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June 1999 Article

Exclusively Found in the Insider Viewpoint of Las Vegas
"The Show Must Go On. . . Talent Runs Deep"
by Sharon Haynes

Sharon Haynes

"The Show Must Go On. . .Talent Runs Deep"

With a forty-week contract this year for the Patsy Cline Tribute Show, the Jordanaires and I share a mutual gratitude to work with such warm, wonderful folks like Michael Gaughan and Mike Growney at the Gold Coast. They give us a "home away from home" although we are still "on the road" with home and families in Tennessee.

With such lengthy appearance dates, occasionally one or more of the Jordanaires need to take a break for special reasons. Since the show must go on, the Jordanaire’s are well equipped with well-trained Jordanaires’ substitutes with impressive music industry accomplishments and history of their own to "crow about." When working with professionals like the Jordanaires, they leave nothing to chance.

Louis Nunley is currently appearing in the tribute show substituting for Duane West, baritone. Louis has served as a Jordanaires’ substitute for the last 45-years, but most frequently singing the bass part as substitute for Ray Walker. He refers to himself as "the fifth Jordanaire." He has sung as a Jordanaire on hundreds of shows and recordings, including most all of the Jordanaire albums recorded overseas.

His most recent session as a Jordanaire bass was with Don McLean, of "Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie" fame when they recorded thirty songs with him in Nashville in December 1998. Louis sang bass as a Jordanaire on several other McLean sessions and Carnegie Hall appearances through the years. He was with the Jordanaires for Kenny Rogers’ movie soundtrack recording "The Gambler." Louis’ music career started in 1953, after graduating from David Lipscomb College in Nashville, when he joined the Anita Kerr Singers and was on "Sunday Down South" radio show. Among their first recording sessions was Red Foley’s "Grandpappy’s New Banjo."

The Kerr’s and the Jordanaires performed behind virtually everyone that recorded in Nashville and overseas for several years. Often, they would pass each other on the steps at RCA while changing studios in the middle of sessions. Sometimes they would complete some of each other’s session work.

Louis, as a member of the Kerr Singers, said they won the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout Contest in 1956 and became regulars on the show for the rest of its run—until it went off the air in 1963. Louis said, "we were good friends of the McGuire sisters who also appeared regularly on the Godfrey show." In 1957 Phyllis McGuire was instrumental in insisting that Decca Records, the McGuire’s signed label, should also sign the Kerr group.

The Kerr’s then recorded their first album in New York—thanks to Phyllis! Louis said they traveled from Nashville to New York every couple of weeks for years—then landed a label deal with RCA in Nashville in 1960.

In 1965 they won two Grammys — "Best Performance by Vocal Group" and "Best Religious Performance." When Anita Kerr moved to California in 1965, actor-singer Jerry Reed’s wife, Prissy Hubbard, joined the group to sing lead. They changed their name to the "Nashville Sounds." In 1968 Jeneen Walker joined as lead singer and still sings with Louis today in his group known as "Sounds, Inc."

Louis lays claim to several thousands of sessions that have included many early sessions of Patsy Cline, all the hit records of Brenda Lee, Roy Orbison, Jim Reeves, Al Hirt, Floyd Cramer, several sessions with Burl Ives, Perry Como, Johnny Cash, several Elvis recordings—and hundreds others. Louis chuckles, "1957 was our biggest Christmas year." "We performed the original sessions of "Rockin Round the Christmas Tree" (Brenda Lee); "Jingle Bell Rock" (Bobby Helms); and "Holly Jolly Christmas" (Burl Ives)."

Michael Black is also currently performing in the tribute show here in Vegas filling in for Gordon Stoker, First Tenor, for the next two weeks. He was born and raised in Chicago where he played drums, sang and wrote songs in a pop band for twelve years. After relocating to Nashville 23 years ago, he worked at "The Sound Shop" recording studio for eight years as an engineer —but continued singing, writing, and producing. He left Sound Shop to start his own publishing company and put more time into his individual singing/writing career.

Michael has many credits under his belt as his vocals have appeared on the recordings of Michael Bolton, Vanessa Williams, Clint Black, Lorrie Morgan, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, John Michael Montgomery, and many others. The ultimate link for Michael’s perfect sub-placement as one of the Jordanaires in the Patsy Cline tribute show is he appeared in the movie ‘SWEET DREAMS’ about the life and career of Patsy Cline starring Jessica Lange as "Patsy." Michael portrayed a member in "Patsy’s " band.

Michael co-wrote and co-produced a couple of songs on Richard Elliott’s "Soul Embrace" CD. The songs, were "Never Gonna Break Your Heart" and "Lost in Minaute"; it went to #1 in Jazz Billboard Charts. Michael says, "I am excited to visit Las Vegas and work with The Jordanaires and Sharon Haynes in the Patsy Cline Tribute Show."

A few weeks ago, Michael recorded vocals in a Garth Brooks studio session in which Garth is recording under the name of ‘Chris Gaines’. "Chris Gaines" is Garth’s new alter ego—both in the recording industry and movie spectrums. Michael said, "we recorded the songs and tracks for a movie being filmed for the millennium release with Garth also playing in the movie role of ‘Chris’, a successful pop-recording artist."

Being the only female in this group of talented men, when I work with artists like the Jordanaires, Louis Nunley, and Michael Black, and I start to feel like my accomplishments are just a "drop in a bucket" in comparison.

The good Lord has blessed us all, and continues to do so by allowing us to share music we love in so many different ways! Talent runs deep with the Jordanaires and the show does go on nightly at the Gold Coast.IVLV


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