It’s always nice to see good things happen to great people. My close friend and colleague Donna Blackwood recently received the Diamond Award from SGN Scoops Digital magazine and Coastal Media Group.
To be honest, I have no idea what that means. There’s a lot of letters and words with initials similar to the NAACP, AARP and NCIS (is that really an agency?). It seems like there is an award for everything except children’s sports (where everyone is a winner).
This award recognizes outstanding achievement in southern country, bluegrass and Christian music. This particular Diamond Award is the Publisher’s Choice. I don’t know what it means either, but I do know that Donna deserves it.
She married R.W. Blackwood Jr. and the Blackwood Singers were born. Their biggest decade was the 70s when they had hits like “Put Your Hand In The Hand,” “Turn Your Radio On” and “Everything Is Beautiful.” R.W. and Donna went coast to coast working with people like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, The Statler Brothers, Johnny Cash and The Oak Ridge Boys. Donna had a hit single, “Through It All.” Even Elvis had a strong tie with the Blackwoods.
I’m told publisher Rob Patz was in the audience during the National Quartet Convention a few weeks ago. He was so inspired by Donna’s testimony that he awarded her the Publisher’s Choice Diamond Award.
My wife and I have had the honor of working with the Blackwoods for the past 11 years at the Hatfields & McCoys Dinner Show. In January of 2012 Donna was diagnosed with cancer. Not just a little cancer, but a lot with really serious problems. From the moment she was told the verdict, Donna decided to put it in the hands of her God. She would do what doctors asked and continued to perform the best she could. Even after she was told she wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things, she would find a way.
She had daily treatments of chemo and radiation. I think just about everyone knows somebody who has gone through these treatments and can relate to what’s happening to Donna. The hair falls out and one is constantly sick from radiation burning into the skin.
When Donna came to work, her intent was to do the whole show. Sometimes she made it, sometimes she didn’t. But she always tried. As worn down as she would get, there was always a smile, always a hug. The audience never knew.
It was a tough year, but if one didn’t know what was going on, they would think it was a regular show. I was there. I saw the battle. I saw the strength. I saw the determination. And it was a booster to all of us who had the good fortune of working with her. She made us better. Those of you in the audience from January 12, 2012 through December 28 truly witnessed a miracle.
She went from going to see her God to helping people. To hear her moving testimony, come see her show. If you have cancer or know someone who does, this is something you must see. It’s the inspiring, feel-good show of the Smokies.
I have just made a deal with management. You can get into a $30.00 show for only $15.00 for simply mentioning this column. Call the Smoky Mountain Opry at 865-908-7469 and tell them you read about Donna in the Tennessee Star Journal.