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Saturday 3 December 2016

Rockin' Rowley: Willie pines for his fellow outlaws

Published 05/10/2016 | 02:30

Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson
Mary Duff
Donna Taggart

The CMA Awards - the Oscars of country music in America - have been on the go for 50 years.

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And to celebrate the 50th anniversary, which takes place in Nashville on November 2, the biggest video in country music history is now available to view on YouTube.

Called 'Forever Country' it features thirty CMA award-winning acts spanning the decades and performing a medley of John Denver's 'Take Me Home', Willie Nelson's 'On The Road Again' and Dolly Parton's 'I Will Always Love You.'

When Willie Nelson looks back over the half century that has passed, he remembers some of the close friends in the business who are no longer with us.

In particular, he pines for Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash "two brothers who meant the world to me."

Writing in his autobiography, Willie says: "I looked at Waylon and Johnny as giants. They were rugged individualists and great American heroes.

"They each had paid deep down dues, lived through one storm after another, and survived to tell the good news.

"They were true to their craft, true to their friends, and spokesmen for everyday people."

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He remembers Waylon as a leader who wasn't afraid to take on the establishment in the music business. "Waylon said, 'Hoss, first we got to please ourselves. Once we do that, the fans will follow us - not those guys in suits behind their big desks."

Johnny was another big influence on Willie's life. "Johnny was a gentleman," he writes. "He was a man of compassion. He championed the disadvantaged.

He was one of the first artists who made it a practice to visit prisons and treat those inmates with respect. Like Waylon, he was also a brilliant writer whose songs will never die."

Just like the songs of Willie Nelson himself.

Omagh's digital sensation

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Folk and country singer Donna Taggart has a busy life these days juggling her role as mum to two young children under the age of three, her career in children's education and performing.

The talented singer works in children's education, providing behavioural support to youngsters on the autistic spectrum.

Donna, a native of Omagh is now enjoying the success of her current single, 'Jealous of the Angels', which has had over 32 million views on Facebook and 2.5 million hits on YouTube and shooting to number on in several countries on the iTunes charts.

The song was written by Canadian Jenn Bostic following the tragic death of her father.

Donna is also thrilled with the success of her album, Celtic Lady Vol. 2.

"I am very much an ordinary mummy at home doing all the ordinary stuff, so it takes a bit of adjusting to all that's happened," she says.

Moving up the genre gears

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Daniel O'Donnell's touring partner Mary Duff has just released a new traditional country single, 'I Can't Find A Reason To Stay'.

The superb track is featured on her current critically acclaimed album, 'Changing Lanes', which was released earlier this year.

Meathwoman Mary's latest album is a great mix of styles from country to the rocker tunes like 'Too Damn Much', which features the harmonica wizardry of Don Baker.

Now back on a 170-date world tour with Daniel, Mary will feature on his PBS TV special in America next month.

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