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Cristy Lane

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Cristy Lane is best remembered for her 1979 single “One Day at a Time,” a gospel song that blended Protestant fervor with the language of self-help in a seamless, heartfelt whole. She is also noteworthy as one of the builders of the Branson, MO, live-entertainment phenomenon. Lane was born Eleanor Johnston to a family of 12 in Peoria, IL. Married before she was 20, she had three children by 1964. Her husband, Lee Stoller, a salesman, encouraged her to sing professionally, but she was painfully shy. After some tentative attempts, she landed several nightclub appearances and then a guest slot on Chicago’s WLS Barn Dance radio program in 1968. She took her stage name from that of a Peoria DJ, Chris Lane.Several early attempts to break into country music in Nashville came to nothing, and Lane struggled with the pressures of the performing career her husband was urging upon her. She attempted to commit suicide twice in the late ’60s, once after a difficult 1969 tour of Vietnam, organized by Stoller during which Lane performed 120 shows and was involved in a helicopter crash that left her stranded in the midst of a battle. Lane and Stoller returned to Peoria and opened a pair of nightclubs that featured Lane as the marquee attraction. In 1972, the Stoller family moved to a Nashville suburb and continued its attempts to get Lane’s career off the ground. The reaction from established label executives ranged from indifference to sexual come-ons for Lane, and finally Stoller formed his own label, LS, in the mid-’70s.

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