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Patsy Montana

Patsy Montana was the first woman in country music to have a million-selling single -- 1935's "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart" -- and was a mainstay on the National Barn Dance on Chicago radio station WLS for many years. She might also have been country music's first female session musician. In the '30s and '40s she was the sweetheart of many a movie cowpoke, appearing in numerous western films, and her success encouraged the traditionally male-oriented country music business to welcome and respect the scores of female performers that followed her.

Patsy Montana was born Ruby Blevins in Hot Springs, AR, the 11th child and first daughter of a farmer, and she attended schools in President Bill Clinton's hometown of Hope. She was influenced early on by the music of Jimmie Rodgers, and as a child she learned to yodel and play organ, guitar, and violin. Dropping out of the University of Western Louisiana, she moved to California around 1930 with her older brother and his wife. Montana won a talent contest there and began appearing on a local radio station as "Rubye Blevins, the Yodeling Cowgirl from San Antone" (she thought the added "e" brought sophistication to her image). Appearing on station KMIC with western-music star Stuart Hamblen, she joined with two other female singers to form a group called the Montana Cowgirls. The presence of champion yodeler Monty Montana on the show inspired her to take Montana as her own last name, and Hamblen suggested the first name of Patsy because one of the other singers in the group was named Ruthie -- the names Ruby and Ruthie sounded too similar on the radio.

In 1932 she returned to Arkansas for a visit and performed briefly on Shreveport, LA, radio station KWKH. Those performances caught the attention of Shreveport recording star, Jimmie Davis, who would go on to record "You Are My Sunshine" but at the time was in the midst of a series of often risqué blue-yodel recordings for the Victor label. Montana backed Davis on several recordings and then was given the chance to make a few of her own; her debut record, released in 1933, included "When the Flowers of Montana Are Blooming."

In 1933, Montana headed for Chicago to see the Century of Progress World's Fair and to audition at WLS. She got acquainted with a string band called the Kentucky Ramblers and signed on as the group's vocalist as it changed its name to the Prairie Ramblers to fit the increasingly cowboy-oriented programming at WLS. Soon she was a regular on the National Barn Dance, the variety show that at the time was the Grand Ole Opry's biggest competitor and helped launch the careers of various western film stars. Despite her experience with the raunchy Davis, Montana had to leave the room when the Prairie Ramblers recorded some off-color numbers of their own under the name the Sweet Violet Boys. But she was at the microphone in 1935 to record the peppy polka-rhythm "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart," which married the new dance energy of country music to a perfect set of Hollywood cowboy (or cowgirl) images. Recorded in New York on the ARC label, it became her signature song, but it was not her only hit; others included "Rodeo Sweetheart," "Montana Plains," and "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Dream." In 1939, she made her full-length feature film debut with Gene Autry in Colorado Sunset.

Montana moved to the Decca label in 1941, releasing a dozen singles during the war years. After a stint on the ABC radio network as leader of a program called Wake Up and Smile in 1946 and 1947, she returned to Arkansas to live on a farm with her husband, Paul Rose, and their two children, appearing on the radio daily in Hot Springs and many Saturdays on the Louisiana Hayride. Later she and her husband moved back to California. Over the years, Montana remained active in the music industry, appearing on many country music shows and continuing to record. In 1964, she cut a live album at the Matador Room in Safford, AZ; among her backing musicians was a young guitarist named Waylon Jennings. In the '80s and '90s, she recorded albums (several of them gospel) for a number of independent labels before her death on May 3, 1996. ~ Sandra Brennan and James Manheim
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The History Of American Country & Western Music Vol. 1 With Classic Songs From The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, And Hank Williams

2. The Prisoner's Song

3. Wildwood Flower

4. Blue Yodel No. 9

5. I Want To Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart

6. Can The Circle Be Unbroken

7. Wabash Cannonball

10. Walking The Floor Over You

11. There's A Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere

12. The Cattle Call

13. Pistol Packin' Mama

14. Smoke On The Water

15. Shame On You

16. Jole Blon (Pretty Blond)

17. Tumbling Tumbleweeds

18. New Spanish Two Step

19. Blue Moon Of Kentucky

20. I'll Hold You In My Heart (Til I Can Hold You In My Arms)

21. Tennessee Waltz

22. Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette

23. One Has My Name

24. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

25. Foggy Mountain Breakdown

x

Track List: Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: Classic Yodeling Country

