Donna Meade is a former Mercury-Polygram recording artist and a member of the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame. Born in Chase City, VA and raised in Richmond, Donna was a cast member of the 1973 revival of the Old Dominion Barn Dance.
In 1989, she met her future husband Jimmy Dean while appearing on TV’s Nashville Now Show, and for over two decades they resided in Richmond, VA performing, writing songs together and traveling the world.Since Dean’s passing in 2010, Donna is enjoying performing again, as well as producing the Old Dominion Barn Dance, the annual Jimmy Dean Music Festival and country music singing sensation Tony Jackson.
Having appeared all over the world, these days Donna enjoys staying close to home with her four miniature poodles, and for the past three years has been married to her childhood sweetheart, Jayson Stevens.
Tony Jackson is now a regular performer on the Old Dominion Barn Dance in Richmond, Virginia and almost certainly the only Bank of America official ever to enjoy a thriving parallel career in country music. Apart from fronting around 75 shows this year, Jackson is currently recording a project in Nashville that will embrace both his original songs and such revered standards as the wistful “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” and the irrepressibly sunny “Bummin’ Around.”
Jackson didn’t grow up a fan of country music. Nor was he swept into it after it surged in popularity in the 1990s. The son of a Navy man, he was raised primarily in Virginia. But like most military kids, he led a base-to-base existence, at one point living with his family in Rota, Spain for three years. He concedes that his early musical background was sketchy at best. “I sang in the Christmas play in the sixth grade,” he recalls. “I had a solo—‘White Christmas.’ Everybody seemed to love it, but I was a wreck. My mother forced me to sing in the church choir, but I was kind of buried in the voices along with everybody else.” This was basically his whole musical resume until “eight or nine years ago” when a friend whose band had lost its lead singer asked Jackson to try out for the spot. “I did,” he says, “and I was hooked after that.”
Two weeks after graduating from high school, Jackson joined the Marines. “I told my dad I was joining because I was sick of taking orders,” he says with a wry grin. There was as much getting-ahead as gung-ho in Jackson’s enlistment. “I was a computer and electronics geek as a teenager,” he says. “When I talked to the recruiter, he told me the Marine Corps had just started a computer science school in Quantico, Virginia. Fortunately, I scored high enough on the entrance exam to go to that school.” It was a smart move. When he finished service, the Bank of America in Richmond snapped him up to work in its Information Technology division, initially assigning him the lowly chore of re-setting passwords. “I was way overqualified,” he says, “but all I knew was I didn’t have to get up at 5:30 in the morning anymore and go running around in the mountains. I’d come into the bank around 8 o’clock, re-set specific passwords and I’m good. I got promoted fast. I was a senior vice president by my early 30s. Now I manage the network operations center for the bank.”
It was while in the Marines that he first started paying serious attention to country music. “My mother listened only to gospel,” he says. “My dad was into jazz, hip hop, R&B, new jack swing—stuff like that. But Armed Forces Radio played everything. When I was living in Spain—when I was 10 to 13—Randy Travis came over there on a USO tour. Some friends and I were out there early when they were setting up the stage, and we actually got to talk to him before we realized he was the guy who’d be performing later. He was really cool to us. In the Marine Corps, when my friends and I played music for each other, we were all homesick. So when you’d listen to these country songs that talked about family and home and heartbreak, it would really grab you. It was a combination of those things that got country on my radar.”
A song that particularly appealed to Jackson was George Jones’ “The Grand Tour.” When Jones died, Jackson and some friends went into a studio and recorded it. In the process, they also made a performance video that eventually wound up on YouTube. Somehow, singer Donna Meade saw the video then circulating around Richmond and decided Jackson should do “The Grand Tour” on the Old Dominion Barn Dance, which she had just resurrected. A commanding performer in her own right, Meade is also the widow of Country Music Hall of Fame member Jimmy Dean and a zealous guardian of his vast musical legacy. After she witnessed Jackson’s standing ovation—an honor that hadn’t yet been accorded to any of the show’s headliners—she offered to co-manage and co-produce him with noted talent manager Jim Della Croce.
Meade and Della Croce then whisked Jackson to Nashville to record at the hallowed RCA Records Studio C, where he is now well into completing a projected EP. Jackson is no newcomer to Nashville, however. He and his band—Jackson Ward—recorded a CD there in 2013 and performed at Tootsie’s and Honk Tonk Central, two of Music City’s brightest beacons for live shows.
In 2016, Meade and Della Croce will take Jackson’s original composition and first single, “Drink By Drink,” to radio and iTunes. In it, listeners will discover one of the strongest, most emotionally engaging voices since Randy Travis blew the doors off country music in 1985 and ushered in a new era. Until then, folks can sample Jackson’s magic at www.tonyjacksonmusic.com.
So step right up. Come on in.
