October 2, 2016
Another summer has come and gone and another birthday just flew by. I have reached the three quarter century mark and I am grateful for my good health and for every morning that I wake up. The birthday celebration went on for two weeks, starting with the Welknotes group in Van Wert, Ohio on the Saturday night before the Guy & Ralna concert at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center on September 18th. We had a really good time in Van Wert visiting with a lot of friends and fans that we have gotten to know over the past forty-six years.
September is a big birthday month in our family with more than a dozen celebrating their day. Sis’ Dad had his 90th this year and we had a big party with more than 100 friends and family gathering to celebrate. Sis and her sister-in-law worked for weeks planning and preparing and it was a total success. Her dad, who is in good health and still driving, loved every minute of it.
Except for a couple of concerts in local retirement homes in August and September, I have not been singing much. We have spent some time in Louisiana helping some of Sis’ family who were affected by the devastating flood in mid-August. One of her aunts lost everything including her car. Driving through the worst hit areas brought back the bad memories of Hurricane Katrina that wiped out the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Piles of furniture, appliances and debris stacked up along the roadsides waiting to be cleared. We are eleven years from Katrina and are still not fully recovered, so these people have a long road ahead. Prayers and charity are much needed.
Sis and I attended Pete Fountain’s funeral in New Orleans on August 17th. Pete was “Mr. New Orleans”. The love the people had for him was shown in the massive turnout for his funeral mass at St. Louis Cathedral and the second-line parade through the French Quarter. Lawrence Welk’s son, Larry spoke at the funeral and told some of the funny stories of Pete’s days with the Welk Orchestra. Pete was a bit of a cut-up and kept those around him in the orchestra laughing. The tone he got out of his clarinet, was something very special, and acknowledged by musicians all over the world. It was a hot, sultry day in New Orleans and we were all soaking when we got back to the hotel after walking in the parade. That night there was a fabulous jam session at the Bombay Club and some of New Orleans’ best musicians came by and sat in. We are so happy we were there.
College football season is in full swing and we have been to a couple of Ole Miss games. My team had a challenging schedule for the first month of this season, having to play three nationally ranked teams in four weeks. We only won one of them, but the team played well and I’m confident we will get to a good bowl game. There is just nothing like tailgating at “The Grove” on the Ole Miss campus. It is ranked #1 in the nation by many groups who rank that sort of thing.
It’s October and that is State Fair time in Jackson, Mississippi. I’ll be doing my 28th or 29th year (we aren’t sure) in a row at Senior America Day on October 12. It is such a fun day for everyone. You can get your flu shot, your eyes and blood pressure checked, and hear some big band music. How can you beat that?! October also means that cooler weather should be on the way and we are so ready for it!
I hope you all will give a lot of thought and prayer to our upcoming presidential election. I have heard too many people say they are not going to vote because they don’t like the choices. Whether we like it or not, it is our privilege and civic responsibility to participate in our democratic process. Remember there is a lot more on the ballot than a vote for president. Take care of yourselves.
GOD BLESS AMERICA!
July 10, 2016
I hope you all had a fun and safe 4 th of July weekend and that you said prayers of thanksgiving
for those whose blood, sweat and tears enabled us to live in freedom in the greatest country on
earth. I also hope that you will pray daily for wisdom and guidance as we address some of our
most critical problems that are causing turmoil in our land.
Sis and I had a fabulous time on our trip to England, Scotland, and Ireland. We did take a day
trip from London to Paris on the Eurostar train which really was a “trip”. The train goes under
the English Channel and rolls along at 175 miles per hour so it is just over two hours from station
to station. I f we had been a week or so later, the trip would have been cancelled because the
rains in Europe had the river Seine so high that they closed the river and the Lovre. We were
blessed with wonderful weather the entire trip. Preparing for cold and wet weather, we packed a
lot of clothes that we never needed as the temperatures were mild and we rarely used our
umbrellas. It was really an interesting time to be in London while all the festivities were going
on for the Queen’s 90 th birthday and during the final couple of weeks before the Brexit vote. If
you are not familiar with Brexit, you can find all you want to know on the internet. Basically the
United Kingdom(England, Scotland, and the Republic of Ireland) were voting on whether or not
to stay in the EU (European Union). They voted to leave. Scotland and Ireland are so beautiful
that the thousand of pictures and videos we took could not begin to capture it. We were doing a
highlight tour, so we have to go back to spend more time in the places we loved the most.
It is summer in the South and, if you want to work in your yard or garden, you need to be out
there at dawn and finish by nine or ten. Our garden has had a hard time with too much rain the
first month and heat and drought the next. It has survived and we are now getting some fresh
vegetables that we love so much. Melons will be coming in the next few weeks and we have a
bumper crop that our neighbors will enjoy. The electric fence has been on the blink, so the deer
have enjoyed some of the fruits of our labor.
We enjoyed a nice visit from my daughter, Julie who is finally taking a few weeks off from
school. She has taught summer school just about every year since she became teacher and we
are thrilled that she took a few weeks off. The rest of our summer will be spent visiting family
and grandchildren. We are especially excited to get to spend some time with our 1-year- old and
almost 3-year- old grandsons, who we haven’t seen since January. The youngest won’t even
remember who we are, so we will have to get reacquainted with him. We will see them a lot
over the next few months and I am already getting excited about this Christmas.
