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Lorrie Morgan

Lorrie Morgan performs at a George Jones tribute show in 2013 in Nashville. She will perform a selection of Christmas music and hits this weekend in Marion.

Christmas cheer is going to be distributed in Southern Illinois this year by a country music star that has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1984.

It was 34 years ago when Lorrie Morgan was invited to be part of the Opry family. At the time, she was the youngest person ever to become part of the elite club. Although the 29-year-old had not had a hit record, the folks calling the shots must have recognized her enormous potential.

In 1988, she finally broke out with major hit “Trainwreck of Emotion” and never looked back.

Morgan’s illustrious career has generated 14 singles that have cracked the elusive Billboard Top 10. She reached the No. 1 position with “Five Minutes,” “What Part of No” and “I Didn’t Know my Own Strength.”

In 2011, Morgan recorded the album “An Old Fashioned Christmas,” which led to her name being associated with seasonal tunes by Nashville executives, who then challenged her to create a complete Christmas concert package.

The “Enchanted Christmas” show debuted in the Tennessee Ballroom of the Gaylord Opryland Resort in 2012 and has become a mandatory part of her annual tour schedule.

Morgan will present the newest version of her timeless “Enchanted Christmas” program at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Marion Cultural & Civic Center. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Ticket prices are $79 for VIP pit, $59 platinum for the first four rows, $49 premium for rows 5-10, $41 for the remainder of the main floor and $29 for balcony.

For more information, contact the Civic Center box office at 618-997-4030.

“To be able to bring the wonderful music of Christmas to audiences around the country is a dream come true,” says the 59-year-old singer. “This is my favorite time of year. I get to think about my children growing up and reminisce my life with my family. I wish all year could be Christmastime.”

The event is sponsored by Midwest Music Supply. Company owner Chris Parton is also the show’s promoter. He has seen a set list for the concert and says Morgan will sing predominately Christmas tunes, but the agenda also includes a few of her major hits.

Morgan says designing the Christmas gala is hard work.

“It’s stressful, like planning a wedding. You worry, then at the last minute everything falls together and something beautiful is created,” she says. “I want the audience to feel like they are in my living room listening to stories about why I’ve picked out these songs.”

In 2012, Morgan released original Christmas tune “Wrapped Up in Love.” She calls the single “upbeat, flirtatious and fun.”

Morgan released her first Christmas album, “Merry Christmas from London.” in 1993. It included holiday standards like “My Favorite Things,” “O Holy Night” and “Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” The highlight of the album was “A Christmas Festival,” a medley of tunes “Jingle Bells,” “Silent Night,” “The First Noel” and others that she sang with country music queen Tammy Wynette.

A true Nashville native, Morgan is the daughter of the late George Morgan, the voice behind classic “Candy Kisses.” She has two children, Morgan Anastasia, from her marriage to Ron Gaddis, a bass player/vocalist for George Jones, and Jessie Keith, from her marriage to Keith Whitley.

Whitley was a rocketing superstar when he died of an alcohol poisoning in 1989. She also has been married to singers Sammy Kershaw and Jon Randall. Since 2010, she has been wed to Nashville businessman Randy White.

Morgan’s massive body of work includes 38 singles, 12 studio albums and seven compilation projects. Her last album, a duet with Pam Tillis titled “Come See Me and Come Lonely,” was released November 2017. The 12 cuts include four solo efforts each by Tillis and Morgan, and four duets by the close personal friends.

Being the daughter of a famous singer allowed her to appear on the Opry stage at 13, but the rest of her career has been hard work, paying grueling dues in virtual obscurity for over a decade. Her low-profile jobs included working as a receptionist and performing in a bluegrass band.

Joe Diffie to perform in Marion in February

A hit-making machine throughout 1990s, Joe Diffie will be appearing at the Marion Cultural & Center on at 7 p.m. on Feb. 8. The concert was just announced and tickets go on sale at 8 a.m Friday.

Diffie is best known for songs like “Prop Me Up Beside Tte Jukebox (If I Die),” “Pickup Man,” “Home,” “John Deere Green” and “If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets).”

The traditional country singer has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1993.

Ticket prices range from $19 to $58.

The concert is being presented by Clay Campbell and the Kentucky Opry.

For more information, contact the Civic Center at 618-997-4030.

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VINCE HOFFARD can be reached at vincehoffard@gmail.com or 618-658-9095.

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