Words, Music, Piano, Vocals by Donna Hughes
Flying Hound Publishing, BMI
Featuring 2019, 2020 & 2021 CMA Musician of the Year, Jenee Fleenor on Violin.
Engineered by Steve Chandler at Hilltop Studios, Nashville, TN.
Video Directed by Dean Jones, Atlantic Pacific Studios.
On a horse, he would ride
Into town every day
A charming man, a handsome smile
A white horse, a wealthy name
Naomi was an orphan girl
She fetched the water for the fields
Back and forth to the river
Easy was her heart to steal
Her heart raced a thousand beats
Every day when he would pass
He got down off his horse
Bowed his head, and took her hand
Her heart awakened that warm spring
Like the flowers by the river bank
And he promised her the world
She would never be the same
When it was found she was with child
His wealthy name would not be tied down
Forbade he was to see her
So he found another path to town
Naomi cried herself to sleep
He had found another love
No longer passing by
She was forgotten, it was done
Naomi went & tracked him down
And he gently took her hand
And he led her to the water
Held her down, until she drowned
Until she drowned
Until she drowned
Until she drowned
The love he gave, she'd never had
Forbidden love will never last
Floating by the River's edge
Because she loved him, now she's dead
From North Randolph Historical Society’s grant application for Naomi's Historical Marker:
The legend of Naomi Wise is based on her murder, which occurred in April of 1807, by her accused lover, Jonathan Lewis. Naomi Wise was a lovely young orphan girl who lived with the William Adams family in what is now the village of New Salem, north of Randleman, North Carolina. While working for the Adams family, Naomi met the handsome Jonathan Lewis who lived a few miles away and passed by the Adams residence on his way to and from Asheboro where he worked for a wealthy storekeeper, Benjamin Elliott. The Adams family warned Naomi about Lewis. While good-looking and dashing, Jonathan was said to have a temper and sometimes lack stability. He was said to come from a powerful, unruly family. However, Naomi was taken under his spell. She fell in love with him and he gave the impression of being equally in love with her.
Taking advantage of Naomi’s innocence, Lewis lured her into a relationship in which she became pregnant. In the meantime, he was seeing his employer’s sister, Miss Hettie Elliott and trying to establish a relationship with her. The Elliott family was well to do and Jonathan saw an opportunity for advancement. When Jonathan found out Naomi was pregnant, he knew his chances with Miss Elliott would be ruined. Under the guise of promising Naomi marriage and wealth he asked her to meet him at Adams’ spring late one evening and they would be married and she would not be disgraced. On that evening Naomi went to the spring and met the awaiting Jonathan and they proceeded to ride toward Randleman. They arrived at the Deep River ford and Lewis started across, but in midstream paused. He told Naomi what a fool she had been for believing he would marry her and with those last words threw her from his horse into the water where he proceeded to drown her. The next morning, Naomi’s body was found below the river ford and brought to shore. Suspicions immediately turned toward Jonathan Lewis as the murderer. Lewis was captured and brought to the river for the inquest and pronounced guilty. He was indicted and jailed for the murder of Naomi, but soon escaped jail and fled westward. Several years later he was found and brought back to stand trial. By that time, many of the witnesses had either died or moved away and there was not sufficient evidence to convict him. On his deathbed it was said the apparition of Naomi was ever before Jonathan and he was tormented by her image. Before his last breath, he confessed to her murder.
The story of her life and death have intrigued and enchanted generations of souls, and has been written about by countless people of all walks of life, for over two centuries.
Braxton Craven, the second President of Duke University, wrote a captivating story about her life that was published in 1851. Nineteenth century grist mills, modern streets, bridges, and rivers have been named after her. Songs have been written about her by the likes of Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, and many others, both famous and unknown.
This simply sold itself to Donna as a great topic, because of the timeless nature of the song:
How the rich can sometimes take advantage of the poor, and how men can sometimes take advantage of women.
Naomi was poor, an outcast during her day, yet her name & legend has survived for over 2 centuries.
Nineteenth century grist mills, modern streets, bridges, and rivers have been named after her. Songs have been written about her by the likes of Bob Dylan, Doc Watson, and many others, both famous and unknown. No photos of her exist, but her name lives on.
