And there are so many more heroes
I can’t list them all. Just look around you, there are
heroes everywhere. Now and then, even if just silently, say
God Bless you. And thank you for your love and support “Thru
It’s the middle of August and hot as all get out. But
not as hot as it is in other places, thank goodness. Just today
there was a terrible power outage in four states and Canada.
According to CNN there were over 50 million affected. No matter
how bad we think we have it there is always someone worse off
and another reason to count our blessings. Just a few days ago
I played in a golf tournament in Jackson, TN to benefit the
tornado victims there. The night before I took a tour of the
devastated area there. What a shame…nine lives lost and
whole areas totally destroyed. In addition to the golf tournament
Vince Gill, Amy Grant, and Daryl Worley performed a concert.
To give of their time and talent for this cause shows the caliber
of people they are.
I’ve had a busy summer…how about you? Mine has
consisted of some work and as much fun as possible. Once again
I played in the Phil Harris Golf Tournament (hosted by Roy Clark)
in Linton, Indiana, the last of May. I look forward to that
event every year. The people there are so nice. Hope I haven’t
worn out my welcome and that they’ll invite me back. Maybe
they’ll see this letter and get the hint.
The Golden Voice Awards show was held this year at the Sheraton
Hotel downtown. As usual it was a big success. Bettie Walker
outdid herself as producer. I really don’t know how she
does it. But I do know, in addition to everything else she does,
she works tirelessly for several months putting this event together.
Please give her a big “mental” round of applause.
I was so proud and honored to receive the Female Vocalist Award
but I voted for Goldie Hill and just had to SHARE it with her.
I hope everyone understands that I didn’t GIVE the award
away. Jean Shepard received the Career Achievement Award. I
can’t think of anyone more deserving. You can check out
the other winners at www.GoldenVoiceAwards.com.
On June 14th Jeannie Seely, Jean Shepard, and I worked in Ashland,
Kentucky. Since it was within driving distance I left that morning
and just decided to “enjoy the day”. I’ve
never been so lost so many times in a row. Guess I was day dreaming.
That’s a no-no when you’re driving. I saw a lot
of beautiful country though and met some interesting people
when I stopped for directions…several times. Working with
Jean and Jeannie is always fun. Wish we could work more together.
Two great gals, and dear friends.
On June 28th I was in Flandreau, South Dakota, at the Royal
River Casino along with Jeannie Seely, T.G. Shepard, Jimmy Dickens,
and Bobby Bare. The people there were great. This was the first
time I’ve worked at a casino when I didn’t even
go near a slot machine. I’m a cheap gambler though (quarter
limit) so they wouldn’t have gotten much of my money anyway.
I’ve been told to think positive, and I do…I KNOW
I’m gonna lose. I worked with Bobby Bare’s band
and they had worked really hard at learning my material. It
On July 7th I settled in for my two weeks stay at Dollywood.
I can’t say enough good things about everyone connected
with that organization and the cast and crew of the “Country
State of Mind” show. They’re wonderful. And so talented.
They made me feel right at home. Every artist I have talked
with who has worked there says the same thing. I’m so
looking forward to returning on September 28th for another two
weeks. I do hope if you’re in the area you’ll stop
by and say hello. It’s always good to see old friends
and hopefully make new ones.
While I was at Dollywood I had the pleasure of attending Louise
Mandrell’s show. Louise is the ultimate entertainer….I
don’t know where she gets all of her energy but her show
is fabulous and I would highly recommend it to everyone.
On September 27th I’ll be in Thomasville, North Carolina,
with Jeannie and Jack Greene for two shows (1:00 and 7:00) at
the T. Austin Finch Auditorium. Hope you’ll put that date
on your calendar.
This is not an afterthought but I wanted to fill you in on
some family updates. At this moment Corky and Pam are on vacation
in the south of Florida. They flew into Ft. Lauderdale, rented
a car and were going to drive down through the Everglades and
on down to the Keys. They both deserved this much needed R&R
time. On July 4th we all gathered at their home for dinner and
watched the fireworks from their deck. Good family time.
