Fans remember Conway Twitty for his incredible country music sound, an endless string of hits, and his work with the country music crooner Loretta Lynn. However, the hitmaker’s fans may not know that his musical gene also transferred from himself to his children.
Even though his four marriages were full of turbulence and turmoil, Conway came away from it with four cherished gifts: his children, Michael, Kathy, Joni Lee, and Jimmy Twitt.
All of his children took after their father by dabbling in the country music world themselves. Today, Michael Twitty continues to perform as a tribute act to his late father, along with his son Tre Twitty.
After a few of the children faced difficulty trying to make it in the industry, Conway was reluctant to let young Joni Lee have a go at it.
Conway Twitty Invites Daughter into Recording Booth
As a teenager, Conway invited his daughter to join him in the recording studio to cut a rough demo titled “Don’t Cry Joni,” he would later have someone else re-do it.
“I had no idea I was going to be on the actual record,” Joni disclosed to Billboard. “Dad kind of tricked me. He told me he was going to take my voice off of the track and replace it with a professional singer.”
June 8, 1978 – Photographed by me – Conway Twitty & his daughter Joni Lee singing their hit song “Don’t Cry Joni” at the MCA Records Show at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee during Fan Fair.Posted by Ron Newcomer on Friday, April 14, 2017
Soon after releasing the song, it became an incredible track for Conway. To Joni’s surprise, her father had put her voice on the piece, and the father-daughter duo made it to the top of the country charts.
In an interview, Joni described the delight she felt after this shared success with her father.
“I was going to college up in Virginia and he said, ‘You’re not going to believe this. We have a hit record.’ I had no idea that my voice was still on the record. Being a kid, I started calling the radio stations asking them to play that new song by Conway Twitty and his daughter.”
Little did young Joni Lee know that this was just the beginning of her career as a country music singer.
Joni Lee Follows in Father’s Country Music Footsteps
Throughout the mid-to-late ’70s, Joni Lee released five individual singles and one studio album. Ironically, her debut album produced her biggest hit with “I’m Sorry Charlie,” which peaked at No. 16 on the “US Country” chart.
After her mysterious departure from country music, many speculated as to why she would leave despite her new-found success.
Even though she wasn’t releasing new music, she was still an active member of the country music world. She married fellow country singer John Wesley Ryles known for hits like “Once In A Lifetime Thing” and “Kay.”
Today, grown-up Joni Lee works as the president of Conway Twitty United. Through her work, she promotes her father’s legacy in various ways. In 2017, she led the release of an updated release of Twittty’s album, Timeless. The reworked album featured entirely new instrumentals from family and friends in addition to back-up vocals from her husband.