Lynne Carnes has thrilled audiences with her beautiful and powerful voice since the 1980s. From her beginnings as a background singer with her brother Bobby, she ultimately became the lead vocalist of her family’s band and one of Richmond’s most talented and popular country music vocalists. Lynne continues to perform in private venues in the Richmond, VA area, and the Old Dominion Barn Dance is proud to present her a member of its regular cast.
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The Barn Burners consist of some of Richmond’s most talented country music musicians, with more than 200 years of experience between them!
Featured vocalist DANNY MENZIES began performing with his mom Janet and sister Bobbie on the legendary New Dominion Barn Dance—his first gig at age 5—and has since gone on to play drums with many Nashville stars, as well as his fellow Barn Burners throughout the years. The talented and eldest son of the famed Menzies Family Band says he is honored and privileged to be performing with them once again.
Veteran musician CURTIS MEADE is lead guitarist and band director for the Barn Burners, providing harmony and lead vocals as well. The older brother of Donna Meade (Donna’s main inspiration as a singer and musician), is one of the most respected in the Richmond area with more than 55 years in the business.
Drummer DANNY ‘BRIZ’ BRIZENDINE is a veteran musician who has traveled the country with local bands, as well as Nashville stars including Mel Street. He has long been the favorite drummer of many groups in the area, with his years of experience on stage and in the recording studio. Besides performing at the Barn Dance Danny regularly offers his extraordinary talents at his church.
There’s hardly a musician or country music fan around who doesn’t know the name RYLAND TINNELL, a true legend on the steel guitar. As a veteran of locals bands including Teenie Chenault and the Country Rockers and the Honky Tonk Experience, he has toured Viet Nam and traveled the U.S. for over 5o years. Ryland is one of Richmond’s most talented and respected musicians.
JOHNNY HANEY plays bass guitar and sings lead and harmony vocals for the Barn Burners. Having played with a variety of country, rock, soul and beach music groups including Robbin Thompson, Donna Meade and the Andrew Lewis Band, Johnny is extremely versatile and excels at all kinds of music. He is also in great demand in the recording studio as one of our area’s premier musicians and vocalists.
Another extremely versatile member of the Barn Burners is J.W. BELDEN on keyboards and harmony vocals. Also a veteran of local bands including the Honky Tonk Experience, the legendary Barracudas and the Ron Moody Band, J.W. is experienced at all kinds of music. Hailing from a Grammy Award winning family, his musical influences and talents perfectly round out the sound of the Barn Burners.
excerpts from her website bio
“To make it in this business, you either have to be first, great or different,” says living legend Loretta Lynn. “And I was the first to ever go into Nashville, singin’ it like the women lived it.”
Loretta first arrived in Nashville 55 years ago, signing her first recording contract on February 1, 1960, and within a matter of weeks, she was at her first recording session. A self-taught guitarist and songwriter, Lynn became one of the most distinctive performers in Nashville in the 1960s and 1970s, shaking things up by writing her own songs, many of which tackled boundary-pushing topics drawn from her own life experiences as a wife and mother.
In addition to being “first,” she was also “great” and “different.” Loretta Lynn’s instantly recognizable delivery is one of the greatest voices in music history. As for “different,” no songwriter has a more distinctive body of work. In lyrics such as “Don’t Come Home A- Drinkin’” and “Your Squaw Is on the War Path” she refused to be any man’s doormat. She challenged female rivals in “You Ain’t Woman Enough” and “Fist City.” She showed tremendous blue-collar pride in “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “You’re Lookin’ at Country.” She is unafraid of controversy, whether the topic is sex (“Wings Upon Your Horns”), divorce (“Rated X”), alcohol (“Wouldn’t It Be Great”) or war (“Dear Uncle Sam”). “The Pill,” her celebration of sexual liberation, was banned by many radio stations. Like the lady herself, Loretta Lynn’s songs shoot from the hip.
As millions who read her 1976 autobiography or saw its Oscar winning 1980 film treatment are aware, Loretta is a Coal Miner’s Daughter who was raised in dire poverty in a remote Appalachian Kentucky hamlet. Living in a mountain cabin with seven brothers and sisters, she was surrounded by music as a child.
“I thought everybody sang, because everybody up there in Butcher Holler did,” she recalls. “Everybody in my family sang. So I really didn’t understand until I left Butcher Holler that there were some people who couldn’t. And it was kind of a shock.” She famously married Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn when she was a barely schooled child of 13. “Doo” was a 21-year-old war veteran with a reputation as a hell raiser. When she was seven months pregnant with her first child, they moved far away from Appalachia to Custer, Washington. By age 18, she had four children (two more, twins, came along in 1964). Isolated from her native culture and burdened with domestic work, she turned to music for solace.
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Loretta continued to dominate the charts as the ‘70s drew to a close, scoring major hits with 1976’s “Somebody Somewhere,” 1977’s “Out of My Head and Back in My Bed” and 1979’s “I’ve Got a Picture of Us on My Mind.” Her 1982 smash hits “I Lie” and “Making Love From Memory” carried her into the new decade.
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To read full bio, click here.