Anita and Travis are settling into married life and are very
happy in their new home. I see them now and then but we all
seem to be going in different directions. But they’re
happy and that’s what I care about.
Had dinner with Mitzi the other night. She’s constantly
on the go. Loves to travel. Has plans now for more schooling
in the investment end of Commercial Real Estate. One week at
a time in different cities – Boston, Chicago, and San
Francisco….that way she can combine work with pleasure.
Bob and Margie (my brother and sister-in-law) are both doing
great. Some of you have met Bob when he was with me at different
shows and have asked about him. Since he and I are the only
two left of my family it’s good to have him near. They
live in Goodlettsville, TN.
Are you tired of reading yet? I’m tired of writing. Besides,
I’ve about run out of things to say except that this Sunday
I’m going up to Ohio for a few days of golf with friends.
And I may even go fishing. I’ve never been there except
as a joke on TV. I’ll get a signed affidavit though that
they won’t drown me or use me for bait.
Someone sent me an e-mail message that ended with “Life
may not be the party we would have chosen, but as long as we’re
here we might as well dance”. So, keep dancing.
Thanks for being my friends and supporting my music Thru The
I just realized the last Home Page began with “Happy
New Year” so this is overdue.
Since working the Florida State Fair and other dates in that
area in February, I’ve stuck pretty close to home. That
was my plan. Play golf, be home with my family and friends and
more important things like that. And more and more I realize
exactly what is important and what isn’t.
One very important date in my life was April 5th, the wedding
date of my granddaughter Anita and Travis Simpson. The setting
was in the McKendrie Methodist Church on Church Street in Nashville
which goes back to the Civil War and was used as a hospital
during that era. The whole evening was absolutely beautiful.
And Anita was gorgeous! A photo will be on the Jan and Friends
Page shortly so you can see for yourself. (That way you’ll
know it isn’t just a grandmother’s prejudice.) The
reception was held at the City Club atop the Suntrust Bank Building
in downtown Nashville, and it was everything a wedding reception
should be – dancing to a live orchestra, great food, good
friends, and a loving family. Remember the song “Tammy”?
Well, when the girls (Mitsi and Anita) were little Corky would
sing that song to them, replacing the name “Tammy”
with each of their names. At the reception the orchestra played
that song when Corky danced with Anita. When the vocalist sang
“Anita, Anita, Anita’s in love”, the lump
in my heart burst. A very proud moment. May Anita and Travis
always be as happy as they were that night.
Thank you for all your prayers for the safety of our military
during the war in Iraq. The battle has been won, but the war
isn’t over. This is a very troubled country and our troops
are still there and will be for some time so please continue
to keep them in your prayers. A horrible dictator is no longer
in power. Hopefully the people of Iraq will now be able to live
in a world free of fear. And upon their return I pray our troops
receive the honor they deserve.
On May 4th I attended a reception honoring the newest inductees
into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Porter Wagoner and the
late Bill Carlisle. Both have contributed so much, both to country
music and to the Grand Ole Opry. I wish the “powers that
be” would induct more than just two...so many great artists,
past and present, are deserving of that honor. That’s
just my opinion. That and $5.00 might buy you a cup of coffee.
On a sad note, country music and the world has lost more great
artists – Big Jim Webb, long time steel player for Del
Reeves, Johnny Paycheck, Felice Bryant, and yesterday I attended
the funeral of June Carter Cash. More reminders to cherish every
moment. As I’ve said many times, “This is NOT a
rehearsal, this IS the show, and there are no retakes.”
