By Michael Williams
In a career that has spanned more than 30 years, Ronnie McDowell has established himself not only as a platinum selling country music star, but as an actor and artist. McDowell met with Dolly Parton this week where he presented her with the original copy of his latest masterpiece, “I will Always Love You.” The painting depicts Parton on a picnic in Sevierville with Elvis Presley as she sings her iconic song.
“She was excited when I gave it to,” said McDowell. “She had always wanted Elvis to record that song, but Colonel Tom Parker (Presley’s manager) wanted to publish it. I have recently signed a deal with Disney to paint several paintings for them. One of them depicts Elvis teaching Mickey Mouse to dance.”
McDowell has recently signed a deal with A&E TV to begin production on a new TV reality series titled, “The McDowells.” The show will follow the family through their day to day lives from performing to painting and campaigning. McDowell’s nephew is running for mayor of the family’s hometown in Portland, Tenn.
McDowell will be performing at Country Tonite on August 22 with country music star Billy Joe Royal. McDowell first spring boarded to fame with his tribute to Presley with the song, “The King is Gone,” which was recorded shortly after Presley died. The song was McDowell’s first recording and got his career off to a booming start with more than five million copies sold. McDowell went on to record other top ten hits, such as “Older Women,” “Watching Girls Go By” and “You’re Gonna Ruin My Bad Reputation.”
McDowell sang thirty-six songs on the soundtrack, “Elvis,” the Dick Clark-produced television movie which featured Kurt Russell as the performer. He also provided the singing voice of the soundtracks for the Priscilla Presley TV biopic “Elvis and Me”, an ABC series about the early years of Presley’s career, “Elvis,” and the 1997 Showtime special, “Elvis Meets Nixon.”
Billy Joe Royal first emerged on the music scene in 1965 with his hit single “Down in the Boondocks.” Royal soon followed up the success with “I Knew You When,” “Hush” and “Cherry Hill Park.” His success continued into the 1980s when Royal scored a successful comeback with several Top 10 country hits, including “Tell It Like It Is,” “Burned Like a Rocket,” and “I’ll Pin a Note on Your Pillow.”
The two country icons will perform on August 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by calling (800) 792-4308 or (865) 453-2003. Country Tonite is located on the Parkway in Pigeon Forge.