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Sandy Kelly

( Patsy Cline in "Patsy Cline The Musical" )
Interviewed at the Palace Theatre, Manchester. 16\5\94

Ray Grundy
Sandy Kelly


  Sandy, can you first of all tell us what part of Ireland you're from?
  I'm from Sligo on the west coast of Ireland.
  I believe you made you're first stage appearance when you were just three years old?
  Yes, my family were in showbusiness and it was just the done thing that once you could walk you earned you're living. So seven nights a week I used to go on stage and sing and tap dance or whatever was called for, and it was nice to entertain people and get so much attention at that age.
  You represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest, can you tell us about that?
  I represented Ireland when I used to be in a pop band called "The Duskey's",(I used to be a pop singer but I'm alright now - laughter ). That was in 1982. We didn't win, we came 10th I think, but we had a ball, it was great. And just after that I abandoned a pop career and went into country music full time.
  In 1989 you recorded a duet with Johnny Cash. How did that come about? 
  Well just before I recorded that, I reluctantly recorded "Crazy". I didn't really want to record that because at the time I was doing Country Rock and original material, and I felt that "Crazy" belonged very much to Patsy Cline. But to tell you the truth there weren't many people asking me to record anything at that time so I decided to do it, and it went to No1 in the charts and became the biggest selling record of 1989 in Ireland.

Now at that time Johnny Cash was touring in Ireland and he heard the record on the radio. I was doing an interview at the  radio station when I was called to the phone, and a voice said, "Hi I'm Johnny Cash". And I said, yeah and I'm Dolly Parton ( laughter ) 'cause I thought it was somebody kidding me.

Anyway he invited me to the show and during his performance he invited me up to sing, which is rare as Johnny Cash doesn't usually do that sort of thing.  Then later that night he invited me and my family to Nashville.

About a month later we went to Nashville and stayed at his home, and about 2 month after that I recorded "Woodcarver" with him, and it became my 2nd Gold Record. Following that I toured extensively in the states and became an overnight success after 15 years.
 

  Where did the idea come from for Patsy Cline The Musical?
  After the success of  Crazy, I was asked to do a one woman show in Ireland on the life of Patsy Cline. So I went over to the states and met up with Patsy's husband (who has now become a very good friend), and I researched her life through  family and friends. I then came back to Ireland and did the show. 

Anyway Mervin Conn heard about our show and there was talk of doing some sort of tribute here in England, but nothing materialized and I went on to do my TV series and other things over in Ireland. Then about 2 years ago Mervin approached me again and asked me to be involved in this musical,  a new concept. And I was thrilled, because it's a whole different thing and an acting role against what I did before, were I just narrated the story and sang the songs.

So we started the show on a 13 week run which was extended to 37 weeks, and we have now just been asked to go to the West End with it. So I could very well be playing Patsy Cline's mother by the end of the run.
It's just been hugely successful.

 

  You say you were thrilled to be asked to be involved, but how did you really feel about having to pretend to be someone other than Sandy Kelly?
  I had mixed emotions. I was thrilled about the acting side of it, because it was a new challenge, I love challenges because I get bored very easily, but I was also afraid of getting pigeonholed in the music sense, because I thought people might think I'm an impersonator. But I'm a country singer and there has to be life after Patsy Cline for Sandy Kelly. 

But they've allowed me to sing the songs my way, I sing them my way with some of  Patsy's little mannerism's like the yodelling, but Sandy Kelly is there all the time, it's not an impersonation of her vocally, and that keeps me happy.

Hopefully people will leave after the show remembering ME,and it will get me known over here. And  George Hamilton IV insisted that I do it as he said it was the right thing to do, and I trusted his opinion, and now I find myself thanking him all the time because it's been so successful.

I'm a realist and although I have had lots of success in Ireland  and also to a smaller degree in the U.S, if you advertised Sandy Kelly in concert over here, nobody would turn up except maybe 3 people in the front row and my aunts and uncles. So it's a powerful vehicle for me.
 

  Sandy, thank you for taking the time to talk to me, and may I wish you all the best for your continued success over here.
  Thank you Ray.


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