Meet a Granddaughter in Tune with her Musical Roots

Q - I'm excited to be interviewing Betsy Brumley-Bernier. She is the co-owner of I'll Fly Away Productions, part of family-owned Brumley Entertainment and granddaughter of Albert E. Brumley, one of the most famous songwriters of all time. Betsy, I have to admit that when we were both growing up in rural Missouri, I knew about your talented musical family and even heard them at singings; yet I had no concept of the depth of your grandfather's songwriting. When did you realize the magnitude of Albert E. Brumley's legacy?

1) Brumley Family at the Brumley Gospel Sing 1975 Springdale AR.
 l-r Parks Harlan, Albert E Brumley, Mrs. Parks Harlan , Goldie Brumley,
 Betsy Brumley, Tudy Brumley, Elaine Brumley, Bob Brumley
A - Anne, I didn't understand Grandpa's gift until my 30s. The world I grew up in with him and my family was normal for me. I didn't realize what I considered normal was special until I got married and hung out with Kevin's (Bernier) family. Now I am extremely grateful for my family and the legacy Grandpa left behind; and it is my responsibility to keep it alive.

Q - Now your father, Bob Brumley is to be inducted this fall into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame. What an honor. How has his life's work inspired you to stay in the family business? Are some other family members still involved in day to day business?

A - Dad has worked his whole life to preserve Grandpa's work and still owns the company Grandpa started. He really taught me about how to respect people, run a successful business and the love for the music industry. Today, Dad still runs the family business, my sister Elaine is involved with the copyright side and my husband and I own our own business that complements Dad's business with the TV show and the events. We also handle all the PR for Brumley Music.

Q - Now things have expanded far beyond the song library. I see that you're involved in concerts, television production and music-themed cruises. Not just gospel, but bluegrass, is that right? How does it all tie together?

A - Grandpa wrote in the neighborhood of 800 songs. He not only was a well known gospel songwriter, but also a renowned country, bluegrass and folk songwriter as well.  His song "Rank Strangers to Me" is kind of a bluegrass anthem, and "Turn Your Radio On" is a big country song. We are doing these kinds of events to show that he is more than just a gospel writer.

Q - Tell me more about the new dinner show set to open this summer in Northwest Arkansas. What kind of music are you featuring, and is it a sort of variety show?

A - The Bella Vista Old Time Country Dinner Show is the brainchild of my husband, Kevin. We were looking to do something locally to honor the Arkansas roots we have and Kevin just put it together. Dinner and a show all in one. We thought, "what a great evening out."  We will be embracing the bluegrass and country side of our heritage by inviting award winning artists like Little Roy and Lizzy, Ronnie Reno and David Church to play for us. Plus any one from the NW Arkansas area knows Fred's Hickory Inn. Fred's is the place where some of the best Walmart deals were made over Fred's famous BBQ and Italian specialties. Fred's will be doing our dinner catering for us.

Q - Before we wrap up, a little trivia: I'm guessing that I'll Fly Away is the most famous Brumley song ever, isn't it?  Which Brumley song was it that Elvis recorded?

A - "I'll Fly Away" is Grandpa's most famous song. In fact, it has been recorded in every genre, in every country and in every language on the planet. Elvis was a huge gospel music fan and recorded his mother Gladys' favorite song "If We Never Meet Again".

Thanks, Betsy.

Betsy on organic cooking...

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