HER STORY: Hydock brings story of Audrey Sheppard Williams to life on stage

Published 9:02 pm Monday, October 14, 2019

Nationally acclaimed story performer Dolores Hydock stepped onto the stage of the We Piddle Around Theater Saturday night. She was there to tell the story of a young Pike County woman who became half of one of the most famous couples in country music history when she married country music legend Hank Williams.

In the audience were members of Audrey Sheppard Williams’ family including her niece, Jean Senn of Brundidge, and her granddaughter, Hilary Williams of Nashville, Tennessee.

Hydock never knew Audrey Sheppard Williams and had never even heard of Audrey when she was approached about writing and telling Audrey Sheppard Williams’ story for a Brundidge Historical Society Alabama Bicentennial event.

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Many stories have been written and told about Audrey Williams. Hydock found most of them cold, harsh and unforgiving.

But Hydock said, even then, tissue paper has two sides.

“Tonight, I am going to tell the other side of the story of Audrey Sheppard Williams,” she said.

For just over an hour, Hydock shared a very personal story of Audrey, a story as told by her daughter, Lycretia; her sister Linette; and her niece, Jean. At the close of the performance, Hydock left it up to the audience as to which side of Audrey’s story they believed, which side of the tissue paper was true.

Hilary Williams never knew her grandmother, but she heard the stories from within the glaring spotlight. On Saturday night, she listened with an open and appreciative heart to the stories from the other side of the tissue paper.

“Dolores told stories about my grandmother that I had never heard,” Hilary Williams said. “I didn’t know she had epilepsy.  And, I didn’t realize how young she was to have done what she did for him (Hank) – schedule appointments and make sure he kept them and make big deals with MGM. She had no fear. She knew what she wanted and she went out and got it.”

For Hilary Williams, Hydock’s story was validation that Audrey Williams did what she did, not for herself, but for Hank. That Audrey Sheppard Williams was ambitious and resourceful, kind and giving and loving and that she was very much loved.

Nashville song writer Bobby Tomberlin also listened intently to Hydock’s story.

“I held on to Dolores’ every word,” he said. “Her story of Audrey was such a gift. Audrey’s story could not have been told any better or in a better place. She did make deals for Hank with high-powered music executives but, in 1940, that was not what a 23-year-old woman was supposed to be doing. What drive, what ambition, what heart and so much love to give.”

Penny Williams of Dothan said Hydock closed the performance with the question of who will tell each of our stories.

“I think the true story of Audrey Williams is the one that was told by those who loved her, her daughter and her sister,” she said. “I hope my story will be told by those who love me. I think we all hope that.  Audrey Williams deserved to have her story told by those who loved her. Dolores Hydock did that beautifully.