Sara-Jeanne Hosie performs as Patsy Cline during Country Legends, with Johnny Cash tribute Big River, at the Port Theatre.

Sara-Jeanne Hosie performs as Patsy Cline during Country Legends, with Johnny Cash tribute Big River, at the Port Theatre.

Legends live again: tribute concert to country stars in Nanaimo

Sara-Jeanne Hosie performs as Patsy Cline in Country Legends at Nanaimo's Port Theatre

On stage, anything can happen.

People fall in love, others are betrayed and some of the best performers of our time come back to life.

Such is the case when Sara-Jeanne Hosie and David James present Country Legends, a tribute concert to Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, at the Port Theatre March 8.

“We’re treating this as a concert where Patsy opens up for Johnny Cash,” Hosie said.

Hosie has been playing Patsy Cline in Edmonton since 2006 as part of the production A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline. That show also appeared at Chemainus Theatre Festival and on Granville Island in Vancouver.

While A Closer Walk is a theatrical production, the Cash and Cline tribute is a concert and the first time that Hosie will play Cline in a concert setting.

Cline rose to the top of her industry, with songs like I Fall to Pieces and Crazy, during a time when men dominated the air waves and the boardrooms.

“She was a very strong woman,” Hosie said. “I’m an ambitious character myself, so we shared that.”

As a female country music singer, Cline would be traditionally introduced as “Pretty Miss Patsy Cline,” somewhat condescending by today’s standards. It was Johnny Cash who went against convention and announced her as “The one, the only, Patsy Cline,” during their 1962 tour. She was the first woman to not only play Carnegie Hall in New York but to also headline the Hollywood Bowl, with – wait for it – Johnny Cash.

Cline died during the height of her career in a plane crash in Tennessee in 1963, along with her manager Randy Hughes and country musicians Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas.

Hosie said it was easy to connect with Cline through the woman’s emotional and highly charged music.

“You really hear her heart,” Hosie said.

Hosie grew up in the theatre as her parents travelled across the country, performing in all types of shows. She couldn’t remember wanting to do anything else.

“It was in the blood,” she said. “I never looked back.”

Not only an actress and a singer – Hosie released an album of original music last year – she also choreographs and directs.

“I’m just grateful to work consistently as an artist,” she said.

Performing with Hosie is James and his band Big River, which is establishing itself as one of the premiere Johnny Cash tribute acts.

“Dave is great – he does an excellent job,” Hosie said.

James picks from Cash’s long catalogue of music, beginning in the 1950s with his early music, right up until his revival with cover songs such as Soundgarden’s Rusty Cage and Hurt, originally by Nine Inch Nails, which gave Cash’s career a late revival.

Cash died in 2003, just four months after his wife June Carter Cash.

Hosie said the concert offers a way for people to relive Cash and Cline’s music and to introduce it to a new generation of music fans.

Country Legends begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $35. Please call 250-754-8550.

Nanaimo News Bulletin