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Cyndi Lauper, Ray Charles, more stars who made the switch to country music

"Detour" new album by Cyndi Lauper from Rhino Records, May 2016. Credit: Rhino Records

Cyndi Lauper is finally showing us her true colors, as a fan of country music.

With her latest album, “Detour,” which dropped Friday, she’s taken a turn down a country road with her covers of Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight” and “I Fall to Pieces,” Guy Mitchell’s “Heartaches by the Number,” Skeeter Davis’ “The End of the World” and more. Joining her on this musical path are Willie Nelson, Jewel, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss for duets.

Lauper’s not the first artist to make an unexpected crossover into country. These five others made the leap first, and for the most part, to great acclaim.

RAY CHARLES Fewer artists have been as successful as this soul man in making the transition to country. In 1962, he released the albums “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music” — volumes 1 and 2 — which included his megahit “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”

THE BYRDS The L.A. rockers made a turn, turn, turn to country with their 1968 album “Sweetheart of the Rodeo,” which included a cover of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.” Columbia Records advertised the album with the slogan “This Country’s for the Byrds.”

TOM JONES It’s not unusual that the man with the swiveling-est hips since Elvis turned to country. Some of his early hits, like “Green, Green Grass of Home,” had a Nashville flavor. In 1978, with the album “The Country Side of Tom Jones,” the wailer from Wales embraced the genre head-on with his versions of “Streets of Laredo” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

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ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS Everyone’s favorite animated singing rodents followed up their smash 1980 album, “Chipmunk Punk,” with the country release “Urban Chipmunk” the following year. Alvin, Simon and Theodore put a high-pitched twang on, among others, “On the Road Again,” “I Love a Rainy Night,” “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and “Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Chipmunks.”

DARIUS RUCKER The lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish blew off rock and R&B in 2008 and turned out “Learn to Live,” his first of several country albums. In October 2012, Rucker really arrived in the world of country — he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry after being invited to join by Brad Paisley.

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