Even though I’ve enjoyed my time off, I’m looking
forward to going back to work. Some anyway. On June 14th the
Grand Ladies – Jean Shepard, Jeannie Seely, and I –
will be in Ashland, KY. I’ve learned that a redhead between
two blondes is a referee...got to learn some more “blonde”
On June 28th I, along with several other artists, will be in
Flandreau, SD at the Royal River Casino. I’m working with
Bobby Bare’s band. I’ve never worked with them before
and Bobby told them “she’s really hard to work with...she’ll
chew you out in a hot minute.” I hope I’ll prove
otherwise. It should be fun and interesting.
Except for one day last year with Jean and Jeannie I’ve
never worked Dollywood so I’m really looking forward to
being there. If you’re in the area, hope you’ll
stop by and say hello.
Guess I’ve rambled long enough. The day is half gone
and I’m still in my “jammies”.
Take care, be good to yourself, and cherish the moment.
Thanks for being “my friends”.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! I know it’s late, but that’s the
story of my life….a day late and a dollar short.
The Norway trip is now history. It was tiring and way too short,
but the people there are wonderful! On the way over I was really
hoping for three seats across and a long nap, but no such luck.
Due to the fact that several flights on other airlines had been
cancelled, every seat was filled. I ate everything that passed
before my eyes and read until my vision was blurred, then walked
the aisles trying not to think about the fact that I was cooped
up in this capsule flying several thousand feet in the air across
LOTS of water. After a safe landing and short layover in Copenhagen,
Denmark, we (Jeannie Seely, Jack Greene, and I) flew to Kristiansand,
Kristiansand was beautiful! It’s right at the southern
tip of Norway overlooking a gorgeous sea port. I can just imagine
what it would be like in the summertime. Of course, when were
there it was winter and everything looked covered with snow. It
was still like a fairyland. The hotel was great and the manager
and whole staff couldn’t have been nicer. We had one night
to rest before working.
The next day we and the band rode about six hours to Kongsberg
where we performed that night. It was still snowing but it didn’t
bother the driver at all…we just zoomed up those mountains
and around those curves like they weren’t even there. That
night I changed my whole show. One thing I learned the first night
was that the Norwegians like to party and dance. Therefore whatever
I sang was something they could dance to…and whether I wanted
to or not I even danced…but only long enough to get to the
edge of the dance floor and off. Oh yes, I have to tell you about
that afternoon…I decided to wash my hair only to find my
converter didn’t work. I panicked but thank God I had put
in some Velcro rollers. My hairdo was definitely “ala casual”.
After about four hours sleep we were on a bus headed for Oslo
where we boarded a flight back to Copenhagen and on to Chicago
and Nashville. Again, every seat was filled. By the time I got
home and into my very own bed I felt like my body had been hit
by a BIG Mack truck. But we had fun and met some wonderful people.
I just wish we had been able to stay longer. Next time…
We arrived home on Sunday night…Tuesday I came down with
a really bad case of the flu which put me down for five days.
Yes, I took the shot. Then, since it was supposed to snow on Sunday
night (and did), I left that morning for Clearwater, Florida,
where I was to work the next three days with Billy Walker and
Jack Greene. Every morning I sucked on lemons, drank hot tea,
and prayed for my voice. I just told the audience it was emotion
(that’s what Buck Owens used to say) and wouldn’t
charge extra. They were wonderful.
On Thursday we worked the Florida State Fair along with about
forty other artists. Two sold out shows that afternoon and evening
of ten thousand each. And they had to turn away over one thousand.
Who says that the audience isn’t there for traditional country
Yes, I had my golf clubs with me and had every intention of stopping
on the way home to play, but I didn’t. Right now they’re
gathering dust, but a friend is coming to Nashville the last of
March to play…hopefully the sun will be shining by then.
I’m ready for Spring…how about you?
I recently learned that my single “Evil On Your Mind”
has been included in a new book out called “Heartaches By
The Number: Country Music's 500 Greatest Singles” (written
by David Cantwell and Bill Friskics-Warren). I feel very honored
considering the thousands of singles released in country music
over the past several decades. Likewise, I feel very honored to
be recently nominated for a Golden Voice Award and for an Opry
Fans Connection International (OFCI) Award, both for “Female
Vocalist of the Year”.
