Who was/is Barbara Allen ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
Barbara Allen tackles Sweet Willie with a sore-throated vocal power that should make Brenda Lee fans feel right at home. The resemblance didn't stop there (she was only 5'2" tall) but it wasn't much help to a career which began when she gave up typing and joined Chuck Bland's Orchestra on Norfolk's Hometown Hoedown in 1955.
Allen, who was born on a farm near Zuni, Virginia circa 1937, re-located to Nashville on the advice of Ernest Tubb. There, she was discovered by songwriter Vic McAlpin who obtained her Decca contract in 1957. Her debut, Between Now And Then, got a fine review in 'Billboard' where she was voted Third Most Promising Female Singer of 1958. Early the following year, Allen joined the New Dominion Barn Dance which was broadcast live on Saturday nights from the WRVA Theatre in downtown Richmond. (The Old Dominion Barn Dance had given Janis Martin her big break in 1955). Despite that exposure - the Barn Dance was heard in 33 states - none of her Decca singles, including Make Up Your Mind, From Midnight Till Dawn and Sweet Willie, lived up to 'Billboard''s prediction. But she appeared regularly throughout the South-East and in 1960 'Country Song Roundup' pictured her with Ronald Reagan at the annual Azalea Festival in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Allen made another five singles for Felsted without noticeable acclaim. Linnell Gentry records that she married one Albert Woodrow Tunnell and cites Peggy Joye Tunnell as her married name. The couple had a daughter and she may have retired to raise a family. Whatever she did, traditional Nashville divadom was not for her.
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