I have not been singing as much as I’d like over the past couple of months, but that will change
soon. I have a couple of concerts later this month and my church is keeping me busy singing
every week through July while our choir is taking a summer break. It has really been fun for me
to sing in a quartet at our church. I was raised on gospel quartet music and have sung in a quartet
most of my life. I have found that my old voice is challenged to sing first tenor with this group,
but I welcome the challenge. Next week we are doing the Gaither version of “Sinner Saved By
Grace” and, if you listen to this arrangement on You Tube, you will see what I mean by
challenging for the high tenor.
Sis and I are really looking forward to seeing many of you in Van Wert, Ohio in September. It
will be our first time at this venue and we have heard nothing but raves about it. We are really
excited about getting together on Saturday night before the concert on Sunday with a large
number of Welk Noters who are coming in for the show. These devoted fans of the Welk Show
are a large part of the reason the show continues to be on public television and we are so
appreciative of their support over all this years. That thanks and appreciation goes to all of you
who support the Welk Show to this day.
I know I am wearing out this scripture lately, but it haunts me so that I think about every day.
II Chronicles 7:14 -- “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray
and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will
forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
God Bless America!
April 15, 2016
It is that time of the year in Mississippi when we have experienced the splendor of blooming
azaleas, dogwoods, redbuds and many other beautiful blooming plants and trees. Even though
the height of the bloom only lasts for two or three weeks, we cherish it and look forward to it
every year. I think I appreciate it more now that I am down to the short rows of life and might
not see a lot more springtime blooms.
As I write this, Easter has come and gone and April is really being its rainy self here in
Mississippi. Once again, like last year, my brother-in-law and I are waiting for the ground to dry
enough for us to be able to plant our garden. Last year we waited until the middle of May and
finally decided to give the soil in the garden a year’s rest. We really missed not having the fresh
vegetables, so we will do whatever we have to this year to get it planted. It really gets us in
touch with what our farmers have to deal with every year. You can irrigate, but you can’t stop
Today is one of those days that are dreaded by many as it is the day we our federal tax returns
are due. Not only are the returns due, but the taxes you owe and the first estimate for the next
year must be paid. Congratulations if you are among those who get a refund. Before I spent a
few years working in the federal government, I was happier to pay my taxes. Seeing firsthand
how our government spends a lot of our tax dollars is more than a little disheartening. The
complexity of our tax code is also frustrating and should be changed. I am a big supporter of a
flat tax, even though it would hurt business for a lot of accountants.
I have been singing quite a bit over the past couple of months and I am grateful for these gigs
which help me keep my voice in shape. It has also been a real pleasure to, once again, be part of
a church choir. The music the choir and orchestra did for Palm Sunday and Easter was totally
awesome. Our minister of music has put together a 200 voice choir from a lot of our local
churches and, along with a full orchestra; we are doing a community concert on the afternoon of
April 30th. If you are in or near the Jackson, Mississippi area on that date, I can assure you that
the music will thrill and bless your soul.
We attended the confirmation of our youngest granddaughter this month. How could twelve
years go by this fast? In the blink of an eye our 2 ½- year-old and 9-month-old will be at that
age. I just hope I am still around to see theirs.
Sis and I are about to embark on a trip we have put off for three or four years because of health
issues in our family. We are going to England, Scotland and Ireland plus a side trip to Paris from
London. We have friends who live just outside of London and we will stay with them for a few
days and then explore Scotland and Ireland for a couple of weeks.
I am looking forward to a slow, relaxing summer to work in the garden, fish and play some golf.
I will continue to do a few appearances at local retirement homes and music festivals, but we will
mainly be spending time with grandkids and family.
God Bless America!
February 10, 2016
Happy New Year, MLK Day, Groundhog Day, and Presidents Day to you all! I hope that covered all the holidays since Christmas. I have to mention that I left out my Christmas greeting when I sent in my last newsletter. It was a paragraph on another page that just did not get sent. I do hope that you all had a good Christmas season and that 2016 is good to you. We had a wonderful Christmas season, the highlight being that our two youngest grandchildren (2 yr-old and 6-month-old) spent a couple of weeks at our house. So everyone who wanted to see them had to come to our house. Needless to say there was never a dull moment in the Hovis house for two weeks.
I started the year off by singing at Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant’s Inauguration. Governor Bryant is a long-time friend of mine and he was re-elected to a second term last November. I sang at his first inauguration and was honored that he asked me back for this one.
A couple of days after the Inauguration we went to southern California where we visited some dear friends and where I was working a little. I really enjoyed the two concerts Ralna and I did with old friends from the Welk Show. Bobby & Elaine, Mary Lou Metzger, Arthur Duncan, Gail Farrell and Guy & Ralna did shows in the Cerritos Performing Arts Center in Cerritos and in the McCallum Theater in Palm Desert. The shows were well attended and the theaters were the kind of venues that you dream of as an entertainer. Thanks to those of you who made the trip to see us and we enjoyed seeing a lot of long-time fans in each place. The weather was so wonderful and we had such a great time in Palm Desert, that Sis and I decided that we need to spend more time there.
When we got home from our California trip, we really kicked back and did little of nothing for a week or so. Then it was time for all my doctor visits that I put off in December. I had my annual physical, eye exam, and endoscopy and I am happy to say that I passed all with flying colors. With a lot of my friends not being in such good health, I am grateful that I have been blessed with good health for most of my life.
This month I will travel to Arizona to visit my daughter, Julie, who I have not seen for a while. We were not able to get together during Christmas and I am really excited to get to visit with her, her hubby and the animals. Presently they have two cats, a Chihuahua, and two bearded-dragon lizards. It takes about a full day for them all to get reacquainted with me enough to relax.
I have three concerts scheduled in March in various places around Mississippi. I am grateful that people still call and ask me to come sing for them. As long as this old voice holds out I will take every opportunity to sing and I thank God every day that I can still use the talent I was given.
