SESSER — A former Female Vocalist of the Year for the Academy of Country Music, as well as the voice that Priscilla Presley couldn't distinguish from “The King” himself, will headline the upcoming Rend Lake Days in Sesser.
Sylvia, the 60-year-old pride of Kokomo, Indiana, won the prestigious ACM honor after hitting the top of the charts with “Drifter” and cross-over smash “Nobody.” She will perform two shows, starting at 8 p.m. on June 16.
Using the full stage name Sylvia Hutton nowadays, she grew up singing in church and idolizing Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton. Her first job in Nashville was as a secretary for producer Tom Collins. Her biggest break may have been failing an audition for Dave & Sugar.
Sylvia would later earn a major label contract with RCA, win a 1979 ACA for Top New Female Vocalist and place 11 singles in the coveted Top 10, including “Snapshot,” “Like Nothing Ever Happened” and “Fallin' In Love.”
Ronnie McDowell, who was born and raised about 45 minutes north of Nashville, rose to fame shortly after the death of Elvis Presley with the release of “The King Is Gone,” a vocal track chillingly similar to the deceased legend. He would later send tunes “Older Women” and “You're Gonna Ruin My Bad Reputation” to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. He will perform two shows on June 17, the first kicking off at 8 p.m.
McDowell, 67, proved he wasn't a one-hit wonder by pummeling the Billboard charts with hits like “Wandering Eyes,” “In A New York Minute,” All Tied Up,” “I Love You, I Love You, I Love You” and “Personally.”
He rubbed shoulders with iconic names in music, dueting with Conway Twitty on “It's Only Make Believe” and Jerry Lee Lewis on “Never Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll.” When Priscilla Presley was screening music for a movie, she thought she was listening to Elvis and it was actually McDowell, leading her to select McDowell to perform all of the movie music.
The annual celebration features four straight nights of free entertainment from the stage in Miners Memorial Park, starting at 7:30 p.m. on June 14 with country and blues from American Lion and stellar bluegrass by Phillip Steinmetz & His Sunny Tennesseans at 7:30 p.m. on June 15.
Now in its 62nd year, past performers at the Sesser Homcoming include Waylon Jennings, Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, Janie Fricke and Earle Thomas Conley. The late Billy Grammer, a Benton native and long-time member of the Grand Ole Opry headlined the festival a record five times.
Patrons are urged to bring lawn chairs for seating. There will be carnival rides all four nights, in addition to food vendors selling barbecue, roasted corn and other items.