All is Welk
After 32 years, "Lawrence Welk Show" star still has a song in her heart
Ralna English lived with her parents and her sister in Spur, Texas. Her grandmother lived in Haskell, two hours away. The family visited on Saturdays. And every Saturday night, at grandmother's request, the family found itself watching The Lawrence Welk Show.
making a living as a singer at age 13. If her grandmother was
going to see her perform, she quickly realized, she would have
to find a way to get onto The Lawrence Welk Show.
By her early 20s, English was performing at The Horn in Santa Monica, Calif. with regulars like Jim Nabors and Steve Martin. She started asking around about Lawrence Welk. Someone had a connection. She managed to get an audition. It went reasonably well.
When Lawrence Welk invited English to sing on his show in 1969, she didn't know she would become a regular. She certainly didn't know she'd have the same job 32 years later.
"I never in a million years would have thought that I would still be doing this," English says now. "Nobody thought we'd be on television this long."
The Lawrence Welk Show is now in its 50th season. It airs weekly on 275 public television stations across the nation. The touring version playing the Paramount Arts Center on Tuesday features English, Mary Lou Metzger, Jack Imel, Henry Cuesta and Ava Barber, all from the show's original cast, in addition to the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, accordionist Tim Padilla and Russian dancers Pasha and Aliona. Its intent is to recreate the spirit of the television show in a "live" format.
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