Donna's version was recorded in Nashville at the legendary Hilltop Studios, with Engineer Steve Chandler, who has recorded everyone from Dolly Parton to Merle Haggard, and features Donna on piano and vocals. Also featured is guest Jenee Fleenor, who takes the song to another level as she dazzles the listener with some heavenly violin and viola. Jenee is the 2019, 2020 & CMA Musician of the Year, the first female to ever win this honor. Jenee plays with Blake Shelton full time, & is in the House Band on "The Voice." She has appeared with Blake on Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon, Ellen, and countless other hit television shows. She's performed on The Grand Ole Opry with Dolly Parton & others.
In tandem with this elegantly and beautifully crafted song, the featured music video was directed, written, and produced by two-time Emmy winner and North Carolina native Dean Jones of Atlantic & Pacific Studios. The video features John Boyd West, Gina Ferraro, a local musician, Chris Poole, of The Flint Hill Band and many other talented actors!
The locations were breathtaking. Naomi Wise was filmed for an entire weekend at the beautiful brick mansion, built in 1808 by the 4 Greats Grandfather of the Late Senator John McCain, called "High Rock Farm," in Gibsonville, NC.
Another location chosen was Cedar Rock Park in Burlington, with it's majestic waterfall.
Donna flew Jenee in from Nashville for the Video. Jenee spent the entire day fiddling barefoot on the waterfall, only to have the drone crash by accident into the river.
Luckily a couple of weeks later, Dean, the Producer, was able to secure a dive team to go into the river to retrieve the drone. Also luckily the footage was able to be saved!
The film is a masterpiece, and Donna is very proud of this work.
The William G. Pomeroy Foundation received a grant from the North Randolph Historical Society to erect a Highway Marker in honor of Naomi Wise, located at 144S S Main St, Randleman, NC 27317.
Donna was honored to be asked to sing her version of Naomi Wise at the Dedication of the Marker, attended by City Council Members, and the Mayor. This was covered by WGHP Fox 8 News.
Who is the world has ever rolled a piano they got free off facebook marketplace, painted it white, and rolled it into a highly populated public park, near a waterfall? Dean Jones! The piano sat in the park all night. When it was time to roll it away, a wheel broke off! It had to sit there a second night!
I wonder what people thought when they were jogging in a beautiful park, to come across a piano!
Jenee was flown in from Nashville, and spent an entire day fiddling barefoot on a waterfall! Then the drone camera that was filming her crashed into the river! Luckily a dive team was able to recover the drone a couple of weeks later, and the footage was saved!
Roy, Donna Lawrence's husband is a fan of Jimmy Fortune. Jenee called Jimmy on the phone, and let Roy speak to him! He was shocked!
Special thanks to all who participated in the making of Naomi Wise, from the Production Assistants, to the Caterers, the Costume Designers, Set Designers, Script Writers, Hair Dressers, Makeup Artists, Film Crew, and all those who were involved! Everyone had a great time! It was rewarding & unforgettable!
Filmed at the Holt Cemetery at the Alamance County Museum
Waterfall in Cedar Rock Park, Burlington, NC
High Rock Farm Mansion, Gibsonville, NC
John West, son of Red West, who was the personal Bodyguard and close friend of Elvis Presley
Filming the drowning scene.
No one was hurt in the filming of this video. lol
Old house at Cedar Rock Park.
High Rock Farm Mansion, Gibsonville, NC
Built in 1807 by the 4 Greats Grandfather of the Late Senator John McCain.
Costume trailer & dressing room.
The mosaic tile in front is original to the house (1807). Pretty remarkable.
Back porch of High Rock Mansion.
2 story front porch.
I think they had to run up and down the steps 100 times, then they didn't use that shot.
In awe over the original mosaic tile over 200 years old.
After fiddling on a waterfall for a whole day, having flown all the way in from Nashville, TN, the Drone Camera with all the beautiful footage of Jenee Fleenor crashed into the Haw River. Luckily this Dive Team was able to recover the Drone and save the footage!
Getting her hair done is Gina Ferraro, a well known Actress. She played the "mean Mom" in Naomi Wise.
Unsuspecting park goers on the other side of the tree.
Donna's friends Joe & Dee Dillon, warming up the horses!.
Chris Poole demonstrating his equestrian skills!
Jenee & Donna, getting all gussied up!