PBS 'pledge event' fundraising segments for
"Ralna English: From My Heart."
Interviewer is Michael Dixon, a well-known public television on-air fundraiser.
(Tune in to your local PBS station in March to see the interview below during
"Ralna English: From My Heart.")
RALNA: That's right. That's what she said. And you know, my first public appearance was when I was 7 on the stage of Spur, Texas High School and my knees were knocking together so hard that I couldn't concentrate on the song I was singing "Daddy's Little Girl." But I had a short skirt on and I just knew everybody was looking at my knees.
MICHAEL: That's funny. You know, I understand you went from there to Lubbock, Texas and, and Rock & Roll? How did that happen?
RALNA: Yes, when I was 13, I was part of
a band called, 'Ralna English and The Ad Libs' and really you
know Michael, my claim to fame, is that my band and I beat Buddy
Holly and the Crickets one Saturday night at a local theatre
in Battle of the Bands. And I still have the trophy to prove
RALNA: But you know, we had no idea at the time what an icon Buddy would become and the influence he would have on music history.
MICHAEL: Well, you made a real leap then going from Rock and Roll to singing songs we're listening to tonight from the Great American Songbook?
RALNA: Well, you know actually back in West Texas there was a lot of different kinds of music happening. And when I was 15, Waylon Jennings and I had the same manager, and we would travel all over Texas promoting our records. In fact, I sang on one of Waylon's very first recordings he was so shy back then we would go and set up on the back of a flat bed truck in the middle of small towns in Texas and sing our little hearts out.
MICHAEL: What a great life you're living!
MICHAEL: Well, listen, we are really pleased with all this. Thank you very much for taking the time to be with us
RALNA: Thank you Michael.
MICHAEL: And let's us return to the program.
RALNA: Thank you Michael.
MICHAEL: I wanted to ask you about the early days in the business because I understand that Six Flags played a major role in your career.
RALNA: Oh, 4 shows a day, 7 days a week, for 3 months. And when that summer was over, I was hired by a "jingle company" in Dallas to sing jingles 4 hours a day and then I sang with a jazz trio 4 hours every night. I loved my experience in Dallas, but I knew that wasn't what I was supposed to do, so I packed up my little Volkswagen and off I went to LA.
MICHAEL: Well, was it your idea to get into television at that time?
RALNA: Well, actually I got a job singing in Las Vegas at Caesar's Palace and in between I did a USO Tour throughout the Far East. And when I would come back to LA, I was lucky enough to work at a place called The Horn. There were 11 performers there every night. Steve Martin was there when I was there Jim Nabors was discovered as "Gomer Pyle" there. And big name performers would come in and watch us it was very exciting Judy Garland, and Carol Burnett, and Liberace.
MICHAEL: Goodness sakes that's quite a list of performers. Is Is that where you were discovered. I mean, is that when it happened for you?
RALNA: Well, you know, my Grandmother LOVED
"The Lawrence Welk Show" and if you were at my grandmother's
house on a Saturday night, you HAD to watch The Lawrence Welk
RALNA: So, I really wanted to do one show, just for my, Grandmother Nanie. One of the performers at The Horn knew somebody from The Lawrence Welk Show, and got him to come down and hear me sing. He said, well now if you come into the office, which was right down the street actually,,, if you come down to the office tomorrow, Lawrence will be coming in from a golf game around noon and he might listen to you sing and, of course, the rest is history I've been coming into people's homes every Saturday night since 1969.
MICHAEL: And we've loved it every time we've seen you thank you so much for this. And we still have time for you to get to the phone and call the number at the bottom of your screen. Meanwhile, let's get back to the show!
Act 3 Break Interview...
RALNA: Thank you Michael it's been a joy for me, truly a joy.
MICHAEL: A joy for all of us as well. Let's reminisce for a moment you know I was just thinking, you went from a flat bed truck in Lubbock, Texas to performing in front of a huge Philharmonic Orchestra what a thrill that must have been.
RALNA: Oh, it's been a great experience for me Michael. And I am so blessed to have the career that I've had and I am so grateful to all my loyal fans who have stood by me all these years. Thank you so much.
MICHAEL: Well, when you think about the career, everything from rock & roll, to gospel music, to The Lawrence Welk Show where we've watched you forever. You must have some favorite music among all of that what is that?
RALNA: You know, after all these years Michael, I have to say that Gospel has to be my favorite. I love all kinds of music, but it truly comes from my heart. And singing in this special with this wonderful gospel choir was one of the highlights of my career.
MICHAEL: Well, it was wonderful and we all enjoyed it you must enjoy it standing in front of that huge orchestra and that hall full of people, at this stage in your life, that must be just wonderful you must really enjoy it.
RALNA: Well, I was really having fun and you know the songs that I chose for this special were truly songs from my heart. I could probably tell a story about each and every one of them they had special meaning to me. And, it was a real thrill for me and I truly hope everyone watching felt the joy that has come straight "from my heart" in performing in this show. Only public television would air a show like this I'm so grateful to everyone watching on this public television station. I hope you'll call the number on the screen right now and make a pledge of support. Thank you.
MICHAEL: And thank you Ralna English.
RALNA: Thank you, Michael.