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Roman recalls Hee Haw days, keeps singing

Not long ago, I was surfing the channels on satellite television and ran across an episode of “Hee Haw.” Quickly, I was reminded of the great talents of Lulu Roman.

“That show made me a household name. I am very grateful for that experience,” Roman said in a phone interview.

Roman is well remembered for her long tenure as a regular on Hee Haw. She was on the show for its entire tenure, 1969–1992. However, what many music fans may not know is Roman’s life has not always been as light-hearted and fun loving as her television skits.

She was born with a thyroid dysfunction in a home for unwed mothers. At a very early age, she was placed in an orphanage. A severe weight problem only added to her pain, thus decreasing her chances for adoption and putting her in the spotlight for teasing and rude comments from other children. As a defense mechanism, Roman used her sense of humor, which ultimately led to a weekly spot on national television.

Upon Buck Owens’ recommendation, Roman was selected for Hee Haw, which was co-hosted by Owens and Roy Clark. On the show, she was featured in many skits, most notably The Culhanes and Lulu’s Truck Stop.

“When the producers of Hee Haw told Buck that they wanted the cast to consist of a cute blonde, a cute brunette, and a dumb fat girl, he suggested me,” Roman said with a laugh. “Buck knew me from his days of playing the nightclubs in Texas. He was a true professional, and I loved him like a brother.”

Nonetheless, this was a difficult time for her away from the camera. Roman battled a drug addiction that lead to multiple arrests in 1971.

“I really hit the bottom,” she noted. “I was arrested twice on drugs charges. Later, I received a full and complete pardon from the Governor of Texas. Most of all, I accepted Jesus into my life, and soon, so many wonderful things started coming my way.”

Throughout the decade of the 1970s, Roman recorded several gospel albums for Rainbow Records. Projects such as “Now Let Me Sing,” “Love Coming Down,” and “Sing for My Friends” revealed her vocal talent and love for the Lord. At any rate, some struggled with her combination of television comedy and gospel recordings.

“The country music people said that I was too gospel, and the gospel music people said that I was too country,” she stated. “This was a huge problem, especially from the standpoint of me pursuing a career in the gospel field. I really felt like I was stuck in the middle.”

Roman, who has been inducted into both the Country Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Christian Music Hall of Fame, has continued recording gospel music with many albums receiving critical acclaim. Her 2001 release, “Inspired,” was nominated by the Gospel Music Association for a Dove award for Country Album of the Year.

Her most recent album, “At Last,” is a very special project for Roman. The album features such guests as Dolly Parton, Mahaila Jackson and Georgette Jones, who is the daughter of George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Among the highlighted cuts on the album are “In My Life” and “You Don’t Know Me.”

Beebe writer Charles Haymes is a member of International Bluegrass Music Association and the Country Music Association. Email him at charleshaymes@gmail.com.

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