LEWISTON — Betty Cody, at age 90, is still too young to retire.
About a year ago, the legendary RCA recording artist and mother of late guitar great Lenny Breau and guitarist/songwriter Denny Breau, appeared in a mostly annual family show. She said that would probably be the last show she would attempt, but here the classic country-western singer comes again.
Cody will be featured in the newest edition of The Denny Breau Family Show, along with her sons, sister and niece, and the aunts, uncles and cousins of the extraordinarily musically talented Breau clan.
The performance will be at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 27, at the Ramada Conference Center, 490 Pleasant St.
“I’ve been singing since I was 3 years old,” Cody said a few days ago as she eagerly planned for Sunday’s performance. That first song was the Canadian national anthem, she said, recalling her father’s fiddle playing and her mother’s singing.
Cody and her husband, popular country-western singer Harold (Hal Lone Pine) Breau, passed on the family's rich musical heritage to their sons — Lenny, who earned an international reputation as one of the best jazz guitarists; and Denny, also an acclaimed guitarist/singer-songwriter who carries on the organization and presentation of the traditional family show.
Also featured in the May 27 show will be Flo Hooper, who is Cody’s sister and widow of longtime country music personality “Genial” Gene Hooper, as well as Flo and Gene’s daughter, Sharlene Hooper.
Dick Breau, brother of Denny and Lenny, will also share in the family memories and music. Bob Breau, another brother and vocalist/songwriter, is not able to participate in this year’s gathering.
Denny said the May 27 show will feature a full band consisting of well-known country-western musicians. He will perform some of his songs and will introduce a couple of new ones, including a song about a new granddaughter.
As Cody talked about the upcoming show, her love of performing for longtime fans was obvious. She ran through a long list of tunes from her past that she hopes to include, and she emphasized that she will be showcasing her yodeling skills, which she calls “my trademark.”
“I’m also going to do some ‘answer songs’,” Cody said, explaining that hit recordings by country-western stars often resulted in new versions that answered the lyrics.
“Webb Pierce had a song called 'There Stands the Glass' and I’ll sing 'Throw Away the Glass,'” she said. “Eddy Arnold did “I Really Don’t Want To Know” and my answer song will be “I Really Want You To Know.'”
Cody's enthusiasm for performing was evident as she talked about taking the stage once again Sunday afternoon. “When I get up there with Denny, I never know what’s going to happen,” she said.
“I usually end a show with a spiritual and we will do 'One Day at a Time' for this one," she added.
Cody was born Rita Cote in Quebec. One of 11 children, her family moved to Auburn and she learned music from Catholic school nuns, with whom she sang in French until she was about 14 years old.
Her first radio appearance was on Lewiston station WCOU at age 15. As her recording fame grew, she toured with Kitty Wells, Hank Snow and Chet Atkins. Colonel Tom Parker, who would become Elvis Presley’s manager, approached her with a management deal, but she chose to return to Lewiston to work in a factory and be with family.
Tickets for the show, with full bar available, are $17 at Musicians 1st Choice, 245 Western Ave., Augusta (623-0400); Main Street Music Lessons, 134 Main St., Auburn (376-3376); and Creative Media/Tucker’s Music Pub, 290 Main St., Norway (739-2200). Tickets will also be available at the door. For more information, call 577-397.