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Female Performers in Country Music

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Female Performers in Country Music


During the early twentieth century, southern music began to be known by a somewhat more precise and diverse set of classificatory designations such as "country," "blues," and "jazz," Through the phenomenal development of the radio and recording technology, the music of the south rapidly became known throughout the nation. The contributions of early performers such as the great Jimmie Rodgers, Vernon Dalhart, Bob Wills, Milton Browne, the singing cowboys and many others are well documented. But where are the female musicians during the early development of country music, specifically during the 1920s and 1930s? In the "blues" field, the names of the legendary Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith and Ma Rainey are well known along with male performers such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, "Peg Leg Howell," and many others. In the opera, women had long held important places in the music and the same may be said of vaudeville. In earlier country music, female performers were much less prominent and their roles more muted. Furthermore, until recently,...


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...Cf Coltman, 1978:164).


3In the Summer of 1990, Patsy visited Murfreesboro and appeared as a surprise guest in my Elderhostel class on country music. She delighted us with a rendition of "I Wanna Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart" and graciously consented to an interview. Some of the material in this section is drawn from that interview. BSA


4Female performers are only beginning to compete in the songwriting arena and lag woefully behind in the music publishing business. They have made great strides, however, in the area of artist management.

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