January 13, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Sylvia

Here we are at episode 10 of Season Two of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...guest starring Sylvia. Ray opens the show performing his rendition of "Love Potion Number Nine". The opening fits a pattern in Ray's choice of songs throughout the episode. In introducing Sylvia he remarks that she, like so many country music artists, was so poor...she was so poor her family couldn't afford a last name.

She speaks of her upbringing in Kokomo, Indiana and her move to Nashville. She recalled how she filled her time with odd jobs around Nashville such singing demo recordings and typing lyrics into publisher databases...and Ray makes mention of her being a model. She laughs about her experience and insists that she was probably a model for one photo session or two. Ray brings up a recording, "You're My Jamaica", which his brother, John, recorded a year or two before Charley Pride. The reason for Ray bringing it up, I imagine, is perhaps Sylvia appeared on a picture sleeve promoting the single? I hadn't found an image of a picture sleeve but I found an image of the single. It happened to have been released in 1978 on the Monument label.

Sylvia performs an almost acoustic version of her biggest hit, "Nobody". The lead guitar is situated nearby with a microphone aimed at it. Now, to set the record straight, Sylvia had more than a dozen hit recordings during what music critics call the Pop-Country or Urban Cowboy era in country music. The period of time stretching from 1979 to around 1985 nationally although country radio, in general, was attempting to shift attention back to a more traditional sound as early as 1982 but the format's popularity among non-country music listeners was more or less too difficult to give up economically. The entire point of my bringing all this up is because there's this nagging perception that Sylvia was a one hit wonder when in reality she had numerous hit songs: "Tumbleweed", "The Matador", "Drifter", "Cry Just a Little Bit", "Snapshot", and several more. Although not brought up Sylvia was on the RCA label during the same time as Ray (early '80s).

Ray plays the video clip of the two of them performing the sketch, Making Cookies. The sketch became part of a 1992 home video called The Amazing Rolling Revue which was meant to be a pilot for a television series. The concept of the show centered around a mobile venue that traveled across the country courtesy of a tour bus driven by Darrell Waltrip. The sketches that appeared on the home video had been shot in the late '80s and early '90s. She speaks of her upcoming album and mentions it's her first studio album in 12 or 13 years. The title of the album is It's All in the Family. She performs "Right Turn". This is followed by the limited animation music video of "The Ballad of Cactus Pete and Lefty". Ray closes the show performing "Jeremiah Peabody's Green and Purple Pills". On the next episode of the series the special guest is Con Hunley.

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