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Crazy about Patsy Cline

Patsy Cline tribute artist brings her show to Hagerstown

April 15, 2010|By TIFFANY ARNOLD
  • The audience at Sherrill Douglas' "Crazy 'Bout Patsy" show at The Maryland Theatre on Friday night will see a Patsy Cline impersonator who used to hate the music of Patsy Cline.
Submitted photo,

Although the show is called "Crazy 'Bout Patsy," audience members to Friday night's Maryland Theatre show might be surprised that its lead wasn't crazy at all about Patsy Cline.

Not even a little.

Since donning Cline's signature red lipstick and bouffant more than a decade ago, Sherrill Douglas has more than warmed up to the late country musician.

Cline, a Winchester, Va., native, is credited with setting the standard for female vocalists for decades with songs such as "Crazy" and "I Fall to Pieces." Tragically, Cline's career was cut short; she died at age 30 in a plane crash in 1963.

Cline was inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973.

Touring as an impersonator of the legendary country crooner has proven to be a lucrative gig - taking Douglas to 2,500-seat theaters in New York City and a 5,000-seater in Atlantic City, N.J.

Douglas will head to the downtown Hagerstown venue after a Wednesday night show in Mercersburg, Pa. She said she plans to perform as she imagines Patsy Cline would have, doing a combination of her own personal favorites and known crowd pleasers such as "Crazy."

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"People want you to take them away from their troubles a little bit," Douglas said. "I can make them forget about all that."

Douglas took time between tour stops in the Midwest to chat with The Herald-Mail by phone during a mini-break with family and friends in Champaign, Ill., where she grew up.

As a child growing up in Central Illinois, people listened to the grain report or gospel or country music, Douglas said.

Her mother, Daisy Knott, 79, listened to the grain report and gospel. Dad, the late Raymond Knott, liked Patsy Cline.

The problem was that Douglas liked rock 'n' roll, not country and not Cline.

"My dad was a Patsy Cline fanatic," Douglas said.

So she sang Cline songs to please her father.

But she said it was from singing those songs that she developed an appreciation for Cline and vintage country. That evolved to the formation of a garage band which performed at neighborhood parties, then to singing at weddings, and then to doing the bar circuit, Douglas said.

It's now become her full-time job. She's done other kinds of work - "I've had 300 real jobs," she said, including meat wrapper, bank teller, bartender and bus driver - but music was the only one that worked out.

"I'm terrible as an employee," she said.

Douglas said that 15 years ago, she decided to take things a step further. She is now a celebrity impersonator, having developed Dolly Parton and Stevie Nicks tribute acts.

The world of celebrity impersonating and tribute artistry is competitive, Douglas said. In order to stand out, she said she has to evoke the essence of Cline without coming off as a cheesy impostor. She said she adds a bit of her own personality.

When performing, Douglas said, she tries to match her voice to Cline's, but she takes some artistic licenses with set lists.

Douglas currently lives in Dallas, where she said she's constantly writing music of her own - she likes to slip in a few original tunes during her shows. She said she enjoys listening to Jewel and John Mayer when she's not the one doing the singing.

"I still don't listen to country," Douglas said, "but if I do, it's the classics."




If you go ...



WHAT: "Crazy 'Bout Patsy," a musical tribute to Patsy Cline, starring Sherrill Douglas

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, April 16

WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., Hagerstown

COST: Tickets cost $18 plus processing fees or delivery charges.

CONTACT: Call the theater's box office at 301-790-2000 or go to http://www.mdtheatre.org

MORE: Hear Sherrill Douglas sing at http://www.sherrilldouglas.com .

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