As the world mourns the death of singer and sausage king Jimmy Dean, his second wife, Donna Meade Dean, has been pushed into the spotlight. Then again, center stage is a familiar place for her.
A singer in her own right, the second Mrs. Jimmy Dean grew up in Richmond, not far from Varina, the town where she and Dean lived together until his death on Sunday at age 81. In the 1960's, Donna Meade began playing with the Commodores, a band headlined by her brother; by 1971, she was performing on Richmond's Old Dominion Barn Dance, a popular country music program. In 1976 and 1977, she was chosen as Virginia's female vocalist of the year by the Virginia Folk Music Association and, in 1989, she was inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame -- eight years before Jimmy Dean was given the same honor.
In 1981, Meade moved to Nashville, where she got a songwriter's contract with Sony and, later, a recording contract with Mercury/Polygram. She regularly appeared on the Nashville Network, and met Jimmy Dean on Nashville Now, a weekly show that was hosted by Ralph Emery. The two married in 1991.Today, Donna Meade Dean continues to write and perform songs. She has written music for Nashville tourism, the Christian Children's Fund, and the City of Richmond.
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