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Ava Barber to be in Kingston

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Ava Barber, a featured performer on “The Lawrence Welk Show,” will be the guest performer next week during the meeting of Kingston First Baptist Church’s Young at Heart.

The meeting will begin at 10:30 a.m. April 1 in the church’s family life center at 215 N. Kentucky St.

The program is open to the public. Those attending are asked to bring a covered dish or dessert for the meal afterward.

Born and raised in Knoxville, Barber was featured on television’s “The Lawrence Welk Show” from 1974-82.

A professional singer since age 10, Barber became a part of the nationally watched syndicated show after sending demos and records to Welk at the behest of her mother.

She and her husband, drummer Roger Sullivan, met Welk on the grounds of a Nashville golf course for Barber’s audition, which garnered her a spot on the series.

Barber also pursued her recording career. She experienced success with “Waitin’ at the End of Your Run” and “Bucket to the South,” the latter of which charted on Billboard’s top 15 in the U.S. and Canada.

She and Sullivan moved back to Knoxville in 1982, when tapings of Welk’s show ended. They formed a country band and toured before going into partnership with Dick Dale in 1990 to open the Rainbow Theater in Pigeon Forge.

Six years, later, she worked at the Welk Theatre in Branson, Mo.

Barber continues to tour with “The Live Lawrence Welk Show Tour.” She also appears in monthly shows with the “Big South Fork Opry,” which has featured East Tennessee favorite Marshal Andy and Georgette Jones, daughter of country music legends George Jones and the late Tammy Wynette.

With roots in country music, Barber has appeared twice on the Grand Ole Opry. Her newest project, “The Royal Ladies of Country Music,” pays homage to those roots.

Her music stays true to her strong Christian beliefs. She sings her praises to Jesus Christ in her “All Time Gospel Favorites” album with 18 inspirational favorites, including “The Old Rugged Cross” and “The Unclouded Day.”

She’s also appeared on many television shows, including “Nashville Now,” “Music City Tonight” and “Crook & Chase.”