Helen Cornelius

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Helen Cornelius
Cornelius in 2012
Cornelius in 2012
Background information
Birth nameHelen Lorene Johnson
Born (1941-12-06) December 6, 1941 (age 79)
OriginMonroe City, Missouri
Years active1975–present
RCA Victor
Associated actsJim Ed Brown

Helen Cornelius (born Helen Lorene Johnson; December 6, 1941)[1] is an American country singer-songwriter and actress, best remembered for a series of hit duets with Jim Ed Brown, many of which reached the U.S. country singles top ten during the late 1970s and early 1980s.


Helen Cornelius was born in Monroe City, Missouri,[2] and was raised on a farm nearby. Her older brothers played in country bands, and she formed a singing trio with sisters Judy and Sharon.[2] Together they toured locally with the blessing of their father.[2] Subsequently, Helen began touring on her own with a backup band called The Crossroads.[2]

After completing high school, Cornelius wed and became employed as a secretary.[2] She began touring again at the end of the 1960s and signed with Screen Gems Music as a songwriter in 1970.[2] When the company went under, she sent a demo tape to Jerry Crutchfield, who offered her a contract with MCA Records; eventually she signed with Columbia Records, with whom she released two singles. In 1975, she signed with RCA Records; two further singles followed with little recognition.[2]

In 1976, she recorded a duet, "I Don't Want to Have to Marry You" with Jim Ed Brown;[1] it was a major success in America.[2] Further solo singles failed to take off, but her next duet with Brown, "Saying Hello, Saying I Love You, Saying Goodbye", was another smash, and the pair began playing on the TV show, Nashville on the Road.[2] She continued to record with Brown, releasing the hits "I'll Never Be Free", "If the World Ran Out of Love Tonight", "Don't Bother to Knock", "Lying in Love with You", and finally notching a solo hit with "Whatcha Doin' After Midnight Baby".[2] In 1981, after topping the U.S. country charts one last time with Brown with "Morning Comes too Early", Cornelius separated with Brown, and enjoyed moderate success as a solo artist, touring with The Statler Brothers and performing in an Annie Get Your Gun road show.[2] In 1988, she and Brown reunited for a nationwide tour.[2]

Cornelius opened Nashville South in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in the 1990s, where she performed with a house band nightly.[2] Early in the 2000s, she took a regular gig at the Jim Stafford Theater in Branson, Missouri. Most recently, Cornelius has been an active participant in the Country's Family Reunion series, which airs on RFD-TV.



Year Album Label
1975 Helen Cornelius Dot
1985 Helen Cornelius MCA

Albums with Jim Ed Brown[edit]

Year Album Chart Positions Label
US Country CAN Country
1976 I Don't Want to Have to Marry You 7 RCA Victor
1977 Born Believer 17
1978 I'll Never Be Free 29
1979 You Don't Bring Me Flowers 20 2
1980 One Man, One Woman 35
1981 Greatest Hits 47


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country CAN Country
1976 "There's Always a Goodbye" 91 I Don't Want to Have to Marry You
1978 "Whatcha Doin' After Midnight, Baby" 30 68 Singles only
1979 "It Started with a Smile" 68
1981 "Love Never Comes Easy" 42 40
1983 "If Your Heart's a Rollin' Stone" 70

Singles with Jim Ed Brown[edit]

Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country CAN Country
1976 "I Don't Want to Have to Marry You" 1 7 I Don't Want to Have to Marry You
"Saying Hello, Saying I Love You, Saying Goodbye" 2 1
1977 "Born Believer" 12 8 Born Believer
"If It Ain't Love by Now" 12 18
"Fall Softly Snow" 91 Single only
1978 "I'll Never Be Free" 11 27 I'll Never Be Free
"If the World Ran Out of Love Tonight" 6 7 You Don't Bring Me Flowers
"You Don't Bring Me Flowers" 10 8
1979 "Lying in Love with You" 2 3
"Fools" 3 14 One Man, One Woman
1980 "Morning Comes Too Early" 5 46
"The Bedroom" 24 26 Greatest Hits
1981 "Don't Bother to Knock" 13 48

Music videos[edit]

Year Video
1990 "Ask Any Woman"


  1. ^ a b Colin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Country Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 95/6. ISBN 0-85112-726-6.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Helen Cornelius | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved August 5, 2021.