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CHRISTIANITY: "JUNE and STAN and COUNTRY MUSIC"

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Old chapel

(Old Chapel Window - Redeemer Lutheran Church - Fridley)

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Introductory Note: June and Stan both grew up on a small dairy farm in rural Wisconsin...June in rural Colfax, Wisconsin and Stan in rural Rice Lake, Wisconsin...Normal Saturday night activities for both families was to tune into the "Grand Ole Opry" on Saturday Nights on their battery operated AM radios.

June's Father Henry Rolstad, played the violin and would often play at local "Barn Dances" and Country and Western music was the music that he played.

In later years during Stan's Forensic Science occupation, visits to Nashville, Tennessee would take place during forensic science conferences...June and Stan would use the evening's to attend the Grand Ole Opry...Stan and June attended the Grand Ole Opry in the years 1990, 1992 and 1996..

On two occasions, June and Stan stayed at the famous "Opryland Hotel"...Country and Western Music has always been an important part of their lives...June and Stan's Song was the "Tennessee Waltz"...this song hit the top of the charts in 1951 during Patti Paige's stardom, the same year that June and Stan met in Barron, Wisconsin. (As a strange coincidence, Patti Paige's birthday is on the same day, month and year as June's Birthday.)

And Yes, June and Stan are both Christians...both were raised by Christian Parents, both were "Confirmed" in the Lutheran Church and both  have been life long members of the Fridley Redeemer Lutheran Church...(Redeemer Old Chapel Window shown above.)

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CONNIE SMITH: and "SACRED" COUNTRY MUSIC

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connie smith

(Connie Smith)

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One of the icons in Christianity and Country music is Connie Smith...during her  medley in a recording called "Sunday Country", Connie Smith made the best "3 minute" sermon in behalf of Christianity that I have ever head...this "3 Minute Sermon" is reproduced below...

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Connie Smith's Statement/Sermon in Behalf of a Strong Christian Life

"This is always one of the very most highlights of my year is get to come and be at Sunday Morning Country, and such wonderful folks that come to see us, we feel your love toward us and there's wonderful folks out here, that's just, just itching to give you their love because of the love they've received from the Father...

Because we have a loving Father that's love is never dying, and his mercy is everlasting, and his kindness and his gentleness and his tenderness is just unspeakable. There's no way to explain the love of God.

If, your'e not sure that he loves you, if you've never accepted him as your Savior, then you haven't begun to live. I don't care what you've think you've done, I'm telling you, you haven't begun to live, if you haven't accepted him as your Savior.

That's not the end of life before we die and go to Heaven. That's the beginning of life. Cause he's come to give us life and to give it more abundantly.

We have an enemy, that's come to rob and kill and destroy, but greater is Christ that's in us than he that's in the world. But let him be in there so that he can fight your battles.

We can't deliver ourselves, we can't save ourselves. We have no victory except the victory that's in Christ, but in Christ, we're more than conquerors. So let him touch your life in a way and,  if you've walked with him 50 years, he's got a newness of life for you today.

And i thank you Lord, and I praise you because your'e a great, good, and loving and a tender God. And i want to sing you this song. He inhabits the praises of his people and he's our very, very best friend. How Great Thou Art...How Great Thou Art..Oh Lord My God."

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Connie Smith has a medley called "Sunday Country"...as a part of that medley Connie makes the above short commentary midway into the medley...a commentary on the Christian life...that commentary is reproduced above...I consider it one of the best such short all inclusive sermon type commentary I have ever seen...and in such few words.

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Note: The above conversion from from Connie's spoken word to the written word was done through the courtesy of Lora Leah Robinson of Benton, Louisiana. Thanks Lora!

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CONNIE SMITH'S LIFE

 Connie Smith

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Connie Smith (Born Constance June Meador; 14 August 1941) is an American Country Music artist. Connie has been active since 1964, Connie is widely considered to be one of the finest female vocalists.

Connie Smith has earned 11 Grammy award nominations, 20 top ten "Billboard" country singles, and 31 charting albums, three of which have hit number one.

On October 21, 2012, Connie Smith became the 12th solo female vocalist and 19th woman to be elected to the Grand Ole Opry's "Country Music Hall of Fame."