Until the next time…thanks for your love and support Thru
As I write this letter Santa has gone back to
the North Pole for some well deserved rest and the New Year is
just a few days away. As always I can't believe this past year
has gone so quickly. Just recently it seems I took out the decorations,
and now they're back in storage for another year. I don't wish
for time to stop, but sure wish it would slow down.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with
friends and loved ones. And I can't thank you enough for all the
beautiful cards, well wishes, and gifts. But the most precious
gifts of all are our health - and Peace on Earth. The world is
in such a mess right now I'm thankful for each and every day and
all the blessings which I'm continually given. I hope you will
all pray for the safety of our Military who lay their lives on
the line every day to protect this country and our freedom.
I spent Christmas Eve with my son, Corky, my daughter-in-law,
Pam, my granddaughters, Mitsi and Anita, Anita's new fiancé,
Travis, and my brother Bob and his wife Margie. It was a beautiful
evening beginning with the whole family attending a candlelight
service. Then back to their home for Christmas dinner and presents.
Even though it was cold and drizzling rain I stood out on the
deck and counted my blessings. Driving home I was still thinking
about those blessings, got on the wrong street and ended up in
downtown Nashville. The streets were deserted and I felt like
everyone except me had been carried away. Christmas day I had
Christmas dinner with friends and then came home for a much needed
nap and more of counting my blessings.
So much has happened in the past year. Looking
back through my calendar I find that I played golf on the 14th
and 28th of January...must have been mild. I'm supposed to play
on the 8th and 9th of January this year with a friend from Ohio...hope
the weather cooperates. Continuing to look through the book I
find I played a LOT of golf. And that's good. God willing I'll
do that again this year. My accountant asked if my income would
be about the same this year as last. My answer to him was "no,
I'll be working less and enjoying it more". I still love
to work and am grateful for the ones who make this possible, but
when I'm no longer able to do it well I hope I have sense enough
to quit. I think I'll know when that time comes. When I say I'll
quit, I mean singing. After that I'll write. Songs maybe, but
definitely another book, probably fiction. I have all kinds of
ideas floating around in my head.
Speaking of books, a man called this morning
from Colorado asking if I could retain creative control would
I consider a movie on Sunshine and Shadow, my book. If they would
use the real story; the early years, the love between a mother
and three sons then I might consider the possibility. But not
if they dwelled upon just the bad things. I'll run it by Corky
and get his feelings and thoughts. That's first and foremost.
Then we'll see.
Speaking of Corky and Pam, they built a new home
this year. It's beautiful and I'm so very happy for them. Thanksgiving
was the first holiday there...twenty nine members of the combined
Another great happening was Mitsi's graduation
with her Master's Degree. She is so focused...takes after Corky.
And I'm so proud of her and for her. She's worked really hard.
When the pictures are changed on the web site there will be one
of that fantastic night. Needless to say the one in the cap and
gown is Mitsi.
I haven't dwelled much on work, that will be
on the "On The Go" page. Just wanted to update you on
other and more important things (at least in my life) and to thank
you once again for your continued love and support THRU THE YEARS.
God bless you in every walk of your life.
When I wrote
the letter in July I said "before you know it fall will be
here" and here it is. My favorite time of the year. The leaves
are just beginning to turn, but I know in just a short period
of time there will be an abundance of color everywhere I look.
That's when I really enjoy being on the golf course, sometimes
even by myself just enjoying the beauty of God's creation. I just
hope it lasts awhile before turning really cold. Seems like the
past few years it's summer one day and winter the next
that I had bought an ice cream freezer
well, I DID learn
how to use it. One night I invited my brother and sister-in-law,
Bob and Margie Johnson, over for grilled hamburgers and homemade
peach ice cream. The trouble was they only ate a small portion
and I was left with almost a gallon to put into the freezer. Guess
there's just a small portion left and I ate it all
more ice cream unless there's a lot of guests. So, ice cream is
out. But, I do love to bake and Ann Allen in Sevierville, TN keeps
sending me these delicious recipes
all very fattening. HELP!!!
