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Influential country singer schedules two Pasco shows

Charlie Louvin, a regular performer at the Grand Ole Opry, rarely performs outside of Nashville.

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001


Grammy Award-winning country and gospel music legend Charlie Louvin will be in Pasco County on Sunday for two shows, one in New Port Richey, the other in Dade City.

Louvin and his brother Ira (who was killed in an auto accident in 1965) have been called "the most important brother duet in the history of country music." They are considered the main inspiration for the Everly Brothers and have influenced the music of Elvis Costello, U2, Elvis Presley, Tom Petty, the Eagles and the Beatles.

The Louvin brothers were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1979. Their songs have been recorded by Ray Charles, Judy Collins, The Byrds, Emmylou Harris and Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler, among others. Charlie Louvin was named to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in 1991.

His most recent album, Charlie Louvin: 50 years of Makin' Music, features duets with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Charlie Daniels, Crystal Gayle, Tanya Tucker and Melba Montgomery.

Louvin has been a Grand Ole Opry member since 1955 and still performs there on Friday and Saturday nights. The two Pasco concerts are among the few appearances the 74-year-old performer makes outside of Nashville.

"I love The Everly Brothers, but there's something purer and more raw about Charlie and Ira Louvin," Emmylou Harris once said. "It makes your hair stand up."

"I don't know how I could have made it without those old country songs," Johnny Cash said of the Louvin Brothers' compositions.

Louvin has performed steadily since his childhood in Alabama, where he was born in 1927, and was a headliner during the 1950s and 1960s (a young Elvis Presley once opened for him). During the early 1960s, the Louvin brothers had a dozen songs on Billboard magazine's country charts, including the No. 1 single, I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby. There has been a resurgence of interest in him, his songwriting and his singing style in recent years.

Early in their career, he and his brother developed a distinctive style of harmony called "shape note singing" based on the gospel harmonies the brothers learned in their church choir.

"Louvin's voice has changed noticeably over the years, mellowing the process, but retaining its range and control," wrote biographer Jon Johnson for Country Standard Time.

A retrospective of 24 of the Louvin Brothers' recordings was issued by Capitol Records in 1995, When I Stop Dreaming: The Best of the Louvin Brothers. In 1997, three of the Louvin Brothers albums were reissued by Capitol and the Razor & Tie label.

The local concerts are being held to raise money to send members of the Pasco Chapter of Orange Blossom Country Music Association to national competition at Pigeon Forge, Tenn., in March. Opening acts are Sunflower and Harvey Gene's WBAR Country Legends Band.

Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis.

At a glance

WHAT: Charlie Louvin

WHEN AND WHERE: 3 p.m. Sunday at Chester McKay VFW Hall, off Seven Springs Blvd., New Port Richey; and at 8 p.m. at the Dade City Moose Lodge No. 397, U.S. 301 north of Dade City

TICKETS: Admission is $7 in advance, $8 at the door. Call 376-3502 for New Port Richey tickets; call (352) 567-9762 for Dade City tickets.

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