by Monica Hayde
Having grown up the youngest of eight children (including Loretta Lynn) in the Appalachian coal mining town of Paintsville, Kentucky, Crystal Gayle has a certain appreciation for good old-fashioned family values. "It certainly was different when I was growing up," says the long-maned country and gospel singer. Gayle spoke over the telephone from the Robert Mondavi winery in Napa Valley, where she gave a recent concert. "Of course today, many mothers have to work, but too often, there's no one there for the children."
Locally, though, when the family fails, there is the Children's Health Council, which serves an average of 1,500 children and their families each year, providing intervention and prevention programs, a therapeutic day school for troubled children, vocational training for adolescents and a variety of programs for children with severe developmental, emotional and behavioral problems.
Started in 1960 by the late conductor Arthur Fiedler, the CHC's annual Summer Symphony has been held every year at Stanford University's Frost Amphitheatre. The event is a major fund-raiser for the 40-year-old CHC, which makes 30 percent of its revenue from fund raising. This Sunday, July 31, Gayle will be joined by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, conducted by Michael Krajewski, and master of ceremonies Pete Wilson, anchorman at KRON. Gates open at 3 p.m. for picnicking; the concert begins at 5 p.m.
For the first time in Summer Symphony history, children's tickets will be available for $10 each.
Speaking of children, Gayle has a couple of her own, Catherine, 10, and Chris, 8, who have spent part of this summer touring with mom and dad. Although she says she has tapered off her recording and touring to spend time rearing her children, Gayle is putting the finishing touches on a yet-untitled gospel album, due out this fall. Other projects occupying the Grammy Award-winning (for "Don't it Make My Brown Eyes Blue") singer include a gift and jewelry store she opened seven years ago in Nashville.
As far as her children following in her musical footsteps, Gayle stresses that she is "no stage mother."
"Chris studies the violin and Catherine takes piano lessons, and they both have very pretty voices, so you never know."
At Frost Amphitheatre, Gayle says she will "of course do 'Brown Eyes' and 'Talking in Your Sleep'--a little bit of everything from over the years. I absolutely love performing with symphonies. You get the opportunity to put a bit of a different twist on things."
Gayle joins a distinctive roster of performers who have lent their talents to the CHC's annual show: Ella Fitzgerald in 1975, Benny Goodman in 1974 and '76, Diahann Carroll in 1990. Last summer, Michael Feinstein performed his renditions of American pop standards.
"I think programs like this (the CHC) are so important," Gayle says. "It's important for me to be involved. You can't do everything, and there are so many good causes, but when it comes to kids, we have to do all we can."
Children's Health Council's Summer Symphony
When: Sunday, July 31; gates open at 3 p.m. for picnicking and live music by Bob Schulz and His Frisco Jazz Band, main concert begins at 5 p.m.
Where: Frost Amphitheatre, Stanford University
Cost: $20 lawn, $30 general, $40 sponsor, $10 children under 12; tickets available in advance or at the gate
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