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Girls Of The Golden West

The opening round of biographical details in the story of the Girls of the Golden West sets the tone with names that seem properly ironic. Sisters Mildred and Dorothy "Dolly" Good were born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1913 and 1915, respectively (they later claimed Muleshoe, Texas as their hometown to bolster their cowgirl image. They grew up listening to cowboy songs from the Southwest, and wound up getting the credit for spreading this regional influence into the blend of what developed into country & western music. The sisters began their duo the way many talented children do -- by entertaining family and friends in the comfort of their home. And although this audience preferred the girls' versions of cowboy and western material, the sisters themselves personally preferred pop music. When Dolly was only 14, they made their professional debut on radio station WIL in St. Louis. Making their home near Chicago, the Girls of the Golden West appeared regularly on a variety of radio shows heard from Northern Canada to south of the Mexican border. Regular appearances on the Chicago radio station WLS' National Barn Dance began in 1933 and led to guest spots on Rudy Vallee's syndicated NBC show. The sisters were such a hit on the Vallee program that it led to them being offered their own weekly NBC program, and a recording contract followed posthaste. Dorothy Good took the lead on most of the solo passages and played guitar in a basic manner that worked suitably as an accompanying instrument. She did not try to play lead fills in the manner of Maybelle Carter, instead specializing in top-quality harmony parts and catchy yodeling. In the recording studio, the girls created a repertoire that consisted of about half newly composed ditties based on western themes. Then, there was a certain number of traditional cowboy songs from the realm of orally passed-on folk music, and the sessions were filled out with cover versions of pop standards they liked. What had always been a strong interest of the girls increased as their career went on, until the pop material started to take over more territory during their recording sessions. The Girls of the Golden West performed and recorded sporadically until Dorothy Good's death in 1967. Their discography includes three albums for the Fort Worth Bluebonnet label. In 1978, Sonyatone released a collection of their cowboy- and western-oriented material. ~ Eugene Chadbourne
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