1. In The Jailhouse Now

4. Blue Yodel #2 (My Lovin' Gal Lucille)

10. Blue Yodel No. 4 (California Blues)

11. Blue Yodel No. 5

12. A Yodeling Hobo

13. Yodelin' Mountaineer

14. Gonna Quit My Rowdy Ways

15. The Arizona Yodeler

17. You Gotta Go To Work

18. The Devil's Great Grandson

19. Cowboy Night Herd Song

20. Will There Be Any Yodelers In Heaven?

21. Rockin' Yodel

23. Yodeling Mule

24. Mule Skinner Blues

25. Lonesome Yodel Blues

26. I Want To Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart

28. T For Texas

x

Track List: San Antonio Rose - Chet Atkins & Friends

1. I'm Moving On

2. Alabama Jubilee

3. You'll Die A Thousand Deaths

4. A Cowboy Ought To Be Single

5. Wabash Connonball

6. Bouquet Of Roses

7. Steel Guitar Rag

8. Shine On Rocky Mountain Moonlight

9. Smokey Joe's Barbecue

10. Roses Are Red

11. San Antonio Rose

12. That's All Right, Mama

13. Hot Diggity Dog

14. A Cat Has Nine Lives

15. You Played On My Piano

x

Track List: 32 Golden Memories From The Golden Years Of Country Music Vol. 1

1. Send Me The Pillow You Dream On

2. Walking In The Dark

3. Nobody's Business

5. That's When She Started To Stop Loving You

8. I Found My Girl In The U.S.A.

10. Why Baby Why

14. I Know You're Married But I Love You Still

18. Tennessee Rag

20. Bonaparte's Retreat

22. Model T And The Train Race

23. It's Better To Know

24. Happy Child

27. Wabash Cannonball

28. I'm An Old Pipeliner

30. Private Lee From Tennessee

31. Down By The River

x

Track List: 16 Biggest Country Hits Of The 40's

1. Filipino Baby

2. Candy Kisses

3. Humpty Dumpty Heart

4. Jole Blon

5. Why Don’t You Haul Off And Love Me

6. Tennessee Waltz

7. Deck Of Cards

8. Blues Stay Away From Me

9. Doghouse Boogie

10. Chocolate Ice Cream Cone

11. Won't You Ride In My Little Red Wagon

12. I Love You So Much It Hurts

13. Mule Train

14. One Has My Name, The Other Has My Heart

15. Slippin' Around

16. Cowboy's Sweetheart

x

Track List: 32 Golden Memories From The Golden Years Of Country Music Vol. 2

1. I'm Ragged But I'm Right

2. There Goes My Love

3. I Fall To Pieces

4. Gonna Buy Me A Juke Box

5. Dark Hollow

7. Down By The Riverside

8. Under The Double Eagle

11. California Girls

12. Fiddlin' On The Guitar

13. Little White Washed Chimney

14. Long Time To Forget

16. I Know You're Married

17. Sick, Sober And Sorry

18. Wabash Cannonball

20. Astronauts Of Grinder's Switch

22. A Place For Girls Like You

23. Stop The World

24. Look On The Good Side

25. Flat Top

26. Give Me Forty Acres

27. Room Across The Hall

28. Where Do I Go From Here

30. Gotta Talk To Your Heart

31. The Boy From Alabama

32. Sunny Tennessee

x

Track List: All About Steve (Music From The Motion Picture)

1. Stuck To You

2. Desert Sunrise

3. Sugar

4. Everybody Got Their Something

5. I Will Follow Him

6. Do The Panic

9. Love Is Everywhere

12. I Want To Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart

x

Track List: Flowers In The Wildwood - Women In Early Country Music 1923-1939

2. Single Life

3. I Left Her Standing There

4. Flowers Blooming In The Wildwood

5. She Came Rollin' Down The Mountain

6. Just Another Broken Heart

7. Round-Up Time In Texas

8. We Are Climbing

9. My Man's A Jolly Railroad Man

10. My Poncho Pony

12. All The Good Times Are Past & Gone

13. Round Town Girls

15. Brother, Be Ready For That Day

16. On The Banks Of The Old Tennessee

17. Kentucky Miner's Wife (Ragged Hungry Blues) Pt.1

18. Go To Sleep My Darling

19. Walking In The King's Highway

20. My Loved Ones Are Waiting For Me

21. Little Birdie

24. Prayer

25. With My Banjo On My Knee Blues

x

Track List: American Yodeling

1. Yodeling' Mountaineer

2. Gonna Quit My Rowdy Ways

3. The Arizona Yodeler

4. My Clinch Mountain Home

5. The Devil's Great Grandson

6. Cowboy Night Herd Song

7. Worried Devil Blues

8. Will There Be Any Yodelers In Heaven?

9. The Nasty Swing

10. Yodeling Mule

11. Lost Lover Blues

12. The Yodelin' Teacher

13. Lonesome Yodel Blues

14. La Valse De Marriage

15. Lovesick Blues

16. I Wanna Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart

17. My Swiss Moonlight Lullaby

18. Mule Skinner Blues

19. Rockin' Yodel

20. Yodeling Fiddling Blues

21. Standin' On The Corner (Blue Yodel No. 9)

22. Sauerkraut

23. Yodeling Radio Joe

25. You Gotta To Go To Work

26. Sleep, Baby, Sleep

x

Track List: Cattle Call: Early Cowboy Music And Its Roots

1. When The Work's All Done This Fall

2. I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen

3. When The Cactus Is In Bloom

4. Rye Whiskey

5. Cattle Call

6. My Love Is A Rider (Bucking Bronco)

7. Blue Yodel Blues

8. Carry Me Back To The Lone Prairie

10. I Want To Be A Cowboy's Sweetheart

11. Little Joe The Wrangler

12. Lone Star Trail

13. Tying A Knot In The Devil's Tail

14. Way Out There

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Yo-de-lay-de - h o o o o o o ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

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