When Donna Frost was just a child she met Skeeter Davis. She tells me about when she met Skeeter, how it came to be that she sang at Skeeter’s funeral, and how she was invited to perform, “End of the World,” at Skeeter’s induction into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.
Q So tell me about the first time you met Skeeter?
A It was when The End of the World was becoming a huge hit and this was about fifty years ago. Of course the song is having its 50th Anniversary.
Q Is that the song that goes, “Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?”
A That’s the one, that’s the one.
Q Oh my God, I love that song.
A That was Skeeter and it became the big hit in 1963 and that was Skeeter Davis and she was recording for RCA and my Aunt Mary Lynch Jarvis worked there for Chet Atkins at the time as his secretary so she and Skeeter were friends and hanging out then and I absolutely fell in love with Skeeter Davis and her music. As a little girl I would sit in my parents living room with my phonograph player and sing along with these records and go see her play and she would come to our house and to my grandmothers house and we hung out with her during my childhood. I would always talk about how my big dream was to sing with her when I grew up.
So this was something that began many many many years ago. Then in 1996 when she was diagnosed with the bone cancer that claimed her life in 2004, she had called me in 1996 and said Donna, it is time that we do this. Let’s sing together. We have talked about it through the years and had done a thing or two together but we got serious about me coming and singing with her and I went to Saint Lucia with her on my very first trip. She was very popular in the Caribbean and we performed in Barbados, then NY, Miami and some cities around this area, and the Grand Ole Opry. So I sang backgrounds with her from 1996 until she had stopped performing a year or two before she passed away in 2004. So this was like a childhood dream come true and many years of friendship and love and idolizing her. I modeled my dress after her even since I was a teenager as she was always a bit funky. She was very cool. I always thought Skeeter Davis was one of the coolest people I had ever met and I just wanted to be like her you know?
Q All right and so last month they inducted her into the Kentucky Country Music Hall of Fame?
A Right, they had inducted her in this years class and I had bought my ticket to go because I wanted to be there. Then I got a call a couple of weeks before the show from Robert Lofton from the Hall of Fame and someone had told him about my relationship with Skeeter, about how many years we had been friends, that I had sung with her and the whole story like I just shared with you. They thought it would be most appropriate if I was the one to perform The End of the World at her induction because as all of the artists are inducted, they perform a musical selection and if they have passed away they have someone that performs in their stead of a song that they are well known by. So I was the one that was invited to perform The End of the World.
It was really overwhelming to me to be selected and I was with her family and some of her close friends that night at the ceremony and in the same class she had Exile, Kentucky Headhunters, and there were people like Steve Warnier who was there in the audience. It was very mind blowing to be involved in that with all those big stars. I had a wonderful band that played with me and when they were getting ready to induct Skeeter they had played a video montage of her with her biography and pictures and all and I was just about to lose it and I thought boy, what am I going to do? So then her nephew had accepted the award for her and then I performed so I sang the song and I really truly felt her presence with me. I swore I could hear her voice coming through with mine. It was very emotional and I just about cried when I sang the song but I got through it.
Everyone was so kind about the job I did with the song and then they were telling me what that song meant to them and what Skeeter meant to them. I got to share my story with them too so it really was a wonderful night to remember her and just hear stories from everybody else too and share my story with people.
Q Right and earlier you were talking to me about how that night actually brought you full circle with her?
A It really did because also you know we talked about the beginning when I met her and of course I sang with her until she passed away and then at her funeral at the Ryman I was a pallbearer. I was just sitting there waiting for the funeral to start when Jeannie Pruett and Jeannie Sealy came up to me and said you’re coming with us. I said what do you mean and they said that Skeeter had requested in her funereal arrangements that I sing with the Grand Ladies at the funeral service so I was with Connie Smith and Amy Grant and Martina McBride and Jean Sheppard and Jeannie Sealy and Lorrie Morgan and Jean Pruett and all of them. Jeannie Pruett told them, Donna sang with Skeeter and she’s going to be one of us today and when that happened all the ladies gathered around me and hugged me. It was a big circle and it was just incredible. So I was asked to sing at her funeral and then I got to sing at her induction so I truly have come full circle. This has been a real interesting journey from the time I first heard The End of the World and when I first met her when I was a little girl, then to have the honor to sing at her induction at the Hall of Fame and to represent her. I wore one of her jackets because after she passed I ended up with some of her stage clothes and so I thought it only appropriate that I wear one of her jackets on stage so I had her with me.
A It was an amazing night and it was just the biggest honor and I would say in all the years I have played music and all the things I have done, this was the biggest honor of my career and one of the most important nights of my life to be able to do this and be a part of this special time. I am so thrilled that she finally got some recognition that she deserved by being inducted into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and to be asked by them to represent her and sing the song was such an honor.
A It was a tremendous thrill.
Q All right, you gave me so much to work with. Do you have photos for that night?
A Yeah, I will send you some pictures.
With that we talked about logistics of sending the photos and which video I will attach to this article and we said our goodbyes and promised we would see each other soon. Thank you so much Donna for sharing your wonderful story with us. You have done Skeeter proud and she is your very special guardian angel watching out over you every single day.
Check out Donna Frost at: http://www.donnafrost.com/
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