Crystal Gayle sings at Maryland Theatre

December 05, 1996


Staff Writer

Hagerstown resident Barry Cohen and his wife bought tickets six months ago for his first chance to see Crystal Gayle live.

Wednesday night's show at the Maryland Theatre was well worth the wait, he said.

"I was pleasantly surprised with the music of the saxophonist. It was just excellent," said Cohen, a longtime fan of the country music star. "She's got a fantastic backup. It really makes the show."

Gayle, who burst onto the music scene as "Most Promising Female Vocalist" in 1976, delighted about 600 people with songs from her new album "A Crystal Christmas" and "Someday," which was nominated for a Grammy this year.


Audience members broke into applause as Gayle hit familiar notes of her older hits.

The show's financial performance, however, did not match its musical accomplishment. Patricia Wolford, president of the theater's board of directors, said the theater lost $13,000 on the concert, partly because the theater was roughly half filled for the show. That more than wipes out the $7,000 it made from "Jesus Christ Superstar" the night before.

"It breaks my heart," she said. "It's really hard to take."

Wolford said the theater should recover some of that money tonight when Steve Green performs to a sold-out house.

Although a financial disappointment, audience members said Gayle was a musical success.

The country star kicked off the singing with a rendition of "Winter Wonderland" and then alternated between new songs and hits from a career that has generated a Grammy, two Platinum and four Gold albums and numerous other honors.

"This is kind of special because its Christmas," said Hagerstown resident Jim Wagner, who saw Gayle the last time she was in town. "I think her voice is unique - great pitch, great delivery. And, of course, she's a beautiful woman. She has beautiful, long hair."

Hagerstown resident Jenny Smith was at the show with her best friend, Shirley Mills, as an early Christmas present from Smith's husband. Mills, who lives in Clear Spring, recalled the first time she saw Gayle live. It was an outdoor concert and the star was introduced only as Loretta Lynn's little sister, she said.

"We have tapes of her that we play," Mills said. "We can't play them around our kids."

"Probably because we sing along," Smith added.

Wednesday's show drew many longtime fans, but also some who saw her for the first time. Karen Riddle, who lives in East Berlin, Pa., attended only because she won tickets from a Hanover, Pa. radio station.

Riddle said she was impressed with the show, and also with the theater.

"I've never been here before," she said. "They really have a nice place here."

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