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NASHVILLE CATS: A SALUTE TO MILLIE KIRKHAM

September 28, 2012

High soprano Millie Kirkham has contributed angelic vocals to a number of hit recordings by country, pop, and rock & roll artists. Among them are Rosemary Clooney, Perry Como, Jerry Lee Lewis, Loretta Lynn, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, and Charley Pride.

Born May 28, 1927, in Sydney, Australia, Walker grew up in a musical home. His mother sang and his father played harmonica. By the time he was five, Walker could play the family piano. After earning his degree, Walker took a job with RCA Records at its office in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he arranged cover versions of songs that had already become popular in America.

Walker came to Nashville in 1964, to work with Jim Reeves. When Reeves died in a plane crash, Eddy Arnold enlisted Walker’s services, and the two worked together through 1968. The next year, Walker joined The Johnny Cash Show as musical director, and at the end of every show Cash would say to him, “Goodnight, Bill Walker!” The work began pouring in.

After Cash’s show ended, Walker worked as an independent producer for Capitol Records, masterminding sessions for Roy Rogers, Billy Walker, Ferlin Husky and Wanda Jackson, among others.

During this time Walker began working with Donna Fargo. Walker’s productions of “The Happiest Girl in the Whole U. S. A.” and “Funny Face” both took Fargo to #1 and launched her career.

Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, Walker concentrated on writing, arranging and conducting music for network and syndicated television. Among his many credits are 15 CMA awards shows, The Statler Brothers Show, and many specials.

As a record producer, arranger and conductor, he earned gold records for Eddy Arnold’s “Make the World Go Away,” Bobby Vinton’s “Roses Are Red,” Roy Clark’s “Come Live With Me,” Jim Reeves’ “From a Jack to a King,” Marty Robbins’ “My Woman, My Woman, My Wife,” Cash’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” and many more.

Walker continues to record. He and wife Jeanine have made four gospel albums and they perform at venues large and small around the world.

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