The Maryland-Virginia area has produced a number of entertainment celebrities over the years. Just last week, I posted about Arthur Godfrey, a star in early television whose name is rarely recognized today. There was another tremendous star that rose out of the region in the 1950s. This star still shines bright, almost fifty years after her tragic death in 1963.
She was born on September 8, 1932 in Winchester, Virginia. In her early teens, she began singing locally on the radio, in clubs and at special events. By the mid-1950s, she was singing with a young Jimmy Dean on a popular country music show broadcast from Washington. A year after her network television appearance on The Grand Ole Opry, she auditioned for the nationally popular show, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. The public loved her. Godfrey loved her. He made Patsy Cline a star.
Read all you want about Cline, but the best way to know her is to listen. The voice said it all. The ten minutes of music that follows is some of the best country-pop crossover and early Nashville sound one can hear. It consists of three songs, her first hit, "Walkin' After Midnight" (1957), followed by "I Fall to Pieces (1961), and "Crazy" (1961), her signature song.
Never met Patsy. Never knew anyone who did. But I did grow up with her music often hearing it over the radio all day at our family's summer haunt in Burlington, West Virginia. The village was on U.S. 50, just a dozen ridges and forty miles
west of her first home in Gore, Virginia. Maybe a bit far to claim her as your own, but still close enough to make one proud of a country kid who made it big. And we're still crazy for her after all these years.
Image source: Les Leverett, WSM Studios, Nashville, 1963;