Canadian Country Music Association
Hall of Fame
Hal & Ginger Willis

Hal & Ginger Willis

  • Inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2010
  • Birth: Ginger: April 9, 1925; Hal: July 15, 1933
  • Death: Ginger: October 26, 2003
  • Background:

    Born Dorothy Jean Heppel in 1925, "Ginger" was raised in Toronto, her early passion for music fuled by her parents; as a teenager, Leonald "Hal" Francois Joseph Guy Gauthier worked in the logging camps, his real passion lying in music.

    Ginger first took in a performance by Leonald in Rouyn, Quebec, where she and her band had a gig.  Leonald soon joined Ginger & The Melody Rangers full-time and eventually, the two became a couple on stage and off with a trip down the aisle and a new floor show duo act in Montreal and upper New York State.

    Hal changed his name in acknowledgement of his idol Hank Williams and in 1955, Hal & Ginger moved to Nashville.  Ginger became the first Canadian female country artist on the Opry stage and they are one the only Canadian performers to have ever toured with the legendary Elvis Presley.

    Hal & Ginger's success as writers also hit a high with their songs being recorded by Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Ernest Tubb, Bobby Helms, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and The Wilburn Bros.  Hal and Ginger each won a BMI award; Hal received two gold records.

    Hal's beloved music and life partner, Ginger, passed away on October 26, 2003 at the age of 78 after a long and courageous battle with cancer.  After recent health trouble, Hal is now back on track and continues to live in Nashville, is writing songs and plans to cut a new album soon. 

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