First Posted: 5/24/2009
From gold and platinum album singer to book author and T.V. show appearances, Donna Fargo has done it all.
Now, she said, one of the pinnacles of her career has come about in having a road in her hometown named after her.
Fargo, a Surry County native, became a country music star 1972 when a song she wrote called Happiest Girl In The Whole U.S.A began playing constantly on country, pop, and easy listening radio.
A section of N.C. 103 from Mount Airy north for 5.8 miles in Surry County will be dedicated as the Donna Fargo Highway this fall. An effort to name the highway after Fargo began in February after the Surry County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution to ask the Department of Transportation to consider naming the highway after the country music singer.
From there, the resolution went to Mount Airy officials who also approved a resolution that was sent on to the DOT, which gave its approval on May 7.
Ann Vaughn, executive director of the Gilmer-Smith Foundation, and a friend of Fargos, is working toward finalizing a date for the highway dedication ceremony.
We wanted to make sure it was officially approved by the DOT before we started working on a date. We are working on coordinating the highway dedication with the moving of the Donna Fargo collection that is presently at the Dr. Robert Smith down to the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, Vaughn said.
In a telephone interview Friday, Fargo said the highway dedication means the world to her.
Im just really honored that my hometown would honor me in this way. Its pretty cool, Fargo said. She resides in Nashville, Tenn. and has been back to Mount Airy a few times in years past. She came back in 2003 to dedicate the Donna Fargo collection at the Robert Smith house and again a few years ago for a book signing at the Main Oak Emporium.
I just cant wait to be there and I hope everybody in the world will show up, Fargo said.
She said she is hoping that there will be a procession from the Virginia line into Mount Airy down N.C. 103.
Between the Virginia line and Mount Airy is where all my family ever lived. Toward the Virginia line from where my homeplace is, I went to church at Slate Mountain Baptist Church. I used to sing in church there when I was a little girl, Fargo said.
She said that she has fond memories of attending Flat Rock Elementary school and Mount Airy High School. She also remembers working at the Ellis clothing company, she said it was Mamie Taylors store at the time.
I never took home a paycheck because I was always buying clothes, she said.
Fargo said she appreciates all of the people who worked to get the highway dedicated in her name.
I really appreciate Mayor (Jack) Loftis, (Rep.) Sarah Stevens, Richard Vaughn and Ann Vaughn and all of those nice people who had a part in this, Fargo said. She also mentioned local radio DJ Debbie Cochran and radio station owner Kelly Epperson for their help in getting the highway named.
Its going to be exciting, Fargo said.
Fargo said she is going to give the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History the dress she wore when she won a County Music Award.
Its in great shape and Bill Belew designed it. Hes the guy who designed the red fancy outfit that is now in the Robert Smith house. He was Elvis designer, Fargo said.
She is also going to donate the Broadcast Music Inc. dress she wore when she accepted the Robert J. Burton award for the most played song.
She is also donating a white gown she wore when she won her Grammy award.
Im also going to give them the outfit I wore when I received the six Academy of Music awards for top female vocalist, single album song artist, composer and publisher, Fargo said.
She said she will be giving the museum some of the awards, but, she said, she hasnt yet determined which ones.
In addition to inviting DOT officials, Vaughn said she is hoping the governor will attend the dedication ceremony.
I know there are a lot of fans of Donnas out there that are going to want to know about this, and to know about it in time to make reservations to be here. It should be a grand event, one that Surry County, the city of Mount Airy, Donna Fargo and the museum will be proud of, Vaughn said.
She said she is hoping to have the ceremony take place in the courtyard of the museum and spill out into the streets.
It will be a major happening downtown that will be good for everyone concerned. It will be a win-win situation for our town, and for the entire region, Vaughn said.
Fargos first hit single was followed by the equally popular Funny Face. Both songs reached gold and platinum status in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and Donna became the first woman in country music history to have back-to-back million-selling singles. These two singles were from the album The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A, which stayed on the national Billboard charts and other trade charting lists for one year.
Because of consistent radio air play of these records and follow-up hits, such as Superman, You Were Always There, Dont Be Angry, and U.S.of A., and because of television appearances and extensive press coverage as a result of her record success, her name is familiar to radio listeners, television viewers, and everyone interested in entertainers since the early 1970s.
Her awards illustrate the longevity of Donna’s airplay and some of her national popularity and recognition as a result of her record sales.
Her performance on a show at Carnegie Hall interested the Osmond family enough to produce the syndicated television variety show, The Donna Fargo Show, which further exposed her name, personality and talent to television viewers during 1978 and 1979. Soon afterwards she became one of the few women ever to release a recitation record (That Was Yesterday) and see it hit #1 on radio charts.
In addition to her musical talents, Fargo has a book out called Trust In Yourself, a collection of her thoughts in prose and poetry about listening to your heart and becoming the person you want to be.
Her inspirational thoughts are now also available on greeting cards in The Donna Fargo Collection through the Blue Mountain Arts Poets and Artists series. She has just finished another book, planned for release soon.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.