The widow of Jimmy Dean says Richmond’s traditional country music scene is in trouble — and she’s on a mission to revive it.
“I think when karaoke came in, it destroyed the quality of entertainment and the live music scene,” she says. “And the economy had a lot to do with it.”
While her aging, deaf poodle Pepper looks on, Donna Meade Dean-Stevens reflects on changes in the industry from the main house of her sprawling compound at Chaffin’s Bluff on the outskirts of town. Her late husband, country star and sausage king Jimmy Dean, is buried outside in a granite, piano-shaped mausoleum facing the river.
“Traditional country music has suffered the worst,” she says. “You see new country artists but not the traditional of the ’70s and ’80s anymore. There is still a large audience for it.”
It’s been decades since Dean-Stevens was a professional country singer in Nashville, performing weekly at the World Famous Stock-Yard. But the 62-year-old former Mercury/Polygram artist is back onstage with her trusty autoharp. And she wants to bring “wholesome, traditional country music” back to Richmonders.
In February, she relaunched the Old Dominion Barn Dance, . . .
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