On July 24th
I attended a very heart-warming event, the Changing of Command
at Fort Campbell, KY. I sat and listened as the 101st Airborne
Band played the military songs of all branches of service, saw
The Colors being brought in by troops in perfect precision, heard
cannons fired as each state's name was read, watched and joined
when everyone stood, hands over hearts as the National Anthem
was sung, saw the thousands of troops in full uniform on that
field and watched the Change of Command take place. The whole
ceremony took about three hours, but it was as if time stood still.
I was so proud of our military and the privilege of being an American.
was another exciting day. As part of the National Convention of
The Veterans of Foreign Wars, they had a Bike Ride to raise money
for active military families who have children with special needs.
Over four hundred veterans who happen to like to ride motorcycles
took part. Guess who was on the back of a big Harley
At the end of the ride I had serious "helmet hair",
but they presented a check to the Commander of the VFW for over
$100,000. And the Women's Auxiliary (of which I am a member) raised
over $70,000 for prepaid phone cards for deployed military and
their families. I was wishing they had had something like that
when my sons were in Vietnam.
Oh yes, in
addition to the above and the golf tournaments, I did work some
dates. You know how I believe in making the most of every day?
Well, recently I worked a date in Dover, PA. Wonderful people.
I love that part of the country so I went up the day before. I
flew into Baltimore, rented a car and drove about seventy five
miles to York, a few miles from Dover. After checking in it was
still only 3:30 in the afternoon. I wondered, "now, what
can I do with the rest of this beautiful day?" As it happened,
right across the street was this brand new golf course. I drove
over and asked the man in the pro shop if he had clubs to rent.
He did. Since I wasn't prepared I asked if I could play in tennis
shoes and a tee shirt
he said I could. I took off with my
rented clubs and played thirteen holes before it got dark. How
working date was with Jeannie Seely and Jean Shepard (two of my
best buddies) at Dollywood in September. When the three of us
sang "Making Believe", the crowd gave us a standing
ovation. What a compliment! I really wish the three of us could
work more together. We may get tired, but it isn't work
rambled on long enough. Got to get out my sweaters and put the
shorts away. And maybe make some of those fattening goodies Ann
sent to me. I'll invite Jeannie Seely over
she can eat them.
I love my friends. Till next time
Here it is the middle of July already. And hot
as all get out in Nashville, TN. But it's summer. And as quickly
as time passes, before we know it we will be wishing for some
warm weather. Never satisfied. In the meantime though I bought
an ice cream freezer (electric) and, as soon as I figure out how
it use it, am going to put it to good use. Doesn't homemade peach
ice cream sound good?
Thanks to everyone who has signed my Guestbook.
I've heard from people with whom I'd lost contact over the years.
It's great to get reacquainted by way of e-mail and catch up on
happenings in their lives. I really do care, so please continue
to keep in touch.
This summer has been kind of a lazy one for me.
Well, not exactly lazy but I'm just taking more time for myself.
And, as I've said before, "This is not a rehearsal. This
IS the show and there are no retakes." There are so many
things I want to do and I figure "Now is the time".
One saying of mine, "If not now, when?" keeps me broke,
but happy. This may be the time to get started writing that fiction
novel. I have three started and have written enough to keep the
characters and story in mind. With my imagination there's no telling
what the result will be. Maybe a romance novel
now THAT would
definitely take imagination. Another thing I want to do (and will
do) is to put my book "Sunshine and Shadow" on audio.
I've had so many requests to do so. Some parts will be hard to
relive so it may take awhile, but it will be good to remember
the good times.
