Layne comes from a musical family. Her grandfather, father and uncle are all musicians, as are her two brothers and sister, and five of her male cousins.
|"In my family, either you're a musician or, if you're adopted, we'll teach you," Layne said.|
Layne recalled singing in bands most of her life, but she was not rooted in country music, despite coming from Texas.
"My dad is a pianist and saxophone and horn player," Layne said. "His music is standards like Cole Porter and Tony Bennett. That's what I grew up knowing. When I was a kid in junior high and high school, I wanted to sing backup for Aretha Franklin. My grandfather, who died when I was 13, said, 'You need to sing country music.' I thought, 'Yuck!'"
Layne admits she started listening to country music a little in high school, and it gradually grew on her.
Years later a Canadian company developed a touring show called "A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline." The show took a chronological walk through Cline's career. A main character in the show, a fictional disc jockey, was played by a close friend of Layne's father.
Two weeks into the show's run, the star pulled out to pursue a career in Branson. Her father's friend called and suggested Layne try out for the part.
"I sent in a tape, and they hired me," Layne said. "I'd never done anything like that before. I thought it would be fun. Before I was halfway through, bigger theaters purchasing the show for the season asked me if I would stay on. I agreed. It's snowballed from there for the last 17 years."
The enduring appeal of Cline as a country music icon is something Layne has pondered.
"I think it's the combination of perfect songs----the ones that are remembered as being timeless, the musicians, and her producer knowing what to pull out of her," Layne said. "Our voices are similar, in tone and pitch. So when you get a band that will perform songs the way they were originally done, in people's ears, they're hearing what Patsy actually did on the radio.
"We try to emulate her sound as close as we can to the original," Layne continued. "It triggers a memory in the audience's ear. It takes them back. It's a neat feeling seeing it on their faces."
Layne plans to sing some of Cline's biggest songs and standards from the country repertory from the 1960s and 1970s.
"A lot of country music today sounds more like pop," Layne said. "We stick to real country stuff."
Layne also has notoriety for another hit, "All I Want for Christmas is You," the seventh top Christmas song of all time. Back in 1989, Layne was singing with a 1950s and 1960s rock band, Vince Vance and the Valiants. The band's leader and guitarist wrote the song which they rehearsed one day when two of the three female vocalists were shopping. Layne, who usually sang the lower harmony, sang the melody and the writers decided to have her do the lead in the show.
A man in the audience loved the song and made arrangements for a recording to be made in Nashville. No expense was spared in getting the recording made, though Layne was the only band member actually performing on the record. Returning to Dallas, band members gave the record to a local disc jockey.
"He played it, and the phones just lit up," Layne said. "From there on it just snowballed. Now it's up there with 'Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.'"
Layne has been performing in Branson at the God and Country Theater since 2005. She attributed her success to God in how things have come together in her career.
"I'm really looking forward to Saturday," Layne said.
Concessions will begin serving at 5 p.m. The music will start at 6 p.m. and run until around 9 p.m. Donations will be accepted to help pay for new bathrooms on the grounds and maintenance.
The Kings Prairie Community Center is located south of Highway 60, three miles east of Monett, on Highway Z one mile, then west on Farm Road 2015, across from the New Liberty Church.