Artists such as Dolly Parton, George Jones, and Chely Wright have cited Smith as one of the best vocalists in the music industry...Eddie Stubbs of Nashville radio station WSM and the Grand Ole Opry have dubbed Smith as the "The Rolls-Royce of Country Singers.".

Connie Smith's awards for her Sacred Music and Gospel Music:

1966 - Grammy Award for "Best Sacred Recording"..."Connie Smith Sings Great Sacred Songs"

1971 - Grammy Award for "Best Sacred Performance"..."Whispering Hope"

1974 - Grammy Award for "Best Inspirational Performance..."All The Praises"

1976 - Grammy Award for "Best Gospel Performance..."Connie Smith Sings Hank Williams Gospel"

1979 - Music City News Award for "Gospel group/Act of the Year"

 

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CHRISTIANITY AND COUNTRY MUSIC

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While I consider Connie Smith to be the icon in Christianity in Country Music, literally ALL of the Classic Country Western Stars could/can be said to be Christians and their recordings and records and performances display their Christianity!...I do  not recall any of the Classic Country Western Stars who were or are not Christians.

Below I list nine (9) of the most/best well known Stars (Including Connie Smith) and all are Christians with the examples of their Christianity as found in their recordings...All are  members of the "Country Music Hall of Fame". With each of them, we take an in depth look at their lives and their sacred and gospel music.

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The Birth of the Classic Country-Western Music

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If we were to go back in time to the birth of the Classic Country Western music and look at the three recognized founders: PATSY CLINE, JIM REEVES and HANK WILLIAMS:

We would find that they are all Christians, with many their top songs being Christian songs...who does not remember Patsy Cline and her "Just a Closer Walk with Thee", or Hank Williams and "I Saw The Light" or Jim Reeves and the great classic "Take My Hand Precious Lord."

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JOHNNY CASH and JUNE CARTER CASH

Johnny and June Cash

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Johnny CASH and his wife June Carter Cash...(Johnny Cash (1932-2003)...Johnny Married his Wife June Carter in 1968. Both Johnny and June died in 2003...Johnny died on September 12th, 2003 in Nashville,Tennessee. June preceded Johnny in death by about 5 months.

Johnny was raised as a Southern Baptist...Johnny and June both appeared  several times on the Billy Graham Crusade TV Specials. A number of Gospel and religious Songs were a part of their many albums...One of their well known religious hit songs was: "Will The Circle be Unbroken."

The Johnny Cash/June Carter Cash Gospel Albums are: "Ultimate Gospel", "The Greatest Gospel Songs", "Hymns by Johnny Cash", "Gospel Glory" and "My Mother's Hymn Book."

June Carter Cash died on May 15th, 2003 at the age of 73, following complications of heart surgery...Pastor Wilson of the First Baptist Church of Hendersonville, Tennessee, described June as "A kind and thoughtful Christian who loved her God, her family and her friends."

Johnny Cash comments on Grief Share: "There is no way around Grief and Loss: You can doge all you want, but sooner or later you just have to go into it, through it, and hopefully come out on the other side. The world you find there will never be the same as the world you left." Johnny's children reported hearing Johnny crying for his lost wife June, late at night.

 

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GEORGE JONE'S and TAMMY WYNETTE

George and Tammy

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George Jones, Musician, singer and songwriter...Born September 12th, 1931 in Saratoga, Texas. Died April 26th, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee...His work was: ...Country, Country Gospel, Country Pop, Gospel, Honky Tonk, Nashville Sound/Country/politan, Religious, and Traditional Country.

Tammy Wynette, Guitarist, Country Music Singer, Songwriter...Born May 5th, 1942, Itawamba County, Mississippi. Died April 6th, 1998, Nashville, Tennessee... Married to George Jones 1969-1975 (6 Years).

During his career, George Jones received many Grammy's and other awards...In 1992 He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Also during his career, George released many Gospel songs on various labels...It was in 2003, that he released "THE GOSPEL COLLECTION"...2 CD's of Gospel music both classical and traditional...songs included: "Amazing Grace", "Just a Closer Walk With Thee", "Peace in the Valley", "The Old Rugged Cross", "It's No Secret", "A Little Talk With Jesus", "If I cold Hear My Mother Pray Again," and many others.

In 1972 George and Tammy released a joint Album entitled "WE LOVE TO SING ABOUT JESUS"...Epic Records.

