Annette Bailey, formerly of Vilonia, has been known as an accomplished singer for many years. She is now being referred to as more of a star.
Bailey recently released a Christmas album and she had a bit of help from a well-known Nashville singer. Country singer Larry Gatlin joined her on it in recording the Ella Fitzgerald classic, "What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?"
"Wow, that’s big time," Bailey said of singing with Gatlin.
She became acquainted with Gatlin as a result of a medical procedure performed on his back at the North American Spine in Dallas. Now, she is president of the Dallas-based Larry Gatlin Foundation for the Spine, which raises funds for research, development and education concerning disease and injury of the spine, and she said they have become "great friends."
While she has four solo and two other trio albums under her belt, the Christmas album was a gift to her grandchildren.
"I really did this for my kids and grandkids," Bailey said, referring to her three sons Benjamin, Joseph and Andrew and two granddaughters.
Bailey was born and raised in Memphis, and she has been singing in church since she was 14.
She is, thus, probably best-known for her religious songs and several performances can be accessed through YouTube. Those who know her said she has perfected a style and a stage presence and a sort of intimacy with her fans that keeps them stuck like glue.
Although she isn’t a Vilonian by birth, she said she became one when she married her husband Sam, a 1974 Vilonia graduate. Although they are currently living in Mountain Home, he said, his family came to Vilonia in the 1920s and has more than a 100-year history in Faulkner County.
"The ones who don’t know the Baileys know the Weavers," he said, adding that he is related to both. "They are still there. Vilonia is the center of the universe as far as I’m concerned. Once an Eagle, always an Eagle."
The couple met at First Baptist Church in Vilonia, where she was a guest singer. They married in 1974, just out of high school. As a couple, they also served as youth pastors for several years. Living elsewhere, now, Sam Bailey said, doesn’t make them any less fans of the Eagles. On that note, he said his mother Barbara Bailey actually wrote the Eagle fight song.
The album may be purchased at Harps in Vilonia as well as stores throughout Arkansas and electronically at iTunes and Amazon.com. For information, go to www.AnnetteBailey.net.