She is well known in the community for her singing and her dedication to serving God. She opens the World Chicken Festival each year with her original song, "Ain't No Spring Chicken Anymore."

But London resident Peggy Inks said her most recent award is one of the dearest to her heart. Inks recently received the Music City Christian Fellowship (MCCF) recognition - the Candlelight Award.

Inks and her husband Don serve on the board of MCCF's Sunday Mornin' Country board and were planning to attend the gathering in Nashville last month as a board member. When she was randomly called up to the podium during the convention, she was presented with the very unexpected award.

"I never would have dreamed of getting this," Inks said. "I've won many awards for songs and my singing but I would never have dreamed this."

The award highlights Inks' life as a singer and as a Christian and the words on the award state: "For letting your light shine in a dark world" with reference to the Biblical scriptures of Matthew 5:16.

"That's what I try to do as a Christian, is shine my light," Inks explained. "I was shocked to get this award, and it was nice that there were so many celebrities there for the convention."

Those celebrities included country/gospel music performers Jeannie Seeley, Lulu Roman ("Hee Haw" fame), Charlie McCoy, Tennessee River Boys, Adam Warner, Irlene Mandrell and a special tribute to Roy Clark, co-host of the 1960s TV show, "Hee Haw". Those participating in that tribute were some of the former stars of the show and included Roman, Mandrell, McCoy, Diana Goodman, Ricki Page, Jeff Smith, Joe Babcock and Buzz Chambers.

While Inks has several awards for her songs, one of the most popular is the one she calls "The Chicken Song" that describes the process of aging and how it affects movement and memory. One of the lyrics in the song states: "I ain't no spring chicken anymore" and Inks ends the song with a cackle similar to that of a chicken.

"People always want me to sing that song. I sing it at the Chicken Festival every year and they wanted me to sing it at the MCCF," she said. "Everyone loves that song."

Inks is no stranger to performing, having grown up singing with her sisters as The Cooper Sisters. That group cut several 45 rpm records in the 1950s.

"We always loved to harmonize and would just go around places and sing," Inks said. "We started singing on WEZJ radio station in Middlesboro and we met Archie Campbell, who had us as guests on his TV and radio show."

Inks continued to pursue her singing career from her early childhood into adulthood. She won her first solo award as Peggy Inks at the New York State Country Gospel contest in 1980. When she wasn't singing, Inks followed her career as a lab technician while she and her husband reared their two daughters, Ethel Mae and Donna. She also kept her faith in God close to her and has attended Calvary Baptist Church since she and Don moved to London in the 1960s.

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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