Country Music Women

Country Music Women
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In November 2016, Dolly Parton became the first woman to receive the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Country Music Association. Sometimes, it seems hard for me to believe that in 2016, women are still achieving firsts! The occasion of her award provides me with the opportunity to write about women who changed the country music industry all of whom have been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Match the woman with her accomplishment:

____ 1. Discovered on a 1957 episode of Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts television show, many of her songs became both country and pop hits.

____ 2. The fourth of twelve children, she went to Nashville after high school to launch her country music career; her first number one hit was in 1971.

____ 3. Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1975, her down home persona and straw hat with its dangling $1.98 price tag were a fixture at the Grand Ole Opry for fifty years.

____ 4. The trio to which she belonged is credited with helping to birth the country music genre.

A. Minnie Pearl

B. Patsy Cline

C. Maybelle Carter

D. Dolly Parton

For more than 50 years, Minnie Pearl entertained as a country comedian at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Originally a dancer and then a dramatic coach, Pearl developed her routine in the Depression-era South as she promoted the touring theater company with which she was affiliated. By the late 1930s, her character was developed enough that in 1940 she was asked to audition for the Grand Ole Opry. She remained a fixture there with her straw hat and dangling $1.98 price tag until the 1990s. Pearl also appeared on television as a member of the country-themed show “Hee Haw” and achieved enough notoriety that she was featured on NBC’s “This is Your Life” program. She believed her popularity was due to people seeing her as a friend and not a show business act. Pearl was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1975.

A celebrated country singer, Patsy Cline grew up in Virginia and began playing the piano when she was eight. She discovered her passion for singing later, performing on the radio and at local singing contests in her free time; she had dropped out of school at sixteen so that she could work to support her family. In 1952, she joined a group and in 1954, she landed a recording contract. However, her efforts went fairly unnoticed until 1957 when she won the Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts show competition. The song she performed, “Walkin’ After Midnight”, then became both a pop and country music hit. Cline became a member of the Grand Ole Opry cast, recorded many hits, and worked to support other female artists. Her brilliant career was cut short by a tragic plane crash in 1963.

A guitar player and singer, Maybelle Carter began performing with the Carter Family in the 1920s. Growing up in western Virginia, Carter was the sixth of ten children of a musical family. She dropped out of school at fifteen to sing folks songs and play guitar with her cousin and her cousin’s husband (A.P. Carter). The Carter Family name was born when she married her cousin’s husband’s brother. Their big break came in 1927 when the trio traveled to Bristol, Tennessee and recorded for a musical talent scout who worked for the Victor record player manufacturer. Their second recording session in 1928 resulted in the huge hit “Wildwood Flower” released in 1929. Later, Carter sang with her daughters in a group called Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters which sang on the Grand Ole Opry radio show. One of her daughters, June Carter would marry Johnny Cash. The Carter Family was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously in 2005 in recognition of their significant role in birthing country music through the transformation of folk songs.

The fourth of twelve children, Dolly Parton grew up in one-room cabin without running water in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. By the age of ten, she was performing professionally and made her debut at the Grand Ole Opry at the age of thirteen. After she finished high school, she headed off to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue her country music career. In 1967, she partnered with Porter Wagoner which helped her land a recording contract with RCA Records. Her first number one hit “Joshua” was released in 1971. Other number one hits followed both on the country and on the pop charts. A Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Parton has performed in movies and opened a theme park in Tennessee, Dollywood. A recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors, Parton was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women. These women who changed the country music industry are among the more than 850 women profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. I am proud to tell women’s stories and to write them back into history.

(Answers 1-B, 2-D, 3-A, 4-C)

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