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Grand Ole Opry Member Jimmy C. Newman Passes

Grand Ole Opry member Jimmy C. Newman, known for mixing Cajun and country music, has died. Newman died in Nashville Saturday after a short fight with cancer. He was 86.

Newman, originally from Highpoint, Louisiana, was a mainstay on the Opry stage for more than 50 years, first joining in 1956. He last performed at the Opry House on June 6, with his band, Cajun Country. His hits include country tunes A Fallen Star, Artificial Rose and Cry, Cry, Darling as well as the Cajun-infused Alligator Man and Bayou Talk.

Jimmy Newman was a mentor to many future stars, including Tom T. Hall. When Hall was a struggling song-writer in 1963, Newman would record DJ For A Day, which would become Hall’s first top-40 hit. Newman also offered a boost to teenager Dolly Parton, allowing her to take part of his allotted Friday Night Opry stage time in 1959 so that she could make her debut on the show. He also helped fellow Louisianan Eddy Raven get a publishing deal in the 1970s, and he gave a gleaming yellow stage suit to a scuffling young Marty Stuart so that Stuart could look like a bandleader.

Newman was inducted into both the Cajun Music Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. A public service will be held Wednesday at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.

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