I would like to pass along something that our church is doing for the Lenten Season. Instead of just giving up something personally, we are encouraging everyone to engage in an outpouring of generosity. The main objective is to commit to a heart of generosity for 40 days. Small acts of generosity can make big impacts to change our lives, our families, and our community. We have a calendar what suggests something to do on each of the 40 days. (i.e. “visit a friend in need”; “tell someone you love them”; “give away something”) I think this is a really good idea and one that I wish could spread –and not just for Lent.
Take care of yourselves, and please pray for our country! II Chronicles 7:14
December 8, 2015
I am writing this just after Thanksgiving and I hope you all had a good one. I certainly have not intended to be so long in updating this news page, but it has been a rather complicated year for us and I have not kept up with a lot of things, including this website. Nevertheless, let me see if I can briefly update the last few months. In early October we traveled to Phoenix to visit my daughter, Julie and her husband, Carlos. We always cherish getting to spend some time with them as we only get to see them a couple of times a year. Julie is enjoying her new job which is teaching reading to 7th and 8th grade students. Carlos works in a field of high technology that I cannot begin to understand, but he does, and is very good at it.
For the 27th year I hosted Senior American Day at the Mississippi State Fair on October 14th and we had another wonderful turnout. A crowd of about five thousand attended and enjoyed the day which included getting blood pressure checks, eye exams, flu shots, and big band music. I am so blessed that these people still come out to hear me sing the same old songs year after year. However, I will always remember Lawrence Welk telling me that people want to hear songs that they know and if you perform them well, they will never grow old.
On the 22nd I did my annual concert at Magnolia Gardens in Greenville, Mississippi. I love the people at this retirement facility and I have been doing at least one performance a year there since Sis’ grandmother moved there about 15 years ago. Her Dad is now a resident, or, should I say, the Mayor of Magnolia Gardens. I will be happy to be singing there as long as we both are alive.
In November, Sis and I met a couple of our dear friends in Branson, Missouri. They had not seen the Christmas lights in Branson which go up the first of November. Coincidentally, while were there, the Lennon Sisters and were celebrating 60 years in show business. Their fan club had organized a celebration that including a luncheon and a special show by the fabulous trio of Gail & Bill Lennon and Mike Cathcart. Bill Lennon asked me to sing a song at the end of the show and I did Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young”, which seemed very appropriate for these lovely ladies whose looks and sound defy age. We then saw the fabulous production of “The Million Dollar Quartet” at the Welk Music Theater. If you are in Branson, you don’t want to miss this show. We also went to see the Lennon Sisters and Osmond Brothers’ Christmas Show. Spectacular!!! Wonderful music, fabulous production and great tribute to the man who was influential in their careers-- Andy Williams.
We returned from Branson to prepare for the multitude that comes to our house for Thanksgiving. As I have reported before, since Sis’ mother died, our house has become to gathering place for all her family during the holidays. Sis’ brother and his wife hosted the Thanksgiving meal, which gave Sis a little relief during the week. We have so much to be thankful for that I treat every day like Thanksgiving—minus all the overeating! Deer season also opened this week, as it does every year at this time, and we got some venison to cook for Christmas.
We are sitting on anxious excitement to see our two youngest grandchildren this Christmas. They do not come for Thanksgiving as Sis’ son and his wife host some of their friends in the DC area. Of course, we are thrilled to see all the family this time of year, but when you have a two-year-old and a six-month-old, it really it puts everything into a different perspective. As you well know, decorating the house when you have a two-year-old in is a challenge. We gratefully accept the challenge!
I start Christmas concerts December 1 and by the 10th I will be all done. It’s so odd to me that everyone wants to get their Christmas parties and churches get their Christmas music done by the middle of December. I do understand the reasoning behind it, but I think the music would be more meaningful closer to Christmas. I will sing in a couple of church services later on toward Christmas, but my full-blown concerts will be done by the 10th.
I am excited to be working with some of my old friends from the Welk Show in January 2016. Bobby and Elaine, Arthur Duncan, Mary Lou Metzger, Gail Farrell, Ralna and I will be performing in Cerritos and in Palm Desert, California on January 17th and 19th. Please look on my calendar page for the details for each show. We haven’t worked in Southern California in a while and we hope all our fans in that area will come see us.
August 21, 2015
I will begin this newsletter by apologizing for not having written in such a long time. Although we have had a lot going on in our lives and have been away from home a good bit, I really should have made time to write something. I appreciate those of you who have emailed me and asked for an update.
Soon after my last entry, Ralna & I performed at the Reagle Theater in Waltham, Massachusetts, and we had a great time performing together for the first time in a long while. We had a good crowd at the show and we saw a lot of long-time fans, some who traveled a great distance to get to the show. We always enjoy getting back to this part of the country that is dear to our hearts as we have worked here so often over the years. We also love getting to chow down on some of that scrumptious lobster.
When we returned from Waltham, I attended a reunion for all the staff members who worked for Trent Lott during his years in congress. We had a great turnout and I really enjoyed seeing a lot of people I had not seen for years. The event also served as a fund raiser for the Tricia Lott Scholarship at Ole Miss. Sis was not able to go with me to the reunion as our son-in-law was in the hospital in New Orleans recovering from a heart transplant. He had severe complications after the transplant and did not survive. I went directly from the Lott reunion to his funeral in Louisiana.
We went to Tupelo for Mother’s Day knowing it was probably the last Mother’s Day I would spend with my Mom. Her dementia had gotten progressively worse and she had been put on hospice. Nevertheless the family gathered and we celebrated the life of the woman who had given us so much during her 95 years.
