Clay Cooper is set to headline the first post-COVID “Branson Country USA” Friday night at Grand Country.

After several months away from the stage, radio waves and TV screens, “Branson Country USA,” a weekly radio and TV show calling the Grand Country Music Hall home, is set to return at 10:30 p.m. Friday with local entertainer Clay Cooper, star of “Clay Cooper’s Country Express” show at the Clay Cooper Theatre, headlining the return.

A native of Wylie, Texas, Cooper first took the stage at the Wylie Opry when he was 14, and continued to perform there until 1986. At age 16, he joined a children’s band out of Fort Worth, Texas, called “The Texas Goldminors.” The group moved to Branson to perform at the Ozarks Country Jubilee.

When Cooper turned 19, he left the “Goldminors” and joined the “Country Review Show,” and even spent time as part of “The Down Home Country Show,” the “Buck Trent Show” and the “Jim Owen Show.”

In 1994, one of the biggest shows to ever hit Branson opened up in the form of “Country Tonite.” Cooper spent nine years as lead vocalist and emcee.

He stayed at “Country Tonite” until 2004, when he joined “Paul Harris Live.” Soon after, a morning spot opened at the theater and Cooper and his wife, Tina, began to put together a show.

“Clay Cooper’s Country Express” was born, and since moving into what is now known as the Clay Cooper Theatre in 2010, Cooper and his cast of more than two dozen now headline one of Branson’s most popular and well-attended shows.

“Branson Country USA” is a weekly radio and TV show, featuring Mike Patrick and Jamie Haage as hosts, as well as the New South Quartet, David Ragan, Jon Drockelman, Mark McCauley, Luke Menard, female vocalists Jackie Brown and Melody Hart, and the Grand Band, known locally as the “Rhinestone Mafia,” which features steel guitarist Gene Mulvaney, keyboard player Michael W. Davis, bassist Larry Allred, drummer Rob Blackburn, guitarist Chad Cathell and fiddler Wayne Massengale.

Showtime is 10:30 p.m. Friday at the Grand Country Music Hall.

Next week’s “Branson Country USA” guests will see country music recording stars and Branson favorites Barbara Fairchild and Mary Lou Turner, followed by yet-to-be-announced guest June 26 and July 3, then the cast of “Comedy Jamboree” July 10.

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