Getting to know Helen Cornelius...
From the very beginning, HELEN CORNELIUS has had a vision of her destiny. As she told Bill Littleton of Performance Magazine, "Belief in oneself is probably the most important ingredient to success that there is, because if you believe in yourself, then nothing is gonna knock you down. I'm ready to fly."
If he had know her, Mark Twain would have liked a lot of the traits deeply ingrained in HELEN'S character. The kind of spirit of adventure he so often wrote about; the determination to meet life's challenges head-on; the character and positive belief in herself that Joseph and Lu Elsie Johnson imparted to HELEN LORENE and her seven brothers and sisters.
HELEN grew up on a farm in Missouri, where she listened to radio's Grand Ole Opry and sang with her sisters, accompanied by her brothers who played in country bands. Since her musical debut at the age of five, HELEN has won numerous talent contests, including three winning appearances on The Ted Mack Amateur Hour in 1970.
It was her songwriting that initially swung open the doors along the corridors of Nashville's Music Row. By the mid-70's, HELEN had songs recorded by a number of major artists, including The Oak Ridge Boys, Reba McEntire, Jeannie C. Riley, Connie Smith, Charlie Louvin & Melba Montgomery, LaCosta, and Dottsy... just to mention a few. While it was her writing that first won her major credibility, it was the voice that RCA Record executives heard that won HELEN CORNELIUS her first major recording contract in 1975. With it, history was about to be made.
HELEN'S teaming on record with Jim Ed Brown was further crowned with success by her individual nomination as "Most Promising Female Vocalist" by Music City News in 1977. Following this win, the West Coast based Academy of Country Music gave her their prestigious nod in the "Best New Female Vocalist" category. Also in 1977, Jim Ed Brown and HELEN CORNELIUS won the coveted CMA Award for "Vocal Duo Of The Year", "Single Of The Year", and "Album Of The Year".
For four and a half years HELEN was an integral part of the Jim Ed Brown Show, and was seen weekly by seven million viewers as a regular on the Nashville On The Road syndicated television shows. The results of this association, including HELEN'S first number one record "I Don't Want to Have to Marry You" were astounding and HELEN would be the very last to underestimate the impact of those years.
But there was always the desire to do more than just stand in front of a microphone and sing her half of a duet. She was capable of much more, and anyone who has seen her perform lately knows just how much!
October 1980 HELEN assembled a five piece band, worked up and energetic, entertaining show, taking full advantage of the freedom to display all sides of her talent. She immediately began touring with Conway Twitty for the next year and a half. Her experience has grown to match her tremendous self-confidence. She says, "With me, it's never a question of if I do a certain thing, it's always when I do it." HELEN and her band, Southern Spirit, toured year round and developed a reputation as one of the most dependable acts in the business.
January 1984 HELEN prepared to add a new and very exciting chapter not only to her own career, but to the course of country music as well. Bill Fegan Attractions chose HELEN to play the lead in a road show revival of Irving Berlin's "Annie Get Your Gun".
On the heels of closing in "Annie Get Your Gun", HELEN shifted gears to tour with The Statler Brothers on their sellout concert series for the next two years along with the demands of her own individual concert dates. Notes fro major reviewers caught the impact of what was happening. As one reviewer deftly pinpointed... "HELEN CORNELIUS has grown into a performer who can walk on-stage, grab a crowd, and hold it right where she wants it... in the palm of her hand."
March 19, 1988 at The Little Nashville Opry in Nashville, Indiana... two sold-out performances for the much heralded re-teaming in concert of Jim Ed Brown and HELEN CORNELIUS in a flurry of media attention, country music's award winning duo launched a reunion tour that emblazoned a clear message... Brown and CORNELIUS still possessed that certain magic to ignite a song and an audience when they walked on-stage together.
In 1991, ready for a new challenge HELEN opened a diner theater in Gatlinburg, TN. She performed nightly at "Nashville South" through December 1996. As she stated, "I loved getting to sing different songs each night, take requests, and do such a variety of music. I also loved hiking the mountains and becoming a part of the beautiful Smoky Mountains".
In 1997, HELEN joined with Jim Ed Brown to perform in the Eagle Mountain Theater in Pigeon Forge, TN along with Con Hunley. "I loved that show, and having great voices surrounding the blend of Jim Ed and myself was such a pleasure".
HELEN performed in Branson, MO at the 76 Music Hall with the Grand Ladies of Country Music Show (featuring Jan Howard, Margo Smith, Leona Williams, Jean Shepard and others) until May of 2003. At that time, HELEN began accepting road dates and started touring the country again.
HELEN continues to perform with Jim Ed Brown periodically on the Grand Ole Opry, as well as county and state fairs, in addition to her own solo appearances.
"I feel so blessed to be able to make a living doing something I love so much."
In May of 2005, HELEN was honored by the State of Missouri when she was inducted into the Missouri Country Music Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Springfield, MO.
With her present day country music honors and accomplishments, many feel HELEN has done as much as Mark Twain to put their mutual hometown of Hannibal, MO in the mental map of America!