Our niece, Eliza, who is like a grandchild to us, graduated from high school the next week and we sat there wondering where these past eighteen years had gone. We are so proud of the young lady Eliza has become and we will miss her so much when she heads off to college this fall. Yes, she is going to Ole Miss! -- Much to the chagrin of my Mississippi State Bulldog brother-in-law.
Our fifth grandchild was born on June 13th and Sis went to help with the baby and the 20-month-old. With this one being a boy, we now have a male majority among the grandchildren. It is going to be fun watching these kids grow up, but it shocked me when I realized I will have to live to be 92 to see them both graduate from high school !
God finally took my Mother out of her earthly body and into her heavenly home on June 25th. Julie came from Arizona for Gramma’s funeral service and stayed with us for a week afterwards. She got to visit with friends she made here in Mississippi when she used to come stay with me during the summer, and we made sure she got some of those fried dill pickles that she loves so much.
The first week in August we went to the beach with Sis’ son, his wife, and the grandsons. It was nice to escape the intense heat we have had in Mississippi for the past month and wonderful to get to spend some time with the new baby and to try to keep up with the 2-year-old.
Sis’ son, Hunter, and I went to the PGA golf tournament in Kohler, Wisconsin—about an hour north of Milwaukee. The tournament was played on the Whistling Straits golf course and it was the third time the PGA tournament had been held at this course. The course was designed by Pete and Alice Dye on a piece of property owned by Kohler Company. The course is right on Lake Michigan and it is one of the most extraordinarily scenic courses ever built. It was the most exciting experience I have ever had at a golf event and a memory I will cherish forever.
I have been singing some, but not enough to really keep my voice in shape. I had only one concert in May and June and nothing in July. I have some concerts coming up in the fall and I am looking forward to getting back to singing on a regular basis. The only public event I have in the near future is Senior American Day at the Mississippi State Fair on October 14th. If you are in the area, come enjoy a fun day with us. The event is in the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson and the music starts at 10:00 a.m. I will take the stage at 11:00.
We are thrilled that many PBS stations across the country have renewed the Lawrence Welk Show for two more years. Unfortunately, Mississippi Public Broadcasting has not renewed and I am presently working on that. I am in awe of the continuous fan support the Welk show has received from fans for all these years. I am also proud and grateful that I was lucky enough to be a part of the Welk Musical Family.
GOD BLESS AMERICA!
April 14, 2015
Spring in the Southeastern part of our country can be breathtakingingly beautiful. I know that
“breathtakingingly” is not a word, but it sounds good, doesn’t it? When the dogwood trees and
azaleas are in bloom along with the pear trees, redbud trees and the wisteria, it is truly some of
God’s best work. We are still completely saturated from all the rain and wish so much that we
could send some of this to California. Our friends in southern California are really suffering
from lack of water and some have taken out their lawns and replaced with rock and cactus plants.
It is not going to get much better soon according to the national meteorologists.
It has been so long since I have written in this news page that I don’t know where to start with an
update, but here goes. In February Sis and I made our annual trip to the west coast to visit old
friends and we stopped in Phoenix to spend some time with daughter, Julie and her husband,
Carlos. We had a great time in LA and the weather was perfect. I will have to say that I am
happy that we do not live in LA as the traffic has just gotten horrific 24-7. I could only live there
if I could be on the beach somewhere and only travel into town when I wanted to. We really did
enjoy seeing some old friends and went to church one Sunday at my old church, First Christian
in North Hollywood. Some of my closest friendships were made at this church and we have
remained in close contact until this day. Julie grew up in this church and when she and Carlos
got married, her primary request was that the pastor, Bob Bock, would marry them. He
graciously accepted the call and came to Phoenix for the wedding. It made Julie’s wedding day.
We stopped in Phoenix for a few days on the way home from LA and caught a good weekend
because Julie was out of school on Monday. We are so happy for Julie as she has really enjoyed
teaching 6th grade this year. Next year she is moving up to middle school to teach reading, which
is her forte, and she is thrilled to finally get the job she has wanted for a long time. She is
excited to work with these teenagers and get them prepared to enter high school. Julie is one of
those teachers that parents crave for their children. I could go on and on about the time and
money Julie spends on her students because the state and school district provide very little
resources for the classroom. The lack of adequate funding for public school classrooms and
teachers is really deplorable.
The week we returned home from our trip we attended the annual Cancer League Gala which is
the big fund raiser for the American Cancer Society in Mississippi. My wife, Sis, has been
heavily involved in the Cancer League for many years. Founded in 1980 the organization has
raised more than $25,000,000 to help find a cure. I also had a couple of concerts in late
February. One was in Monticello, Mississippi for the Lawrence County Civic Center and
Museum and the other for a retirement home in Raymond, MS. On March 11th I participated in
a ceremony at our state capitol for the establishment of Mississippi Musicians Day in the state. I
was introduced by the Governor and I sang Jim Weatherly’s “Mississippi, This Is Your Song” at
the ceremony. This song should be our state song and a group of us are actively working on
making that happen.
It has rained so much here in the past month that a guy down the street is building an ark. We
are going to visit our 20-month-old grandson next week and will be glad to go somewhere that,
hopefully, it is not raining. There is another grandson on the way in a couple of months, so we
will be making another trip there very soon. This trip we will get to see the cherry blossoms in
Washington as they should be about to peak when we are there. We also plan to go to a
Washington Nationals baseball game in their new park. Sis and I are both big baseball fans.
