- "Easy Listening Sound
Still Captivates Young, Old"
- by Jeff Korbelik, Staff Writer
- Lincoln Journal Star, Sunday,
Feburary 24, 2002
- Like many in the music industry, Ralna
English was saddened by the news of Waylon Jennings' death less
than two weeks ago.
- Jennings died Feb. 13 from complications
related to diabetes. He was 64.
- Fans of English, the sweet singing diva
from television's "The Lawrence Welk Show," may be
surprised she knew Jennings, the country music star who was just
as famous for his hard living as he was for his chart-topping
- Both Jennings and English were Texas born-and-bred,
and when Jennings recorded his first record, English was there
to sing backup.
- "I had never seen anybody so scared,"
she said of Jennings' appearance at the studio. "It was
amazing. He was such a shy guy."
- Over the years, their paths would cross
from time to time, including one occasion when she caught up
with him at a Los Angeles country nightclub.
- "I went up and said 'hi' to him and
told him I appreciated having him in my life," she said
in a phone interview from her Scottsdale, Ariz., home. "He
was always so sweet. He made me appreciate country music. He
taught me the art of it."
- English has made an art of her genre -
the easy listening sound that still captivates young and old
- She will be in Lincoln Wednesday to sing
with The "Live" Lawrence Welk Show tour. Other featured
performers include longtime cast members Mary Lou Metzger, Jack
Imel, Henry Cuesta and Ava Barber.
- Lawrence Welk, who coined such phrases
as "wunnerful, wunnerful" and "ah-one, ana-two,
ana-three..." died in 1992, but his legacy continues on
his nationally syndicated television show.
- "The Lawrence Welk Show" airs
each week on 276 public stations, including 6 p.m. Saturday on
Nebraska ETV (Time Warner channel 12). The variety show debuted
in Los Angeles in 1950 and went national in 1955.
- English, who joined the show in 1969,
said the program has endured because it's family oriented.
- "I worry about what's on TV these
days," English said. "I'm not a prude by any means,
but it's difficult for me to watch sometimes."
- Another reason the show continues to persevere
is its cast. They are like a family themselves, watching over
and taking care of each other. They were there for English, when
she suffered a breakdown in 1980 and again in 1984 when she divorced
her longtime singing partner, Guy Hovis.
- On Tuesday, they gathered again for support
and to pay tribute to Welk's widow, Fern, who had just passed
away. English sang four works at Fern's funeral, including her
famous rendition of "How Great Thou Art."
- "Fern was a wonderful lady,"
English said. "She was the backbone for Lawrence. She kept
him stabilized in show business all his life."
- She then recalled Lawrence's emotional
service nearly 20 years ago.
- "He would have been happy,"
she said. "We were all in one place celebrating our love
for our Lord. It just brought tears to my eyes. It was a joyful
experience, and one I'll never forget."
- If you go...
- What: The "Live Lawrence
- Where: Lied Center for the
Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th St.
- When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
- Tickets: $39.50 and $35.00