When George Jones Died April 26th 2013, his second wife Nancy Jones of their 30 years marriage was sitting with him at his beside and crying...George told her not to cry...that he had a long life (82 Years) and that he had made ,mistakes that he paid for, and had many good years and was ready to go...he knew he was going to Heaven...Nancy recalls the last hours:

"He was never in pain and was alert about six (6) hours before He passed. No suffering and he was joking and saying "'why y'all crying" He said, "I'm going to Heaven". "I truly believe He's right there now" she said..."We did a lot of praying in the last month or so."..."We were just standing at the foot of the bed and George just hadn't said nothing, and all of the sudden he opened his eyes, and I was fixing to go toward him, and the doctor kind of held me back, and George said,  "Well hello there" he said, "I've been looking for you...my name's George Jone's" withing moments he was gone..."So in my heart, I know he was talking to God."

 

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 WILLY HUGH NELSON

Willy Nelson

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Willy Hugh Nelson was born in Abbott, Texas on 20 April 1933...while growing up, Willy attended the local Methodist Church in Abbott...Later in life this same Methodist Church fell into hard times and the building was put up for sale...Willy came to the rescue by buying the church as a gift to the congregation.

Willy was said to have sold Bibles door to door a one of his early occupations prior to succeeding as a songwriter and singer.

Later while living in Vancouver, Washington in the mid 1950's, Willy wrote and sold "Family Bible" one of his first songs...it became a hit song...a number of successful records by Ernest Tubb, Merle Haggard, Jim Ed Brown, George Jones and Willy Nelson himself... resulted from this early song by Willy Nelson.

Willy firmly declares his love for Jesus Christ and declares he is a Christian "Always Have Been and Always Will Be."

Willy's Gospel Song "Uncloudy Day" hit the Country Top ten in 1975.

Willy also had a CD entitled "Old Time Religion" in 1986.

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 KRIS KRISTOFFERSON

 Kris K

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Kris Kristofferson, was born June 22nd, 1936 in Brownsville, Texas...He is an American Singer and Songwriter and Actor. Some of his best known songs are: "Me and Bobby McGee", "For The  Good  Times", "Sunday Mornin Coming  Down". and "Help Me Make it Through the Night".

In 2004 Kris was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

He is a part of the Super Group called the "Highwaymen"...(He along with Willy Nelson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings made up the four (4) Member Group.

Kristofferson had a "Profound Religious Experience" that resulted in his 1973 hit song; "Why Me Lord"...he described the event as a period that he was going through a difficult personal time in his life. He was attending a Church Sermon led by a Reverend Jimmie Rogers Snow...He describes his experience as follows:

"I had a profound Religious Experience during the Sermon" Kristofferson said..."Something that had  never happened to me before."...Kristofferson goes on to speak of being overtaken during the Sermon. "I found myself weeping in public. I felt this forgiveness I didn't even know I needed."

Out of this experience came his song and recording of "Why Me Lord". His recording became the No 1 hit song in 1973...and his life has never been the same since! He is now a deeply Religious man and dedicated Christian.

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RAY PRICE

Ray Price

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Ray Price was born January 12th, 1926 in Perryville, Texas. He died December 16th 2013 at Mount Pleasant, Texas (Pancreatic Cancer). He married his wife Janie on June 11th, 1970 and they were together when he died in 2013. His last album made shortly before he died, was dedicated to his wife Janie.

Ray Price played and sang Country, Country Gospel, Country Pop. Gospel, Hard Bop.  He reached the Billboard Hot 100, eight times from 1958-73 and had seven No. 1 hits and more than 100 titles on the Billboard Country Chart from 1952-1989. By 1952 Ray Price was a regular Member of the Grand Ole Opry.

He was Inducted into the "Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum" in 1996. Price continued  performing and recording well into his 70's.

Religious songs and records: 'Soft Ran was Falling" (And the Angels all cried) 1961...this record was third on the charts. "This Time Lord", November 1974, Myrrh Records.

Following his death in December 2013, Ray's wife Janie released a "final" message for Ray's fans:

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"I love my fans and  have devoted my life to reaching out to them. I appreciate their support all these years, and I hope that I haven't let them down. I am at peace. I love Jesus, I m going to be just fine. 'Don't worry about me. I'll see you again some day."