Ralna and I are excited to be performing at the Reagle Theatre in Waltham, Massachusetts on
April 26th. We have not worked together in a while and we are really looking forward to it. We
are looking forward to seeing a lot of old friends as we have not worked in the Boston area for
some time. Y’all come—we will be looking for you!
GOD BLESS AMERICA
January 22, 2015
Let me start this newsletter by wishing you all a belated happy and healthy New Year. Although we are three weeks into the 2015, we have just finished putting up all our Christmas decorations. My dear wife, who loves Christmas as much as anyone I have ever known, has some sort of decoration in every nook and cranny of the house. My job is mainly confined to outside lights and putting the angel on top of the tree. However, I do have to haul all this stuff up and down stairs to the attic where it resides until the next December. I felt better about being so late getting Christmas put up when I visited my neighbor yesterday who wanted me to look at the guitar he had gotten his daughter. The tree is still up in their living room!
Like so many others, Sis and I are working on trying to shed a few of the pounds we picked up during the holiday season. The older I get, it seems easier to put weight on and harder to get it off. A big reason for eating enough to gain a lot of weight is being blessed with a family of wonderful cooks who cook scrumptious feasts during the holidays. Of course, we have every dessert that has been a favorite for generations!
Our part of the country has had our typical weather for December and January-- freezing cold for a few days and then temps in the 70’s. It confuses everything from plants and animals to us humans. We believe that it causes illnesses, and we always have a lot of sick people this time of year. As in most areas of the country, we have been hit with the flu bug. Fortunately, Sis and I have escaped it so far, but our 16-month-old grandson and his parents have all had it. Speaking of the grandson, he was at our house for two weeks around Christmas and we enjoyed him so much. He is almost talking now and beginning to test the limits of what “no” means. It was just a blessing to get to spend that much time with him as they grow and change so much at his age. We are just thrilled that he is going to have a baby brother in a few months. He may not be so thrilled with the new arrival, but, as they grow older, I bet he is going to be a great big brother.
I have not been singing much since the week before Christmas and I don’t have anything scheduled until the latter part of February, so I have to be diligent about vocalizing enough to keep my voice in top shape. It can deteriorate so fast at my age and, as I am prone to mention, it takes a lot of work to get it back.
I am very excited that Guy & Ralna will be working again soon. April 26th will find us at the Reagle Theater in Waltham, Massachusetts. We are thrilled to be going to the Boston area where we have not been in a long time. We have a great affinity for the New England area where we did our first public concert after I joined to Welk musical family, and where we have worked so much over the years.
Sis and I will make a trip out west next month to visit daughter, Julie, and husband, Carlos. We will also spend a few days in southern California visiting friends and catching up on what’s going on in their lives. As old friends do that don’t get to see each other very often, we will do a lot of reminiscing. We love and cherish new friendships we make, but you can’t make old friends. I love the song Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton recorded a couple of years ago and some of the lyrics are:
"You Can't Make Old Friends"
(written by Ryan H. King, Caitlyn Smith and Don Schlitz)
What will I do when you are gone? Who's gonna tell me the truth?
Who's gonna finish the stories I start, the way you always do?
When somebody knocks at the door, Someone new walks in.
I will smile and shake their hands, but you can't make old friends.
You can't make old friends
It was you and me, since way back when.
You can't make old friends.
Be good to yourselves and each other and I pray that you have a blessed 2015.
November 25, 2014
As I write this Thanksgiving is upon us and I smell, coming from our kitchen, those
wonderful, familiar aromas of pumpkin bread, trash and other things that Sis can prepare before
all the family gets here. Trash is the only name I have ever known for the mixture of nuts,
pretzels, corn, rice and wheat chex that is spiced with Worcestershire sauce and other things
unknown to me. It is cooked in the oven for a while and then spread out on paper to dry. All I
know is I can tell what’s cooking when I smell it.
Since Sis’ mother died, our house has become the gathering place for all her family
during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Having come from a relatively small family, it has been a
new experience to have a house full of people throughout the holiday season. They love to get in
the kitchen and talk and laugh and cook some fabulous food. We will eat way too much and then
have about three weeks to recover before it starts all over again for Christmas.
Senior American Day at the Mississippi State Fair was a big success again this year. This
was the 26th year I have done this event and this year’s show was one of the best. The crowd was
around 5,000 and they were dancing in the aisles and on the stage with Mary Wilson of the
original Supremes. Mary is the consummate entertainer and still singing so well. Rafael
Semmes and his orchestra were fabulous and our beautiful and talented Miss Mississippi,
Jasmine Murray, was there signing autographs, taking pictures and visiting with everyone.
The day after the State Fair, I went to Phoenix to visit my daughter, Julie and her
husband, Carlos. Sis went another direction to visit an old friend who is very sick. I had a
wonderful visit with my kids and Sis was a godsend to the family who badly needed help caring
for the one who was ill. Sis not only knows how to handle healthcare situations, but she
brightens up the room when she walks in. Yes, I married an angel.
As soon as we got home, we went to an Ole Miss football game in Oxford and visited
with a lot of old friends that we love. Our football team is not doing so well as of late and we
lost one of our best players for the year in the Auburn game. It has been downhill since then, so
we may have to pull for our arch rival, Mississippi State, the rest of the year as they have a shot
at the national title. I finished up October with a couple of local concerts and buried another old
friend. This old friend was my mentor when I got into the political world. He was a great
American, who came from nothing and worked for 5 governors and a U. S. Senator. He was 98!
