News Column

Singing her way to the top

August 8, 2014

By Stephanie Butzer, The High Point Enterprise, N.C.

Aug. 08--TRINITY -- Donna Hughes has 133 songs on iTunes -- soon to be 165 -- and has had Grammy Award-winner Alison Krauss perform one of her songs at the 2005 Country Music Association Awards.

But when she was 5 years old, Hughes was kicked out of her piano class for making up her own music instead of reading it.

To this day, she still doesn't read music. Instead, she prefers to play and sing by ear to understand how the music should feel instead of studying it on a paper.

It seems to be working.

Hughes, who lives in Trinity, will release a music video and two new albums -- "Fly," a piano CD, and "From the Heart," a bluegrass CD -- at a premier concert at Sunset Theatre in Asheboro.

She said she is most excited for the music video, which will be shown at the theater where her mother used to take her to watch movies. The concert will be the first time anybody but the videographer, Anthony Ladd, sees the video.

The song she chose for the music video, "The Red Oak Tree," tells the story of what a tree in a cemetery sees through its lifetime. Hughes said the music video includes everything from Civil War re-enactments to an 1800 wedding to a funeral scene with a horse-drawn military caisson.

All the shooting locations are near her home and the actors and actresses -- over 100 of them -- are her family, friends and people who have supported her music.

She said she has high hopes for the video.

"It was above my expectations," she said. "Everybody did what they were told and showed up at the right time with the right thing on. Everybody had a great time."

While going through the 33 songs on the two albums, Hughes noticed many of them were slow and sad. One song, called "Dog on a 10-Foot Chain," came to her on winter nights. She said many dogs near her home are always kept on chains, and the thought of them outside in below-freezing temperatures kept her up for many nights.

"I didn't really know how it was going to turn out, but several humane societies have contacted me, and there's a guy in Iowa who's a videographer and he's compiling a video for public service announcement," she said. "He's premiering that video Aug. 16 on International Homeless Pet Day."

Toward the end of project, she said decided she had to come up with some humorous songs to lighten the CDs.

"One day, I got in the Walmart checking line and was like, 'This is it, this is what I'm going to write about,'" she said.

She shared the song, titled "The Walmart Checkout Line," at her hairdresser's one day and the amateur YouTube video hit 5,000 views within the month. With the catchy tune and humorous lyrics about the difficulties of checking out at Walmart, she said she hopes it will go viral once the studio version comes out.

"Who would have thought years ago that 'Redneck Woman' by Gretchen Wilson would sell $4 million records?" she said. "That woman never needs to do another thing, ever again, on account of that one song. It's like Billy Ray Cyrus and his 'Achy Breaky Heart' song."

She said she hopes "The Walmart Checkout Line" will be her ticket to the big stages. But even if it becomes a hit, she said she would still write and record songs. -- 888-3617

Release concert

Aug. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Sunset Theatre in Asheboro.


(c)2014 The High Point Enterprise (High Point, N.C.)

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Source: High Point Enterprise (NC)

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