Country singer Crystal Gayle is known for hits like "Don't it Make My Brown Eyes Blue" and "Talking in Your Sleep" - but she may be most famous for her ankle-length mane of black hair.
"Lately, with this heat here, I've wanted to cut it off," Gayle said with a laugh during a telephone interview from her Nashville home. She spoke with the Deseret News in anticipation of her concert date with the Utah Symphony in Deer Valley on Saturday, July 11.Gayle has played various Utah venues over the years, ranging from the 49th Street Galleria (now the Fun Dome) to the Utah State Fairpark. But this is her first performance with the symphony.
"Through the years I've worked with symphonies throughout the country," she explained. "My songs combine well with symphonies."
When she's singing, Gayle has a fluid, mellow, brown-toned voice. But when speaking, it's low and slightly breathy, frequently punctuated with laughter.
It is a unique voice, easily recognizable. But, as with ordinary folks, it is more often used for prosaic, everyday tasks than entertaining large audiences.
Before settling down to talk, Gayle used that voice to shoo her young son out of the room. "I'm talking here! Go into the other room!" Gayle also has a teenage daughter.
"I'm not any different than anybody else," she said. "I did not grow up having anything done for me. . . . I know I'll be doing more television and more tours, but I'm also trying to be a good mother."
When she had children, Gayle slowed down her touring to provide them with a more stable environment. And when she tours she sometimes takes them along. Last spring, for instance, she took them to England and Ireland.
"Yes, I took them out of school," she said with a laugh. "I felt it was educational (for them to see the British Isles). Normally I try to keep it reasonable."
The sister of singer Loretta Lynn (whose life was chronicled in the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter"), Gayle grew up in the Appalachian coal mining town of Paintsville, Ky. The youngest of eight children, she did plenty of chores and listened to a wide variety of music - folk, pop, rock and roll, show tunes, gospel and country.
Her two latest albums, "Someday" and "He is Beautiful," are gospel songs.
"For many years I had wanted to do an album of gospel music," she said. "It is more or less letting people know there is another side to me, singing songs I love to sing. I'm not ashamed to let people know of my religion and my relationship with God."
But back to the important question: Is Gayle really serious about cutting her hair?
"Well, it's really muggy here today," she said. "It's 97 degrees, but the heat is 110 with the humidity."
Besides making her hot, Gayle's famous hair requires a lot of work to take care of. "The worst part is combing it out after I've washed it," she said.
Recently Gayle was running late and had to pick up her son just after getting out of the shower. With no time to arrange her hair, she got into the car with it loose, whereupon it immediately got tangled up with the seat belt. She finally wound up wrapping it around her neck to get it out of the way.
"Lately I've wanted to cut off a few inches at a time and get it up to my waist and back," she said. "I'm part Cherokee (one-quarter), so my hair grows fast."
The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be a mixture of styles, familiar hits and new tunes.
For tickets call 533-NOTE or visit the Utah Symphony box office at 123 W. South Temple. Tickets are also available from the Kimball Arts Center, 1-435-649-8882, High Mountain Properties, 1-435-655-8363, 1-800-239-6144, Park City Reservations, 1-435-649-5900, and Accommodations at Deer Valley, 1-435-649-8800.