This month I have done a couple of concerts and attended a reunion of the Singing
Senators, a quartet that I worked with during the years I worked for my friend, Trent Lott in the
United States Senate. Trent’s original idea for this quartet was to have members of both parties
in the group to establish better rapport between rival factions of congress. As it worked out all
the members were Republicans. The tenor in the group, Jim Jeffords, died this year and I took
over the tenor role at the reunion. It was really good to get to visit with John Ashcroft, who
wrote “Let the Eagle Soar”, that I sang at the 2005 Presidential Inauguration.
The first two weeks of December I am doing a few Christmas concerts and the entire
month we will be involved with charities that help those in need. Our Sunday school class is
already collecting warm clothing and we are also looking through our closets to see things that
we do not need that someone else would love to have. We have also taken a pledge to give up
something we might want to buy that we don’t really need and give that monetary value to
charity groups like Salvation Army. We do our best to try and keep this spirit of giving alive
throughout the year, but we do best this time of year.
Knowing how busy we will be over the next month; I suspect this is the last time I will
write anything for this page until the New Year. I wish you all a blessed holiday season. I hope
that you will be with those you love and I pray that the peace and love of the Christmas season
finds its way into your heart. Merry Christmas and Happy 2015 !
God Bless America!
2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and
pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I
will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
September 29, 2014
Every year, when my birthday comes around, I do some reflecting and, at my age, the reflecting time goes on for days. I want to say thanks to all of you who have taken the time to wish me a happy birthday. At the age of 73, I am so grateful for each day. I have had so many blessings in this life and I thank God every day for the amazing grace that has granted me such a wonderful life on this earth. I have lost some close friends over the past few years and I am beginning to relate to what my 95-year-old Mother told me a couple of years ago. Having outlived all her close friends, she said that she was lonesome. I personally contemplated this scenario a few years ago, and decided that I needed to cultivate some younger friends and get some younger doctors who would not die or retire while I was still alive. I must report that has not worked out so well. I have outlived some of my younger friends and my young doctors are retiring early!! These days I really rest on scriptures like Matthew 6:34 (NIV—“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”)
Fall is in the air in Mississippi and I love it. This season has always been my favorite time of the year and when cooler weather arrives it brings out so many wonderful memories—hay rides, high school football games, the Mississippi/Alabama Fair in my hometown, and realizing that Christmas was not far away! You might ask me why I like fall when the leaves are falling and everything looks dead and gray rather than spring when things are coming to life. I don’t know other than to say that when the leaves are off the trees, you can see a lot that you cannot see when they are there. I may be getting too deep in the woods here, so I’ll move on.
I am excited about a lot of things this fall. My Ole Miss football team is nationally ranked in the top 20 and we hear that ESPN Game Day is finally coming to the campus for the very first time on October 4th. I could go on for a while about why they have not come to Oxford and the Ole Miss campus, but it has been blatant discrimination. I have a couple of fun events coming up the next few weeks. This year the State of Mississippi has launched an advertising campaign to enlighten folks to the artistic talent that has come from here. The Governor has had an event each month featuring Mississippi artists and this month I am one of the featured artists that will be performing at the Governor’s Mansion on September 30th. As I mentioned in my last newsletter, on October 8th, I am, once again, hosting Senior American Day at the Mississippi State Fair. This is my 26th year at this event and I always look forward to it. There is always someone in attendance who tells me that they have not missed a single year. This year our special guest is Mary Wilson, one of the original Supremes, and, as always, the reigning Miss Mississippi. This year she is Jasmine Murray who was also an American Idol finalist a few years ago.
On October 6th we will be in Tupelo, Mississippi, for the opening of the “Guy Hovis Exhibit” at the Convention and Tourists Bureau. My hometown is publicizing the works of musicians and artists from the Tupelo area. Sis and I (mostly Sis) have spent a lot of time pulling out memorabilia from my career in show business and it will be featured in an exhibit in the lobby of the Tupelo CVB for a month beginning October 6th. I love my hometown and am honored that they chose me for one of their exhibits.
I am looking forward to visiting my daughter, Julie, in Phoenix for a few days this next month. She has a break from school and we will get to spend some quality time together. I love so much about living in Mississippi, but I do not like being so far from my girl. On a positive note, Sis and I are really enjoying watching our one-year-old grandson grow. He is walking and running all over the place now and we are going to have to work on child-proofing the house before his next visit!
As we rapidly approach the holiday season, remember that there is an important election coming up in November. I urge you to take time to get to know the candidates on your ballot--local, state, and federal—and then cast your vote! Our lives seem to get busier we get into November, so check your options for “early voting” or voting via absentee ballot.
Pray for our country and pray that our leaders will ask for guidance as they make decisions that will determine our future. I love the song “Heal Our Land”, written by Senator Orrin Hatch and Janice Kapp Perry, that I recorded on my “One Nation Under God” CD. It is a fitting prayer for our country today.
HEAL OUR LAND
HEAL OUR LAND, PLEASE GRANT US PEACE WE PRAY
AND STRENGTHEN ALL, WHO LACK THE FAITH TO CALL ON THEE EACH DAY
HEAL OUR LAND, PLEASE KEEP US SAFE AND FREE
WATCH OVER ALL WHO UNDERSTAND THE FIGHT FOR LIBERTY
PROTECT US BY THE POWER OF THY ROD
AND KEEP US AS ONE NATION UNDER GOD
HEAL OUR LAND, PLEASE HELP US FIND OUR WAY
FOR IN THY WORD, WE FIND OUR STRENGTH IF WE LOOK UP EACH DAY
|HEAL OUR LAND, AND FILL US WITH THY LOVE
KEEP US UPON THE PATH OF TRUTH THAT COMES FROM HEAV’N ABOVE
HEAL OUR LAND, HEAL OUR LAND AND GUIDE US WITH THY HAND
KEEP US EVER ON THE PATH OF LIBERTY
HEAL OUR LAND, HEAL OUR LAND AND HELP US UNDERSTAND
THAT WE MUST PUT OUR TRUST IN THEE IF WE WOULD BE FREE
GOD BLESS AMERICA !
