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Grand Ole Opry Legend

Jan Howard


Often referred to as one of the "Grand Ladies" of the Grand Ole Opry, Jan Howard is truly regarded as a legend in the country music industry. She is not only a talented recording artist and entertainer, but also a gifted songwriter and author. Thanks for visiting Jan's web site - and please check back frequently for changes and updates.

A Personal Message From Jan

May 2012

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,
Jan


July 2010

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.

Love,
Jan


December 2008

Dear Friends,

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 thankful.

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 of them.

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 and decorations.

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.

Jan


February 2008

Dear Friends,

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 happiness.

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. Thanks Vince.

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.

Love,
Jan


June 2007

Dear friends,

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 wonderful parents.

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 Meringue.

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.

Love, Jan


November 2006

Dear Friends,

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 going back.

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 time.

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’.

Jan


May 2006

Dear Friends,

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 this.

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 many blessings.

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 the beginning.

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 night!

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.

Jan


November 2005

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 anything else.

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 children’s lives.

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 message.

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!..

Love,

Jan


April 2005

Dear Friends,

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 move on.

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 Jan".

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,

Jan


Previous Messages From Jan

November 2004

Dear Friends,

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 goes.

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 again…."

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 invisible.

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, crooked road.

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 Years.

Jan


March 2004

Dear Friends,

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 we are.

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.

Jan


November 2003

Dear 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 toast…love it!

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 Ole Opry.

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 “thank you”.

God Bless you. And thank you for your love and support “Thru The Years”.

Very Sincerely,

Jan


August 2003

Dear Friends,

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 was perfect.

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. Smart girl.

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 Years.

Love,
Jan


 

May 2003

Dear Friends,

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” jokes.

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”.

Jan


February 2003

Dear 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, Norway.

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 music???

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 The Years.

Jan


December 2002

Dear Friends,

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 family.

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.

Love,

Jan


October 2002

Hi Everyone,

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…no in-between.

I mentioned 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 what…there's just a small portion left and I ate it all…no 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.

August 24th 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…ME! 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 about that!

Another great 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…it's FUN.

Well, I've 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.

Please take care…I love my friends. Till next time……

Jan


July 2002

Hi Everyone,

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 real fan.

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 you.

Sincerely,

Jan


April 2002

Hi Everyone,

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. Who knows…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…

Jan

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