Ever since he was a young tyke, Donnie Sneed’s world has revolved around music. There’s been plenty of other things to keep him busy, but music is his world. These days, however, God even beats out music.
Donnie has been diagnosed with throat cancer and the outlook, according to the doctors, isn’t good. If Donnie has anything to do with it, he’ll put his trust in a higher power any day of the week.
“I tell the Lord, ‘I’ll just preach until you’re done with me.’ I’m not going to let man shut me down,” he said.
The doctors have told him with their treatment he would probably lose his jawbone and teeth. So, Donnie is going the alternative route - watching for guidance in treatment, eating well and putting his confidence in God, sharing his faith with all who will listen. It hasn’t always been that way.
Born in West Virginia, the middle of three boys, he sang in churches way before he hit the road with his family at 10 years old.
“We had one of the very first buses that was converted into a motor home back in the ‘50s,” Donnie said.
The boys made up the Sneed Band with dad playing rhythm guitar. Eventually Donnie had other bands where he played the variety of instruments he learned so young - accordion, keyboard, bass and acoustic guitar and trumpet.
“I had a top ‘40s group for quite a few years in Canada,” he said.
Since his entertaining was in the evenings, during the day Donnie would learn other sports — bowling, golfing, pool — each one he mastered and then taught them so others could master them as well. He even received his second level black belt in martial arts.
Twelve years into touring he met a young lady name Shirley. It probably was love at first dance. Her parents knew she would marry Donnie as Donnie’s parents knew he would marry Shirley. Within two months of meeting they were wed.
“She was just a good lady,” said Donnie. “She’s still a great lady — two boys and 12 grandchildren later.”
Though life was good, he still had a nudge that he should be doing more for God.
“I fought the Lord my whole life about preaching,” he said. “My granddad was a pastor and I’ve heard the Word my whole life.”
There was that day in Branson, when he told his wife — That was it. He didn’t think God wanted them there anymore. Right after saying that the phone began ringing off the hook and in no time at all he was booked up, mainly in churches.
He loves taking his comedian abilities into churches and his other venues, making people laugh.
“I know when they’re going through any kind of problem, like what I’m going through, that when they’re laughing at a skit — for those few minutes — they’re not thinking about their problems,” Donnie said. “Besides, the doctors will tell you — people that are laughing and people that are prayed for heal faster than anyone. They don’t understand it but I do.”
Following many suggestions from pastors that he should be preaching, he finally gave in and started preaching back in ‘99. Now the scriptures flow out of him like honey.
“I memorize it,” he said. “From singing and doing comedy all my life I’m used to it so it’s easier for me to do.”
Donnie has been spreading his version of the good news for years now — mixing music, laughter and love to heal broken hearts and raise sunken spirits.
Now he needs help and Harry Hazzard has put together a benefit for Donnie, to let all those Donnie helps, give back. The fundraiser will be Thursday, Feb. 26, in Pharr, at the International Convention Center, Hwy. 281 north of Sioux Road. It will start at 10 a.m. and go until 4 p.m. About 15 different groups will be playing such as Vance Greek, Barbara Fairchild, Will Yancy, Del Puschert and Susan Hudson Carman emceed by “Tucker.” Donnie will even try to sing a bit and perform some of his comedy routines. Barbara Mandrell and her sisters, old family friends, have sent a Get Well wish via DVD which will be shown. Lunch will be available. Love offerings will pay your way in.
“It’s a lot different being on this end of it,” he said. “I’ve done one for the Rio Grande Children’s Hospital. It’s a real humbling experience to be on the other end of it.”
Home, to Donnie and Nancy, is where ever they park their bus. Singing in the Valley for 17 years, right now home is the Valley.
“I told the Lord, ‘I’ll try whatever I can try but what I can’t do I’m expecting you to do because I know what your word says. I’m putting my faith in your word.”