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Leona Williams may be a Missouri native, but her career in country music has reached heights few entertainers – Show-Me-Staters or otherwise – achieve.
Williams will be in Ray County Saturday to perform matinee and evening shows at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. She and her son, Ron Williams, are on the bill at Leland Jones’ Country Pickin’ Opry, as is Leland Jones and his house band.
Leona Williams is widely known for having been married to and singing duets with “The Hag,” legendary singer Merle Haggard.
Early in their association, Williams and Haggard recorded a top-10 duet called “The Bull and the Beaver,” as well as an album of duets called “Heart to Heart.” Williams wrote some of Haggard’s biggest hits of that period, including “You Take Me For Granted” and “Someday When Things Are Good.”
She also sings harmony on his well-known songs “The Way I Am,” “The Roots Of My Raising” and “Big City.”
Williams later wrote and recorded songs, both as the featured performer and harmony singer, for stars like Vince Gill and Gene Watson.
She has – and still – tours internationally and has been a regular in recent years in Branson.
Williams had her first radio show in Jefferson City at 15, then moved to Nashville in the late 1960s from Vienna, a small town in Missouri.
She had a number of her own hit records, including “Once More” and “Yes Ma’am, He Found Me in a Honky Tonk” on the Hickory Records label. She’s appeared at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville many times.
and sang a featured duet with George Jones called “Best Friends” on the late Jones’s “For the Ladies” album.
In 2009, Williams released a duets album that featured such artists as George Jones, Haggard, Johnny Bush, Frankie Miller, Floyd Tillman, Ferlin Husky and others.
She’s had her songs recorded by Jones, Moe Bandy, Randy Travis, Hank Thompson, The Forester Sisters, Tammy Wynette, Gene Watson, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Ray Price, Johnny Bush, Willie Nelson, Connie Smith and many others.
She’s been inducted into county music halls of fame in both Missouri and Texas.
Her son Ron, also on Saturday’s bill, grew up around country music and lists his influences as Marty Robbins, Glen Campbell, Haggard, Larry Gatlin, John Conlee, Lefty Frizzell and others.
He’s a regular on country music TV shows and, like his mother, has performed at the historic Ryman Theater and toured Europe.
Tickets for Saturday’s shows are $15. Information is available at 816-470-2701.