Published on April 7th, 2014 | by TLV News0
Sounds of Stage and Screen To Feature Native Gospel Stars – Ford Center, April 12
Certain vocalists have a way of fusing experience, talent, and passion into compelling art. Mary Donnelly Haskell is one of those performers. Well-known as an actress of considerable depth and emotional range, Haskell expresses those same gifts on her new music project Power of the Cross.
Recorded with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the collection features Haskell’s vocally creative renditions of such time-honored classics as “How Great Thou Art,” “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” and “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” The disc also includes two modern hymns, penned by Keith Getty, “In Christ Alone,” and the inspiring title track, “Power of the Cross.”
Mary joined the children’s choir at her church when she was five. Later she attended the University of Mississippi, where she majored in music and became active in theater. There, she met her husband, Sam Haskell. They moved to Los Angeles where he became the Worldwide Head of Television for The William Morris Agency.
“We were both raised in families with a very strong sense of faith and family, so when we began our lives together out in California, those two components were the rock of our lives together,” Mary says. “You don’t have to forgo your sense of self, faith, and family to be successful and to have productive and wonderful lives in Hollywood. It’s a city [with] a phenomenal community of faith and family.”
In addition to church, charity, and family obligations, Mary has also maintained a successful acting career. She has appeared in over 20 TV movies and has had recurring and guest starring roles on shows such as Sisters, Touched by an Angel, and 7th Heaven.
“I had a stage career for about six to eight years,” she says. “When we had our children, I just found myself not willing to tour or to go on to theater six nights a week and leave my babies. So at that point, I started to look at television as a lot more conducive to being a parent. I could do a guest star appearance on a show, work hard for seven to nine days filming, and then be off for a while. I’ve been really fortunate to work quite a bit.”
Whether breathing new life into a classic hymn or introducing the world to a new standard such as “Power of the Cross,” Mary Donnelly Haskell uses her tremendous vocal talent to celebrate the gift of faith.
“My heart is in a specific place where there is ministry in the music,” she says, citing Ephesians 5:18-19 as the scripture that inspires her: Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord. Haskell says, “This verse in many ways sums up my feelings about the ministry of music. I love how there is no exact definition of, or limitation to, how we ‘make a joyful noise unto the Lord.’ The important thing is that we make one.”
Guy Hovis has one of the more recognizable faces in America. He has been on national television for more than forty years beginning with the Art Linkletter’s House Party Show on CBS in 1967. He has recorded fifteen albums, been nominated as artist and producer of the year by the Gospel Music Association, and is a member of the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame. Hovis is best known for the forty plus years he has been a regular member of the The Lawrence Welk Show.
Born and raised in Tupelo, Mississippi, Guy Lee Hovis, Jr. was singing in church at the age of five and, as he grew older, performed in school musical productions and sang at weddings and for local civic clubs.
After graduating from the University of Mississippi, Guy went to work until a military commitment sent Lt. Hovis off to the Army. He served at Fort Sill, Oklahoma during the Vietnam buildup and also went through paratrooper school at Ft. Benning, Georgia. During his last few months in the Army, Guy entered and won a talent show. Consequently, he was chosen to serve as a performer and officer in charge for a six-week tour of the 4th Army bases. On this tour Guy got a full taste of show business and he liked it!
When his two-year army commitment ended, Guy went back to college for a master’s degree and to study for the CPA exam. One semester later, Guy decided he had to try to break into the music business in Hollywood. There Guy met and befriended another singer, David Blaylock, who eventually would become his singing partner. He was discovered by the producer of the Art Linkletter House Party Show on CBS and he made a dozen appearances on House Party during 1967.
Guy also met another talented singer, Texas native Ralna English, who would become his wife. Ralna was a regular on The Lawrence Welk Show by the late 1960s, and when Guy & David split up, Ralna asked Mr. Welk to let Guy sing a duet with her on the annual Christmas show. Guy and Ralna were an instant hit, Guy was invited to join the Welk musical family and the husband and wife team became the most popular act to appear on The Lawrence Welk Show since the Lennon Sisters.
Although Guy and Ralna continue to perform together, their marriage ended in 1984. Guy moved to Mississippi in 1990 to become the director of state offices for Senator Trent Lott. Now retired from his job with the U.S. Senate, Guy continues to record, participates in The Lawrence Welk Show television specials for PBS, and keeps an active concert schedule – both solo and with Ralna. In 2005 Guy performed “Let The Eagle Soar,” from his One Nation Under God CD, at the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony in Washington, D.C. He was also one of the stars of Mississippi Rising, a nationwide television special that raised millions of dollars for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts in Mississippi.
This article was originally printed in The Local Voice #201 (published April 3, 2014). To download a PDF of this issue, click HERE.