Country singer Donna Fargo delighted millions of music fans in the 1970s with upbeat songs such as “Funny Face” and “The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.” But then the Grammy winner’s life took a downward turn when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1978, and her style of polished country-pop fell out of favor with radio in the ’80s.
The circumstances made Fargo determined to find another way to use her creative gifts. Ten years ago, she embarked on a new way of touching hearts: writing inspirational greeting cards, books and calendars to share encouraging, life-affirming messages of hope and faith.
“Writing without hearing a melody was harder than I thought,” concedes the former high school English teacher from Mount Airy, N.C. “But it still allowed me to expand on my songwriting, as far as being economical with words and trying to reach an audience in a meaningful way.”
Fargo’s greeting cards, marketed by Blue Mountain Arts, are available in retail outlets nationwide, and her fourth and latest book, Ten Golden Rules for Living in This Crazy, Mixed-Up World, offers common-sense advice to help people realize that their lives are sacred and precious. In writing the book, Fargo, 62, says she “tried to figure out what I believe about life and how we should live in the world and deal with people and ourselves. We all make mistakes, and sometimes you have to make them to figure out the most important things. When I found out I had MS, I started a really intense study of spirit, mind and body, and how you need to be in sync with all three things.”
Fargo also is in sync with a huge number of greeting-card buyers, says Patti Wayant, editorial manager of Blue Mountain Arts. “She’s a wonderful writer,” Wayant says. “Donna captures what people want to say to each other, which is exactly what greeting cards are all about.”
That’s no surprise to Michael Gray, museum editor at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn. “Besides being one of the most successful country-pop crossover artists of the 1970s, Donna also earned much respect as a composer,” he says. “Along with such legends as Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, she was one of the few female country singers to write her own hits during that era. And she is much loved for her winning personality, so her popularity goes beyond America. She’s a major star in Canada, Britain, Australia and other countries.”
Fargo’s books and her 2007 calendar, titled I Prayed for You Today: Uplifting Thoughts to Let Someone Special Know How Much You Care, have been printed in Spanish, French, German and Japanese. Although she hasn’t toured or performed for several years, Fargo continues to write songs “for my own amusement, I guess.” And she says her health remains good after recovering from two major MS attacks—in 1978 and 1990—though she has residual numbness throughout her body.
“The thing that’s helped the most is that I make myself get up and work each day,” says Fargo, who lives in Franklin, Tenn., with her husband of 37 years, Stan Silver, who also has served as her producer, manager and the inspiration for many of her songs and other writings throughout the years. “I need my creative outlet to be my authentic self.”
Staying involved, she believes, is the key to maintaining a healthy, happy lifestyle and having a positive effect on the people and circumstances around you. “Whatever you have to offer, you have to exercise it and work from a position of the love in your heart,” she says. “Too often people try to change the big world without trying to change their small world first.”