Tennessean - Cindy Watts
She is the unmistakable voice behind the 1950 iconic hit "Tennessee Waltz."
He is a senator, former governor and presidential candidate who just happens to play piano.
So what brought Patti Page and Lamar Alexander together Tuesday in Curb Records' studio?
The occasion was the re-recording of "Tennessee Waltz," the top-selling single ever by a female artist. Page's manager, Michael Glynn, said that the session took place was a small miracle he attributes to two chance meetings involving Curb Records' founder, Mike Curb.
"We came down here to record a new country album, and Mike was here hosting the FCC," he said. "Mike became aware of the album and said he would be interested in distributing it."
Not long after, Alexander had his own chance meeting with Mike Curb. The encounter paved Alexander's way into the studio to play on Page's new recording of "Tennessee Waltz."
"I'm excited about the new Patti Page album, and I've long been a fan of Lamar Alexander as a senator and when he ran for president," Curb said during Tuesday's recording session. "I ran into him, and he told me how much he liked Patti Page. I asked if it would be possible to get the two of them together. I knew he was a wonderful musician, and here we are."
Two will perform tonight
The unlikely pair wasted little time getting started Tuesday. Alexander slid onto the bench behind piano as Page cleared her throat and slipped the earphones onto her head. The senator took a few practice runs on the keys, the studio band assumed position, and the recording was in progress. Page's voice was pure as silk and sailed over the notes much as it did almost 60 years ago.
After a few quick run-throughs with the studio band, Page and Alexander returned to the control room to hear their handiwork.
"Nice sound, Lamar," commented Page of the senator's piano playing.
"You fit right in with them," Curb said of Alexander's contribution.
But the senator was quick to give praise to the studio musicians and said, "I know the difference in what I can do and what they can do.
"I know just enough to know that I'm just glad to be here. That's a good way to make a governor sound good on a record. I'm somewhere on there. It's just been a terrific experience, a real treat. The amount of talent here in Nashville is just astonishing. People just don't appreciate it."
Page and Alexander, who hadn't met until Tuesday, will perform "Tennessee Waltz" tonight at a private fundraiser at Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
And the new "Tennessee Waltz" is on Page's CD set for release over the summer.
Page, 79, said she is just grateful to have had the opportunity to record the song the first time and this chance to re-record the classic.
"I think what motivates anyone is the feeling you can contribute to what's happening at the time," Page said. "And the money isn't a bad thing either. You just didn't make millions of dollars back then."