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”.