Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Apr 2nd 2008 5:00PM by Laura Cantrell
1. Molly O'Day: A booster of the young Hank Williams, O'Day recorded several of his songs before Hank was famous. She thrived on rural radio's airwaves, appearing on dozens of stations across the Southeast under such stage names as Dixie Darlin' or the Mountain Fern. Her singing and banjo playing had a fire-and-brimstone edge and gospel fervor unmatched by anyone in country music today
2. Jean Shepard: At first she was a little bitty slip of a girl who whomped the bass fiddle and sang with a great big voice, conquering the airwaves and jukeboxes of the early 1950s with hits like 'Dear John.' She became a fixture of the Grand Ole Opry along with her husband, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and was widowed by the tragic plane crash that took his life and that of fellow Opry star Patsy Cline. But she persevered and is still belting out songs to Opry audiences on a regular basis.
3. Ola Belle Reed: Thought of more as a folk artist than a country star, Reed was a country archetype, the redheaded "banjo picking girl." She once turned down a gig working for Hall of Famer Roy Acuff, because she didn't want a man for a boss. But her writing is the thing, she penned some of the most evocative songs of Appalachian life that exist today.
4. Rose Maddox: Her family group, the Maddox Brothers and Rose, dominated California's airwaves in the 1940s and '50s, with Rose emerging as the group's supertalent. She schooled Buck Owens and Merle Haggard in how to sing honky-tonk music with soul, and deserves a place of honor wherever jukeboxes are playing.
5. Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerard: Well regarded in folk music circles, Dickens and Gerard broke a lot of barriers for women in the field of bluegrass by leading their own band and making influential records in the early 1970s. Their music has a haunting, timeless quality, as their voices bring ancient melodies into the present.