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Molly O'Day & Lynn Davis

A pioneering vocalist whose soulful, gut-wrenching performances helped redefine the role of the female country solo artist, Molly O'Day's career was relatively brief, but her lasting influence has proven massive. Born Lois LaVerne Williamson on July 9, 1923, to a coal mining family living in a remote Appalachian community in eastern Kentucky, she spent her childhood enamored of cowgirl singers like Patsy Montana, Lulu Belle Wiseman, Texas Ruby Owens, and Lily May Ledford and eventually began singing and playing guitar in a string band with her brothers Cecil ("Skeets") on fiddle and Joe ("Duke") on banjo. In 1939, Skeets began playing on a radio station in Charleston, WV, and his sister soon followed, adopting the stage name "Mountain Fern." A year later, now under the name "Dixie Lee Williamson," she joined guitarist Lynn Davis' band the Forty Niners, and in 1941, she and Davis married.

Over the next five years, the Forty Niners extensively toured the South, building a substantial fan base along the way. By the time the group settled in for an extended stay in Louisville, KY, in 1946, the name "Molly O'Day" was firmly entrenched. While Davis and O'Day's duets were popular with audiences, it was her deeply felt solo performances of inspirational songs which had the biggest impact and which led writer/publisher Fred Rose to sign the singer to Columbia Records. There, O'Day performed a number of songs written by a young Hank Williams, whom she had already known from their days on the radio circuit; in fact, it was Williams who taught O'Day her best-loved song, "Tramp on the Street," one of eight tunes she cut during her first studio session in late 1946. Backed by Davis, her brother Skeets, bassist Mac Wiseman, and George "Speedy" Krise on the Dobro, the recordings gave a further boost to O'Day's surging popularity, but already she was having trouble coping with her success.

O'Day and Davis spent much of 1947 out of music, but in December of that year she returned to the studio, where she recorded her crowd-pleaser "Matthew Twenty-Four." She and Davis spent much of the next several years on the road, where she began performing religious material almost exclusively; in mid-1949, she cut another session, recording songs like "Teardrops Falling in the Snow," "Poor Ellen Smith," and Williams' "On the Evening Train." In the latter half of the year, O'Day suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized; although she did record again in 1950 and 1951, she largely turned her back on show business afterward, instead focusing on performing in churches. In 1954, Davis became an ordained minister, and in the decades following, the couple preached throughout the coal mining communities of West Virginia. O'Day did record for a few small gospel labels in the 1960s, and in 1973 she and Davis began hosting a daily gospel program on a West Virginia radio station. She died of cancer December 5, 1987. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Can't You Hear Me Callin' Bluegrass: 80 Years Of American Music

Disc 1

1. Soldier's Joy

2. Don't Let Your Deal Go Down Blues

3. White House Blues

4. Bill Mason

5. Cannon Ball Blues

6. D Blues

7. Keep On The Sunny Side

9. I'm Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes

10. Great Speckle Bird

11. Orange Blossom Special

12. Ida Red

13. Pretty Polly

14. Lonesome Old River Blues

15. Mule Skinner Blues

16. Wreck On The Highway

17. The Drunkard's Grave

18. Rocky Road Blues

19. Searching For A Soldier's Grave

20. Blue Moon Of Kentucky

21. Dust On The Bible

22. I Heard My Mother Weeping

23. Will You Be Loving Another Man?

24. Blue Grass Breakdown

25. It's Mighty Dark To Travel

Disc 2

1. Can't You Hear Me Callin'

2. Foggy Mountain Breakdown

3. Poor Ellen Smith

4. The Drunkard's Hell

5. The Lonesome River

7. The Fields Have Turned Brown

8. The White Dove

10. I'm A Man Of Constant Sorrow

11. I Wonder How The Old Folks Are At Home

12. Uncle Penn

14. When The Angels Rolled The Stone Away

15. Earl's Breakdown

16. Don't Get Above Your Raising

17. Are You Missing Me?

18. Why Did You Wander?

19. Flint Hill Special

20. I'll Go Stepping Too

21. Love And Wealth

22. 20 / 20 Vision

23. My Lord Keeps A Record

24. I Love The Hymns They Sang At Mother's Grave

25. Reunion In Heaven

Disc 3

3. Seven Year Blues

4. Get Down On Your Knees And Pray

5. Somebody Touched Me

6. Feudin' Banjos

8. Knoxville Girl

9. Once More

10. Twin Banjo Special

11. Gosh, I Miss You All The Time

12. You Don't Know My Mind

13. Rank Stranger

15. Foggy Mountain Top

18. She Left Me Standing On The Mountain

19. Sunny Side Of The Mountain

20. Just Joshing

23. Since Wedding Bells Have Rung

24. Rosalee

25. No More Goodbyes

26. The Ballad Of Jed Clampett

28. Rocky Top

29. Mountain Dew

30. Dueling Banjos

Disc 4

1. Turn Your Radio On

2. Black Mountain Rag (Soldier's Joy) (Live)

3. Pretty Boy Floyd

4. Bristol Steam Convention Blues

5. Farther Along

7. Can't You Hear Me Callin'

8. Cora Is Gone

10. Uncle Pen

11. Till The End Of The World Rolls Round

12. A Vision Of Mother

14. If I Could Be There

15. So Long, So Wrong

17. The Boy Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn

18. Little Maggie

19. Carrie Brown

20. Tortured, Tangled Hearts

21. Walls Of Time

22. Is The Grass Any Bluer

23. Daniel Prayed

24. Twelve Gates To The City

25. Soldier's Joy

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i love mollyo day

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