I loved taking part in the "Bill Anderson
City Lights Festival" in Commerce, GA again this year. My
golf team, which came in first last year, didn't win but we had
a great time. It was nice to see Jimmy Dean and his wife Donna
Meade Dean, and to watch them perform at the dinner the night
before the concert. Great people. Very seldom do I stay over anywhere
just to watch a concert, but I did this time. I wasn't about to
miss a chance to see Ray Price, George "Goober" Lindsey,
Vince Gill, and Bill in full concert. It was time well spent.
They were all great and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute as a
On June 9th I was invited to play in the 42nd
Annual Major General's Golf Tournament at Fort Campbell, KY. What
an honor! My team consisted of the General himself, Richard A.
Cody, Colonel E.J. Sinclair, and Mason Rudolph, one of the top
golf professionals. If I was ever going to be intimidated it would
have been that day. But, I decided on that day they were just
golfers (Ha!). They were good sports to put up with me and my
very average ability as a golfer. At the end of the day General
Cody presented me with a beautiful lapel pin that bears the 101st
Airborne insignia, and he said "You are now an official 101st
Airborne Angel". Believe me, I will wear it often and with
pride. My son Corky (Carter) was in the 101st.
June 29th I hosted the Midnight Jamboree at the
Ernest Tubb Troubadour Theater on Music Valley Drive. As usual
I went overtime but when I'm there it's kind of expected. My guests
were Bobby Bare and Bare Jr. It was the first time they have been
on stage together since Bobby Jr. was six years old. A historic
moment. My other guests were the fabulous Chuck Wagon Gang. I
can't say enough good things about them and their music. A good
time was had by all.
Thanks for visiting my web site. Please be sure
to sign the Guestbook and leave a message. I'd love to hear from
First things first - thank you for being so patient
while we are getting the web site up and running. The bio and
discography had to be rewritten and updated. That is done now
(thanks to a very talented person and friend, Ron Harman). The
"store" is in place. The only thing not done was the
"Jan On The Go" page. But since I'm on the go, I'm the
only one who could do this. And I'm trying
I really am. Hang
in there, please.
I have several sayings which I try to live by.
One is "Don't plan so much for the future that you lose today".
In my case the future is now. Another is "Never let yesterday
use up today". Whatever was good in the past, cherish those
things but live in the present. It's all we really have.Another
saying is "If not now
when?" Jeannie Seely says
that philosophy of mine keeps her broke, but happy. Me too. Another
saying is "This is not a rehearsal, this is the show and
there are no retakes".
My favorite saying though is "Yesterday
is a canceled check. You can't write it again, but be thankful
for the time you had to spend. Tomorrow is a promissory note.
The only cash on hand is today
spend it wisely". I'm
trying to do just that.
I'm truly thankful for the many blessings God
has given to me; My health, My friends, My family, and My talent,
which has afforded me the privilege of being in Country Music
and a member of the Grand Ole Opry
for thirty one years now. And not the least of my blessings is
your support and love "thru the years". I have learned
the hard way not to take anything for granted. And I don't.
Seems like all of my life I have concentrated
on work, in one form or another. This is a year I have decided
to "be good to Jan". Therefore you will notice the "On
The Go" dates listed include a lot of golf tournaments. I
don't seem to get any better at mastering the game, but I sure
do enjoy trying. And I hope, if you're in the area of any of these
happenings you will come by and say "hello".
So check out the "On The Go" page to
see where I'm heading. There's also more to come. We'll keep you
up-to-date as time gets closer.
In between the golf tournaments I will be at
the Opry each weekend (hopefully). With all the new and talented
artists making guest appearances there aren't as many spots, but
I'm honored each time I step onto that stage. Therefore, till
my good sense tells me to quit, I'll be there as long as I do
what I do well. And when I don't, I hope God gives me the knowledge
to recognize that fact. I believe He will. Then I will write.
another book may be in the offering.
Thanks for visiting my web site. Before you go,
please be sure to sign my guest book.
And also please visit Jeannie Seely's web site at www.jeannieseely.com.
She's one of my best friends and a great artist.
Until next time. See ya