August 3, 2014
It is August and, in Mississippi, that usually means dreadfully hot and humid. But, despite global warming, we have had to coolest weather we have had in 100 years. It was 60 degrees one morning last week when I went out to get the paper at 6:00 a.m. and I thought I must be dreaming. Our garden is so confused with all the changes in temperature, and above average rainfall. The biggest problem has been trying to keep up with the weeds that are growing faster than the plants.
I want to thank each of you who have sent emails and written letters asking about upcoming concerts for me and for Guy & Ralna. This year I have focused on staying close to home and I am only doing appearances in places close enough that I can get back to sleep in my own bed at night. If that sounds like I am getting old-- I am--and grateful that I am. I think Ralna feels about the same way about traveling and, although we miss seeing so many friends and fans all over the country, we don’t miss the hassle of air travel. I also appreciate those of you who have emailed me to tell me you enjoy my newsletter which has been missing in action for the past few months. Do those of you, who have retired from years of working, find that you don’t get nearly as much accomplished during a day as you did when you were working? It seems I have fallen victim to the old adage that “the time it takes to do a job, expands or contracts to the time you have to do it”. All that is to say that I procrastinate a lot more than I used to.
I have continued to do a couple of concerts every month at local retirement/assisted living/nursing homes and I always enjoy that. Plus, as I have said before, I need to keep singing on a regular basis to keep my voice in shape. At my age, I cannot let the muscles that are used to produce my singing voice go too long without use at a performance level. As some of you may have experienced, when you are inactive for one reason or another, it takes a little longer to get back in shape as we get older.
We had a really fun family vacation on the sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Sis found us a nice, roomy, 4-bedroom house right on the Gulf and we needed all the room to handle ten people and our 10-month-old grandson. It was the first time we have all been in the same place at the same time in a couple of years and we really enjoyed our time together. Of course, the new grandson was the center of attention and he thoroughly entertained us. It was the first time he and his Aunt Julie had met, so they had some catching up to do. We have been making regular trips to the DC area to spend time with him and Sis is going next week to keep him for four days while his parents go on a short trip. We think he now recognizes us when he sees us and that is exciting.
Being at home a lot for the past two or three months has created opportunities for friends and family to come and visit us. It has also given me a chance to play golf on a regular basis and, although my game does not seem to be getting a lot better, I really enjoy the company of a group of guys who are about the same age and who are grateful that we are still physically able to get out and swing at the ball. I also spend a lot of time in the garden that is about twenty minutes away on some land owned by my bother-in-law. He and I have put in some serious sweat time and, although it is going to be late producing because of all the rain early on, the crops are looking good. He also has a lake on his property and we usually try to get in a little fishing before we start to work in the garden.
We just returned from a reunion with two of my old Army buddies. The three of us met when we entered the service at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma in 1964 and, because there was no available housing on base, we rented a house together in nearby Lawton. We are always amazed that after all these years, we can still remember as much as we do about those days. Somehow two of the three of us escaped duty in Viet Nam and the other was only there for a short time and was not in combat. As I have often recounted, I tried every way I could think of to get there. I went through counter-insurgency training and paratrooper school, but they kept sending me back to Ft. Sill where I was a training officer in the Artillery Officer Candidate School. We lost some of our friends in that war and only by the grace of God did we escape to live relatively long lives.
In the first part of September, I am doing something I have not done in a while. I will be doing to special music for the fall revival at Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson, Mississippi. All I know at this time is that there will be three services over two days and I will be singing at each service—how much has yet to be determined. Dr. Shane Stanford, senior pastor of Christ United Methodist of Memphis will be leading the revival. On October 8th I will be appearing at Senior America at the Mississippi State Fair for the 26th year. Mary Wilson, one of the original Supremes, will also be on the show that day. If you are in the area, come on and get your flu shot, have your eyes and blood pressure checked, and enjoy some good music!
GOD BLESS AMERICA!
April 30, 2014
Spring has sprung, and are we evermore happy to see it!! It has been a gruesome winter for most
of the country and here in the Deep South, it has been the coldest and wettest since I moved
back home 24 years ago. I have not been able to get a lawn mower in my yard since early
March and every time it gets just about dry enough—more rain. Now we are dealing with bad
thunderstorms and tornadoes, which are just part of spring in the South. Prayers are certainly
needed for those who have lost loved ones and have had their lives disrupted by the tornadoes of
this last week of April. We are looking for ways, along with contributing to the local Red Cross,
that we can help those in our area who are in need of shelter, food and clothing.
We are praying for a week or so of dry weather now so our farmers can get their crops planted.
My brother-in-law and I worked in our garden this past weekend and have gotten it all in the
ground except for the tomato and pepper plants. We held off on the plants because of the
weather forecast of strong storms over the weekend. Hopefully we will get it all in the ground
by next weekend. The azaleas and dogwoods have been especially beautiful this year and
we attribute that to the cool and wet weather. So there are some positives that came with the
We had a great time In NOLA last month celebrating Sis’ birthday. We met our good friends
from California, Lillian and Morgan Stoddard, and enjoyed the wonderful food and music for a
couple of days. We got there just in time for the St. Paddy’s Day Parade, which appears to me to
be an event for those who did not get enough of Mardi Gras. It was really fun, and we brought
home enough beads to open a store. If you go to New Orleans, don’t miss going to Frenchman’s
Street. Most news and publicity from New Orleans are all about Bourbon Street, but I much
prefer the music and the ambiance of Frenchmen’s Street. One of our favorite places is the
“Spotted Cat”, where there is always fabulous music—although not many seats. It’s better to go
on a week night. The music is so good, I don’t mind standing to hear it.
