Norah Lee Allen, Longtime Opry Vocalist, and Wife Of The Oak Ridge Boys’ Duane Allen, Dies At 76

The Oak Ridge Boys shared a heartfelt statement, revealing “we have lost the matriarch of our family.”

By

Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

April 1, 2024

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Norah Lee Allen; Photo Provided

Norah Lee Allen, a longtime vocalist in the Grand Ole Opry band and the wife of The Oak Ridge Boys‘ lead singer Duane Allen, has died. 

Norah Lee passed away on Easter Sunday, March 31, after fighting an extended illness, according to a statement from The Oak Ridge Boys’ team. She was 76 years old. 

On Sunday, just after Norah Lee’s passing, Duane Allen shared the following message with his close friends and family: 

This morning, my wife of 54 years and 8 months took her last breath of air on planet Earth.

Norah Lee went to be with Jesus at 7:28 am, Easter morning. She had not been feeling well for some time. Her family all spent the night with her last night at Vanderbilt Hospital. We took time singing with and to her, telling her stories, and loving her every second that God let us share her here on Earth.

Norah Lee Allen, Duane Allen; Photo Provided
Norah Lee Allen, Duane Allen; Photo Provided

Jamie, Dee, and I would like to thank you all for your love and prayers. We have been at her bedside for over nine weeks.

We would like to thank Donna, Ashley, Ginger, GiGi, and Mindy for helping stay some nights with her.

We would like to thank the doctors, nurses, medical workers, and specialty staff who did everything they could to help Norah Lee.

The GRAMMY Award-winning band later shared a heartfelt message on social media.

“All of OAK RIDGE BOYS nation mourns the loss of Norah Lee Allen. We have lost the matriarch of our family. The sweetest soul that any of us have ever known. Please keep ACE and the family in your prayers… UNTIL THE PROMISED DAY …,” they collectively wrote.

Norah Lee Allen, Duane Allen; Photo Provided
Norah Lee Allen, Duane Allen; Photo Provided

Duane, who wed Norah Lee on September 22, 1969, later revealed that Norah Lee’s funeral will be held in two locations: Tuesday, April 2 at First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee with visitation taking place between 12-2 pm and a service at 2 as well as Wednesday, April 3 at Stuart’s Chapel in Lewisburg, Kentucky

With visitation from 1-2 pm and a service at 2. He said her burial would take place immediately following the funeral on Wednesday. 

Growing up in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Norah Lee was also a singer and formed a trio with her sisters called The Stuart Sisters Trio. It was formed by their father when she was just 3 years old. The family of gospel singers traveled around the country, performing at concerts, revivals, conventions, churches, and more for nearly 17 years. 

In 1968, Norah Lee landed a job with the country gospel group Chuck Wagon Gang. This role introduced her to the music industry and within two years, she was hired by Benson Publishing Group in Nashville where she undertook various responsibilities ranging from secretarial duties to contributing background vocals during studio recordings. During this time, she contributed background vocals to projects by artists such as Conway Twitty. 

Norah Lee Allen, Duane Allen; Photo Provided
Norah Lee Allen, Duane Allen; Photo Provided

By 1975, Norah Lee had embarked on her professional musical journey, initially starting as a part-time fill-in in the Grand Ole Opry Band. By 1980, she had transitioned into a full-time role as a member of the Grand Ole Opry band, specializing in background vocals. The group, who became known as Norah Lee and the Carol Lee Singers, and later the Opry Staff Singers, mastered numerous songs each night and delivered stellar performances to enthusiastic audiences at the Opry, as well as to viewers and listeners worldwide via television and radio broadcasts.

For more than five decades, Norah Lee shared the Opry stage with iconic country music artists, including Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Garth Brooks, Olivia Newton-John, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Minnie Pearl, Trisha Yearwood, Charlie Daniels, Martina McBride, and Loretta Lynn, among many others. 

She was a member of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and a cherished member of the Nashville music community. 

Norah Lee is survived by her husband, Duane Allen, her two children, Jamie Allen (Paul) Martin and Dee Allen, and her four grandchildren, March, Kell, Texas, and Tallant Martin. 

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.