Weber's Musical Talents Stretched Far & Wide Across The Nation
Special To The Tribune: Written By Dr. Marilyn Peterson
The purple Lincoln pulled up in front of the performance site. Elvis Presley stepped out of the car, ready for his gig.
The purple Cadillac pulled up in front of the performance site. LaVonne Clark stepped out of the car, ready for her gig.
It was show time in Midland, Texas, with Elvis on stage. “I was booked to provide the organ music during intermission,” LaVonne Weber said. “It was a special time, in my life as a professional musician, and I had the opportunity to work with Elvis.
“Yes, I have known other famous musicians including Lawrence Welk. He was playing in Minot, North Dakota, and I introduced myself. It was my pleasure to meet and to visit with him,” LaVonne said.
This story begins in San Angelo, Texas, where LaVonne was born to Truit and Lora Cunningham Clark. “My Dad had an unusual name, and he was proud to have been named fro the famous Christian preacher, Dr. Truit.”
“Our family, including my brother Larry, moved to Midland, Texas, where my Dad and Mom worked in a meet packing plant. My Mom started me on piano lessons, when I was six years old. It was a blessing, because I contracted polio. Much of my time was spent in the Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children, located in Dallas, LaVonne said.
Her Mother realized that her daughter would not be able to be a cheerleader nor a member of the drill team, so music would be important. At age 14, LaVonne began playing the piano for the Ballet School in Midland, plus the organ at Church. By the time she was 15, she had her own radio program, broadcast from her home.
“One day, the broadcast was unique. We had a canary in our house, and during the entire program, the canary sang. My Mom thought it was an unusual duet, perhaps a squeak in the organ.”
“In addition, I played in the coffee shop at the Scarborough Hotel and many private clubs.”
LaVonne graduated from Midland High School in 1953, and won music scholarships to colleges in Odessa and Lubbock. She didn’t continue her formal education, but preferred performing.
One day, she was in Hobbs, New Mexico, stopped at a gas station. “I noted that a large bus had pulled in. On the side was printed, ‘National Orchestra Service.’ I talked to the man in charge, and learned that he was a professional musician. He said that he could provide a contract for the booking agent--exactly what I needed. My opportunity to perform throughout the central part of America was a dream come true.”
“I loaded my Hammond Organ onto rollers, pulled it into my horse trailer and hitched it to my car. I was ready to travel, from North Dakota, to the Cow Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, to Nebraska, New Mexico and Texas. Often, my Mom would travel with me, which was a treat,” LaVonne said.
One of the bookings was at the Pawnee Hotel in North Platte. She was there for an extensive engagement, and she met a man from Cozad, Harold Weber. They fell in love and began their married life in Cozad. LaVonne continued to share her talents by playing in Churches, for special events and for the Rotary. Today, her music is shared with the residents of Meadowlark Pointe.
She is proud of her children Carmen Morse and Dell Weber, plus she beams when she talks about her grandchildren and great grands. She leans back in her chair, a time to reminisce about Arlie Duff, a noted country western singer.
There is a famous piece of music that could be her theme song, although it’s not “Blue Suede Shoes,” nor “Bubbles In The Wine.” “My dreams have come true,” she said. “‘I Have The World On A String.’ celebrating musical notes of happiness.”