It’s been eight years since Patty Loveless has performed at CMA Music Festival. Her return this year is reason to celebrate – but the five-time CMA Award winner wants to make sure it’s also a reason to benefit from what she has learned about a killer disease.
Loveless grew up in a musical family – Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle are among her cousins – but her main inspiration and role model was her older sister Dottie. “The first time I heard her sing, I was 6 or 7 years old,” Loveless recalled. “My brother was stationed at Fort Knox, and we went to the camp. While we were there, Dottie got up and sang with the band in the officers’ club. She had an amazing voice; to me, she sounded a little bit like a combination of Patsy Cline, Connie Smith and Brenda Lee. It was just unbelievable how she moved the solders in there, and I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do someday. I want to make people feel through music.’”
She would achieve that goal, but along the way Loveless would suffer the blow of her sister’s death in 1996, at the age of 48. She was a victim of emphysema, which like chronic bronchitis is categorized as a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). That experience has led Loveless to lend her name and talent to supporting DRIVE4COPD, a movement dedicated to spreading awareness of the nation’s fourth leading cause of death.
The campaign’s hard-rockin’ theme song, “Drive,” was written by Loveless and her husband Emory Gordy Jr. Her performance is available as a free download to everyone who visits www.DRIVE4COPD.com to take a brief, five-question screener designed to help them see whether they are at risk for the disease.
“I wanted ‘Drive’ to pick people up, put them in the driver’s seat and take that wheel of life,” Loveless explained. “I was a little more shy than Dottie was; she was very energetic, so this gives me an opportunity to share with the people about her and at the same time to encourage them to get back in control and look where they’re heading.”
On Friday, June 11, Loveless will perform on the Riverfront Park Daytime Stage at 11:45 AM and appear at the Sports Zone Main Stage at 4 PM. But she’ll also be speaking one-and-one with fans, signing autographs and encouraging them to take the COPD test. Those who do can enter for a chance to win a trip to the CMA Awards in November or to a NASCAR weekend in Daytona in February 2011.
“Throughout this COPD campaign I’ve been very talkative with fans, even about their health situations,” Loveless said. “To hear them share with me about a family member, or themselves, suffering with some form of COPD, I feel that if I had been educated about it, my sister might have seen a doctor sooner. That’s why I want everyone to take this five-question screener. It takes a few minutes of your time, but that’s nothing compared to a lifetime.”