ORVAL PROPHET (1985 Inductee)

Born in Edwards, Ontario, Orval Prophet was influenced, at an early age, by his music teacher mother and his father, who both sang in their church choir. As a youth, he taught himself how to play the guitar and, at age 14, he teamed up with his sister, Helen, to play local fairs and dances for $4 a night. He then graduated to a group called Fiddler’s Fling, where he gained additional exposure as they toured the Ottawa Valley.

Orval was invited to tour with Wilf Carter, who was so impressed with the young man that he took a demo tape to New York, which resulted in a Decca recording contract. The attraction of the farm, however, was stronger than offers from Dallas, Shreveport and Wheeling. At home, he worked from early morning on the farm and sang late in to the night as a featured vocalist with Mac Beattie’s Ottawa Valley Melodiers.

A name changed rekindled his career south of the border. Now as Johnny Six, with a hit song, "Mademoiselle", he moved to Wheeling. He joined the Wheeling Jamboree and was on the road Monday to Friday, appearing as a regular on the show every Saturday night. Orval joined the Johnny Cash touring show and maintained the same hectic pace. The strain of his multi-faceted career finally resulted in a heart attack, which rather than stopping the entertainer, merely slowed him down temporarily.

The first attack came only three months after his marriage to his beloved Lois (Haley). He suffered numerous other heart attacks but refused to change his work habits. He was delivered yet another devastating blow when, in 1969, Lois passed away as a result of diabetes.

Orval finally agreed to open heart surgery and once again returned to the stage. With a new lease on life, Orval remarried, and Dallas Harms, "Just a Simple Love Song", honoured him and his new wife, Laurette, with a tribute song. Other dedications were written for him over the years, including Artie MacLaren’s "Where Have All The Cowboy Songs Gone?", and his life story was chronicled in Dallas Harms’ song, "I’ve Seen Some Things". Among his many tributes, Orval was honored as Outstanding Male Performer of the Year by RPM Magazine and received the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame Award. After the many health warnings, Oval’s heart finally gave out, and he died on January 4, 1984.

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