11/23/2005 – Randolph Guide
By Larry Penkava – Staff writer

It was a big step in Donna Hughes’s music career when a song she wrote, “My Poor Old Heart,” was performed by Alison Krauss and Union Station at the CMA Awards Show last week on CBS. It was one of 16 songs on the group’s latest CD, “Lonely Runs Both Ways.” Krauss was nominated for Best Female Vocalist, Krauss and Union Station were nominees for Vocal Group of the Year and a member of the band, Jerry Douglas, won the award for Best Musician. About two hours into the program, Krauss and Union Station appeared on the stage of Madison Square Garden for their performance. There were a few seconds of panic when Krauss’s microphone apparently wasn’t working, but the problem was soon corrected. “It was kind of panicky,” Hughes, who watched the show with family members, said of the glitch. She credited Krauss with remaining composed until the sound of her voice came through. “She’s good under pressure,” said Hughes the next day from her Trinity home. “The song was well performed. I was elated. It was weird watching a show like that when a song I wrote on my little piano … is being performed on a great big stage in front of all those people.” A bluegrass singer and songwriter who has signed with Rounder Records and expects to have her own CD out in the spring, Hughes had gotten one of her self-produced recordings into the hands of one of Krauss’s band members. “My Poor Old Heart” was the last song chosen for “Lonely Runs Both Ways.”

Hughes said she felt fortunate that the song fit what Krauss was looking for in her album. The track could easily have gone to another song. “I think small (in goal setting), take baby steps,” she said. “I never thought I’d go this far.” She said one of her first goals was to get air time for her recordings on “one small station. Then on many stations.” Having air time on the Country Music Association Awards Show didn’t even make her list. “It’s a neat feeling, it really is,” she said. “My cousins (watching with her) were kind of speechless. I was chattering away, not really knowing what I was saying, and they were trying to tune me out and hear (Krauss).” Hughes, who teaches gymnastics classes, had told her students that her song was going to be performed on prime time. Her cousin, Lisa Thompson, a teacher at Farmer Elementary School, had it announced on the intercom.

“All the kids were excited about it,” Hughes said. Since she found out that Krauss was going to use her song on the album, Hughes has been in contact with the established star, having lunched with her in Nashville. They’ve also talked on the phone, and Hughes has saved messages on her answering machine of Krauss and one of the band members, Barry Bales. Krauss has also given credit to Hughes at her concerts, acknowledging the songwriter when performing “My Poor Old Heart.”
Once in concert at Greensboro, Krauss had Hughes’ parents, Ed and Loraye Hughes, to stand in recognition of their 34th anniversay. Krauss also mentioned Hughes at MerleFest and at the International Bluegrass Music Association awards show in Nashville. “She’s a dear person and doesn’t forget people,” Hughes said of Krauss.
Larry Penkava is a staff writer for The Randolph Guide.