We had a fun couple of months since I last wrote on this page. Sis has been to Virginia to visit
with the new grandson and we celebrated a lot of birthdays in March. We had a big family
gathering for my Mother’s 95th, which is also my sister’s birthday. Palm Sunday weekend I did a show at the Gertrude Ford Performing Arts Center at Ole Miss with my good friend Mary
Haskell, her daughter, Mary Lane, The Buford Family, and Broadway and TV star, Marilu
Henner. The show was a benefit for a couple of charities at Ole Miss and it was a sellout. I
really enjoyed being a part of the show and was really surprised and pleased that Guy & Ralna’s
former fan club president, Judy Shaw and long-time friend and fan, Charles Letterman, made the
trip to Oxford for the show. The event raised $40,000 for scholarships for kids who need it most.
I am doing a few programs for local retirement homes and church groups over the next couple
of months and looking forward to our family vacation the first week of June. All our kids and
grandkids are coming for a week at a beach on the Gulf (of Mexico)! Our newest grandson will
be a little over nine months old at that time -- a precious age to observe and enjoy.
My Sunday school class has just finished studying a book written by Joan Chittister entitled “The
Gift of Years”. It is a wonderful, enlightening book for those of us who have been fortunate
enough to live relatively long lives and who are wondering what to do with our remaining years.
I highly recommend this book and I wish I had read it ten years ago.
This is an election year for U. S. Congress and a third of the U.S. Senate. For many states there
are also elections for legislature and statewide offices. I encourage you to do some homework
on candidates and don’t rely on television commercials to help you decide for whom you will
vote. Negative campaigning by candidates and political action committees muddy the water
so badly and turn so many people off, that they don’t vote. It is essential to our country’s
future that our citizens know who they are electing to office, so please take the time to make an
educated decision before you vote. Then go and VOTE!
I wish you all a happy, healthy spring and summer and hope that you are able to spend time with
those you love.
God Bless America!!!
March 5, 2014
Well, hello everyone. Yes, I am still alive and well, and sorry I have not written anything for
this page in a while. Nevertheless, I hope that you all are having a good 2014! Isn’t it amazing
that planet Earth has survived to 2014. It appeared to me, and many others, that the way our
civilization was headed, we would not survive this long. For those of us who read and believe
the prophecies of the Bible, the words of the song, “Midnight Cry”, ring out loud and clear.
“I look around me and I see prophecies appearing. And the signs of the time are appearing
everywhere.” However, the end of the world has been predicted for centuries, and we are still
here. It would really be exciting if there was some cause for optimism about the future of planet
Earth. Nevertheless, today is Ash Wednesday and my list for Lent is very short. The main thing
I am going to try to give up, in my simple human mind, is wondering why? The old hymn,
“Farther Along” will be my mantra as I try let go of trying to understand why bad things happen
to good people in this life.
Haven’t we had a bizarre winter in the USA? We have never been this cold for this long in the
southeast and so many of our friends in the rest of the country have had it so much worse than
we. We have been so lucky in our travels to have been in the right place at the right time and
have avoided most of the travel nightmares that many have had to endure. We only have gotten
stranded one time because of cancelled flights.
Sis and I took a trip to Arizona and California in January to visit my daughter and her husband
and to visit friends in California. We caught perfect weather the entire two weeks and really
enjoyed visiting with Julie and Carlos and friends in California that we don’t see often enough.
All the time we were gone, our part of the country was having cold, cold and wet weather and
on our way home, the Jackson airport was closed because of ice on runways. We had to spend a
night in Houston, but got home the next day.
February was a very busy month for me as I had a lot of singing engagements and other
commitments that made that short month seem shorter. A lot of my singing gigs don’t make it
to my Calendar page on my website because many are booked after I send my schedule in. I
did six concerts in February and a few appearances where I just made an appearance or only
sang a couple of songs. Sis made a trip to visit our new grandson and, because of my singing
commitments, I could not go with her. He is now six months old and getting cuter every
day. We get either a picture or a video every morning and an occasional Facetime phone call.
Modern technology is so wonderful for families and friends living far apart!
March is birthday month for us. We have about 15 family and friends who were born in March,
including my wife, my mother and my sister. I might add that they are monumental birthdays for
each. We are going to New Orleans to celebrate Sis’ birthday with friends who are coming from
California. Just as the city gets all cleaned up from Mardi Gras, we and the St. Patrick’s Day
Parade come to town. We always enjoy NOLA and will be happy to celebrate a BIG birthday
for Sis amidst the wonderful food and music of this fabulous one-of-a-kind American city.
I am still contemplating doing a new CD, but have not gotten past the initial talks of what kind
of songs I want to record. There have been lots of requests for me to do an album of 50’s-60’s
songs and others want me to do a country album. It would be difficult to combine the two, so I
may have to do both.
As we pray for warmer weather for everyone, I would like to leave you with a statement maestro
Lawrence Welk made with regard to the status of a certain day in his life: “there are good days
and bad days, and this is one of them.”
Take care of yourselves and “keep a joyful song in your heart”.