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0528-MUS-03/2011
Nita Lynn
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The entertainer, who would later be known as Nita Lynn, was born in Owensboro, Kentucky as Juanita Earlynne Morris. Soon the family (her father was in the U.S. Air Force) moved to Marked Tree, Arkansas, where her two sisters and brother were born. "We were country kids," she recalls. While living in Little Rock, she was on a children's radio show at three years old, and was even elected queen of the show. Later, a country music show at Robinson Auditorium in Little Rock, Barnyard Frolic, featured her as a young teen talent who sang and played guitar. As an adult, she worked with Jimmie Davis who booked gigs on Barnyard Frolic, so Nita returned frequently. Among other stars on the show were Jim Ed Brown and his sister, Maxine. At age 17 she began playing with Paul Howard and The Arkansas Cotton Pickers. The family moved to the Shreveport-Bossier City area when her father was transferred to Barksdale Air Force Base. At age 15 she appeared on Louisiana Hayride. "My best Hayride memories are of when I was a little fifteen-year-old girl hanging around backstage just hoping somebody would let me sing." She finally got to sing, while the show was on a break for the newscast. "I didn't care it wasn't on the radio. It was on the Hayride anyhow," she recalls. By age 17 she performed on a short-lived show on Channel 12 in Shreveport, The Country Gentlemen and Nita, and appeared on Grand Ole Opry. She was "terribly nervous," Nita recalls. She met Elvis Presley, but says, "I didn't like him because I didn't like cat music and he had just murdered dear, ole Bill Monroe's Blue Moon of Kentucky". She says she was one of several country stars who resented Elvis turning a classic country song into a rock-n-roll piece. Nita believes Presley "ruined" the Louisiana Hayride. "Because they would have kids there, where they'd previously had middle-aged people and families. So the kids came and as it was with Roy Acuff, you know, they didn't want anybody but Elvis," she recalls. She would eventually work on a show at WCKY in Cincinnati with Roy Acuff and Elvis Presley after Colonel Tom Parker became Presley's manager. Meanwhile Bobby Martin and Henry Jerome's orchestra recorded her How Long. She was also writing songs for Tree International in the 1960s. Nita left the industry while she was raising her sons, Robin and Keith Vosbury, and did not return to music until 1980. She performed in Houston at a private club, Park Towers, for a few years, working as many as six nights a week before returning to reside in Shreveport. In 1980 a Dallas disc jockey, Jim Newton, called and asked if she'd help him on a new television show. She taped variety shows in Dallas for "about four to five years", working with talents such as Vern Stovall and Boxcar Willie. "I loved to do TV. I love the camera," she remarks. Nita recalls recording in those times as much different than studio work today. She did plenty of session work in Nashville, when musicians might record a song in one take, using only two to four tracks. Her song, Kiss and Makeup with Jimmy Parrish hit Number 16 on Billboard. She also performed on a three-week tour with Bob Wills. "Still the best little singer in the business," Wills told her. She also worked with Chet Atkins.