By Cortney Cowen
News Star Feature Writer
Lily Weatherford, a long-time resident of Paoli, has always been known for her musical talent.
If one were to ask her friends and her family how long they had known of Lily’s musical talent, one would most likely hear this statement: “Lily has been able to carry a harmony since before she could talk plain.”
The legendary Gospel singer will end her career this May as she plans to retire from spreading God’s Word in song.
“I feel that this is what the Lord wants for my life at this time. Over the past several years, there have been so many changes in the economy and state of the country that it has become financially unfeasible for me to continue on in the same manner of ministry,” she told her fans on her web site, www.lilyweatherford.com.
Her last tour will be in California in May.
Lily has been singing Southern Gospel music since 1944 at the age of fifteen in a quartet with her husband, Earl, whom she married in 1945.
The group was featured on two radio stations, three times per day in Longbeach, California in 1945.
When asked about why she chose to sing Gospel music, Weatherford stated that she was the daughter of a Nazarene Pastor.
“Church music was all I ever heard,” she recalled “but when I met my husband, he sang a new kind of music called Gospel music, and I liked it”.
In 1992, at the age of sixty-three, Lily lost her husband of almost forty-seven years. As one would assume, she was heartbroken, but she never quit singing.
“Not one time did I think of not singing; I never missed a concert,” shared Weatherford. “My salvation and knowing God would take care of me is what kept me going”.
Weatherford’s musical style was modeled after that of the Big Band singers, Doris Day and Patti Page, who was the number one female vocal pop artists of the 50’s. Lily’s favorite artists to date consist of groups such as the late Statesmen, the Booth Brothers and Bill Gaither.
She has been in every Homecoming video the Gaithers have produced and has plans to be in another in July of this year.
Pastor Terry Erwin and the rest of the Pentecostal Church of Paoli have had the privilege of having Weatherford as a part of their congregation for the past 10 years while she was not traveling.
As an end to her career, the church will be hosting Lily’s final concert in Paoli on Saturday, April 6, at 5:00 pm. This concert will be open to the public with a reception to follow.
Weatherford announced on her web site that she has sold her home in Paoli and will be moving to Broken Arrow, Okla., to be with her daughter, Susan, and her husband Tim.
Her son, Steve, has decided to keep the Weatherford tradition going in some form, Lily said.
“He will be making announcements as to the future of the Weatherfords. Steve has been faithful to the Weatherfords for 37 years and he wishes to carry on.
“I would appreciate it if you would support him as you have supported us with your love and prayers,” she told fans in her retirement announcement.
Though Weatherford is retiring from a career on the road, she can be found singing with the congregation of her home church as well as other area churches, as requested.