Posted by on October 28, 2013

LAURA MCFARLAND
Posted: September 19, 2013
Reprinted from The Winchester Star

H. Russell Potts Jr., executive director of the Winchester Education Foundation, announces Wednesday that Merle Haggard will perform at the fifth Patsy Cline Classic. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

H. Russell Potts Jr., executive director of the Winchester Education Foundation, announces Wednesday that Merle Haggard will perform at the fifth Patsy Cline Classic. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Country music legend Merle Haggard will perform for the fifth annual Patsy Cline Classic in November.

Haggard, a music icon whose career has spanned more than four decades, will present a concert at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 in Handley High School’s Patsy Cline Theatre.

H. Russell Potts Jr., executive director of the Winchester Education Foundation, made the announcement Wednesday in the 1,327-seat theater. Proceeds from the show will benefit the foundation, which supports the city’s public schools.

Haggard’s performance will be the fifth Patsy Cline Classic concert in as many years. The previous years’ artists were Willie Nelson, The Beach Boys, Wynonna Judd and LeAnn Rimes.

“In sports or entertainment, there are names that are timeless,” he said. “That is the way Merle Haggard is.”

When Cline’s widower, Charlie Dick, was told Haggard was the entertainer for this year’s classic, he was excited because Haggard is a close friend and was a friend of Cline’s before she died, Potts said.

In a statement provided for the announcement, Dick talked about his first time hearing Haggard at a Las Vegas nightclub in 1962 and the fact that shortly afterward the young singer had his first record in Nashville. “The rest was history.”

Dick said Haggard is “a tremendous singer and songwriter, and I’m thrilled that he’ll be performing on Patsy’s Stage in the Patsy Cline Theatre.”

Haggard, 76, has released 78 albums and had almost 40 No. 1 hits, including “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,” “Workin’ Man Blues,” “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink,” and “Pancho and Lefty.”

Tickets sales began at 6 a.m. today on Ticketfly.com, and prices range from $39.50 to $79.50, depending on the seat, said Cody Dearing of Zolivia LLC, which has booked all the classic concerts. For the first time, people may pick their seats. “With Merle Haggard’s notoriety and iconic career, we feel this pricing was very affordable.”

“Okie from Muskogee” crossed over to the pop charts and earned Haggard Entertainer of the Year in 1970 from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.

Some of his other awards include five Top Male Vocalist of the Year and three Top Vocal Duo of the Year awards from the academy, CMA’s Male Vocalist of the Year in 1970 and Album of the Year in 1970 and 1972, and Grammy Awards in 1984 for Best Male Country Vocal Performance and 1998 for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals.

He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977, the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994, and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2010.

Haggard is as “American as you can get,” and having him perform at the classic is a major feat, said Christian P. Schweiger of Zolivia LLC. “We have been after him for years, and we got him!”

Their efforts were helped both by the praise of some of the other performers who have starred in the classic and the fact that Winchester was Cline’s hometown, Potts said. “For all five, paying tribute to Patsy Cline was part of what brought them here.”

Foundation interim president Randy Bryant praised the level of talent the organizers have brought to Winchester through the years and said they have surpassed themselves with Haggard.

“Merle Haggard is a legend not only in country music but the music world as a whole,” he said.

The proceeds from the classics go to support the work the foundation does with Winchester schools, including the free admission program for Winchester students to athletic contests and enhancement of faculty life, Potts said. Rimes’ concert raised “in excess of $20,000” for the fund.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com

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