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Throughout her career, Barbara Fairchild has been an influential singer and songwriter in both country and gospel music.
Barbara Fairchild was born in Lafe (Greene County) on November 12, 1950, to Opal and Ulys Fairchild. She was raised in Knobel (Clay County) until she and her family moved to St. Louis, Missouri, when she was thirteen. Fairchild’s passion for performing began early; she first performed in front of an audience at age five in a school talent show.
Two years after moving to St. Louis, Fairchild released her first single, “Brand New Bed of Roses,” for the Norman label, and it appeared on local television channels. After graduating from high school, Fairchild moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue a career in country music. Within a few months, Fairchild met with Jerry Crutchfield of the MCA label, who was impressed with her songwriting talent. He soon hired her as a writer for MCA and sent her recording of “Love Is a Gentle Thing” to Columbia Records, landing Fairchild a record deal as well as a spot in the top seventy on the country charts. Fairchild then released several somewhat successful singles, as well as three albums: Someone Special (1970), Love’s Old Song (1971), and A Sweeter Love (1972).
Fairchild’s greatest country music achievement was “The Teddy Bear Song” from her third album. This number-one country single and top-forty pop single also garnered Fairchild a Grammy nomination. She later received another Grammy nomination in the Music for Children category with “Lullaby for Teddy.” Between 1972 and 1978, Fairchild released several albums, such as Love Is a Gentle Thing (1974), and charted ten singles, such as “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’” and “Cheatin’ Is.”
After this period, her country career reached something of a plateau, and none of her recordings between 1978 and 1980 achieved top-forty status. She moved to San Antonio, Texas, in an effort to repair her failing marriage with Randy Reinhard and to spend time with her children. The two eventually divorced, and she later married evangelistic singer/songwriter Milton Carroll in 1982. They divorced in 2002, and she later married Roy Morris, a gospel singer/songwriter with whom Fairchild has recorded several albums.
In 1986, Fairchild returned to Nashville in an unsuccessful attempt at making a comeback in country music. It was not until 1989, when she was invited to join the gospel group Heirloom, that she began recording music again. From 1989 onward, Fairchild recorded only gospel music and has had a successful career through solo as well as collaborative albums. In 1990, Heirloom released the album Apples of Gold, which had two successful singles, “Prayin’ up a Storm” and “Suffer the Little Children.”
In 1991, Fairchild released her first solo gospel album, The Light. In 1992, she moved to Branson, Missouri, to perform in The Mel Tillis Show, a stint that lasted two years. She was also a regular on The Jim Stafford Show in 1993. That same year, she started her own show in Branson. She also began a weekly Sunday morning worship service at Music City Centre theater with her husband, in addition to regularly touring the country performing with him.
In 2000, Fairchild embarked on a tour titled “Take America Back,” in which she honored veterans as well as current U.S. troops. She is a spokesperson for Feed the Children, a sponsor for the Foster Grandparents Organization, and a member of Concerned Women of America.
Fairchild has appeared on several television shows, such as The Gene Williams Country TV Show in Branson, Ralph Emery’s Nashville Now on CNN, and Country Music Reunion, hosted by Bill Anderson on RFD-TV. On September 21, 2003, Fairchild was inducted into the George D. Hay Music Hall of Fame, and in September 2010, she was inducted into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame.
For additional information:Barbara Fairchild. http://www.barbarafairchild.com (accessed September 22, 2016).
Finzer, Beth. “Singer Fairchild Sets Out to Take America Back.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Northwest Edition, June 2, 2000, p. 2.
Darby BurdineUniversity of Central Arkansas
Last Updated 9/22/2016
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