A native of Taylortown, Texas, Duane (“Ace”) Allen had formal training in both operatic and quartet singing before becoming a member of the Oaks in 1966. He has written a book on the history of Gospel music and has an honorary doctorate from a Christian college.
Duane graduated from Paris Junior College, and then Texas A&M University at Commerce, Texas. He received a B.S. in Music from Texas A&M, studying with Metropolitan Opera stars Richard Webb and William Abbott. For his classical music degree, he concentrated on voice, piano, and composition. He has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from both Paris Junior College and Texas A&M. He and his wife Norah Lee underwrite a scholarship fund for Texas A&M University Department of Music students.
When he’s off the road, Duane likes to spend time at his farm in Hendersonville, Tennessee. The 72-acre farm features a menagerie of beef cattle, horses, burros, and Canada geese. A superb businessman, Duane is credited with keeping the Oaks on firm financial footing during their switch from Gospel to Country in the late 1970s. He also loves to find new music for the Oaks. In the past decade, he took on the role of co-producer. Duane, along with Michael Sykes, produced seven of the group’s last eight albums.
To relax and stay in physical shape, he walks 20-30 miles each week and works out with a personal trainer. He is also an avid basketball fan and enjoys shooting hoops whenever he gets the chance. Duane is an antique car buff. He has more than two-dozen classics in a collection that is housed in a museum he calls Ace On Wheels.
“It’s a great way to relax,” he says of the restoration process. “I get a lot of pleasure out of going down there and sanding and painting with no real sense of urgency.”
He and his wife Norah Lee raised two children, Jamie and Dee, and now enjoy spending time with their two grandsons, March and Kell, and two granddaughters, Texas LeeAnna and Tallant.