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JEANNIE SEELY

Seely

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Jeannie Seely, Singer, Song writer and Actress, who was born on July 6th, 1940 at Titusville, Pennsylvania. She is an American Country Music singer and Grand Ole Opry Star. She is best known for her 1966 Grammy Award winning Country Hit "Don't Touch Me" which peaked at No. 1 on the Record World and Cash Box Country Singles Chart and 2 on Billboard.

Jeannie Seely is a Christian lady and was Baptized and raised in the Methodist Church. She currently attends the Pennington United Methodist Church in Donelson, Tennessee.

Jeannie Seely celebrated her 50th Anniversary with the Grand Ole Opry on September 16th, 2017.

Jeanne Seely is also noted for her many albums and singles of Religious and Sacred Songs.

Note worthy examples of her Christian and Sacred Hits are:

"What a 'friend We Have In Jesus"

"Take My Hand" (1975)

"Me and Jesus" (2011)

Jeannie Seely was also a part of a "Grand Ole Opry" special "Gospel Medley" performed in 2011 by a group of the Grand Ladies of the Opry. (The group was made up of, Jean Shepard, Jan Howard, Jeannie Seely, Wilma Lee cooper, Jeanne Pruett and Connie Smith) ...The Gospel medley included these Gospel songs:

"It wasn't God that Made Honky Tonk Angels", "I Saw the Light", "Will The Circle Be Unbroken", "I'll  Fly away",  and more...

 

 

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Reader's Comments

Lora Leah Robinson - Benton, Louisiana - (16 January 2017): "I loved it Mr. Stan...I listened to Ms Connie sing and even though, I felt I knew the words to what she was going to say by heart as i had played and stopped and re-winded so many times writing it down...it still held that magic for me...as when I was transcribing it...the old fashioned way...and it was an honor to do so..for Ms. June...and you !! if the occasion ever arises, that i can do it again, let me know...Ms Connie had a way with words in that commentary, you could tell it was impromptu, but it was such an important message and she conveyed it wonderfully...and the page is a fitting addition to Ms. June's website...loved it ."

Kat Wheeler - Tampa, Florida - (11 July 2018): "I loved reading this - about all the Greatest Country and Western Singers that are also Christians...just enjoyed  reading this...thank you for sharing."

Mona Johnson Glesne - Minneapolis, Minnesota - (12 July 2018): "I found this post very enlightening as I hadn't even heard of several of these artists. I didn't grow up with Country Music so unless a song became a "Crossover" then I don't know many of these songs. I'm not surprised that many of these artists are Christians because of their backgrounds growing up. Churches and faith have always been front and center in the Bible Belt. Good post Stan."...Stan's Note: Mona Glesne is the wife of the former Senior Pastor at June and my lifelong, and my current Lutheran church in Fridley, Minnesota, the Redeemer Lutheran Church.

Catherine Jones-Hatcher - Richmond, Virginia - (13 July 2018): "You really did your homework regarding the background of each of he artists you highlighted. It is quite a lengthy piece and most interesting, especially to those of us who also love the music genre. I feel certain that readers will find it to be informative. Though I was familiar with all of those artists except Jeannie, I did learn new facts about each of them. I love picturing you and June  at the Grand Ole Opry!! Picture her smiling from ear to ear as she sat beside her date...tapping her foot and enjoying the music she grew up listening to. Her love of her father and his playing his own fiddle surely came to her mind on those evenings. Those memories likely stayed with her for the years to come, especially when you treated the nursing home to the musical concerts in her honor. Having been raised in the church both of you already had a strong faith, which was nurtured and enriched by music which reinforced and affirmed your Christian faith. That faith was most certainly fundamental to each of you and instrumental in the strong foundation on which your remarkable marriage was based. Your love of one another was surpased only by each of your loves of God. God bless you both."

Donna J. Burtch - Natick, Massachusetts - (14 July 2018): "This is the first time I have read through this. It was terrific to read and underscored again, how you and June had some many strong pillars connecting you. Faith, family, friends, forensic science travels, and similar growing up experiences. The music is a nice tie in too."

John Stevens - Kaufman, Texas - (14 July 2018): "You have written about the lives of those I heard on radio growing up. As time went on they were an inspiration too as I learned to play the guitar. Thank you Stan very much for bringing the lives forward to inspire us again."

 

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June's Passing

June 1994

After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on:

 

"June K. (Rolstad) Berg - In Memoriam"