It has been more than three decades since the last appearance of country music songstress Bobbie Gentry on television. Since then, she left the limelight without a trace and her sudden disappearance rocked the country music world. But, 37 years later, since 1981, this country music legend comes back stronger than ever. From the eerie depths of mysterious vanishment, Gentry makes a return and releases a massive collection of both old and new songs.
Bobbie Gentry: Songstress of the ‘60s
Born Roberta Lee Streeter, Bobbie Gentry spent her early years in Chickasaw, a town near Woodland in Mississippi. She is a singer-songwriter who was one of the first female artists to compose and produce her own material.
Gentry was just 23 years old when she rose to fame with her timeless ballads. During the 1960s, she was one of the few females who have made an impact and whose songs hit the charts. In fact, during that time, she sold more than three million copies and topped the country, pop, rock, and easy listening charts.
However, while her career was skyrocketing, she mysteriously vanished without a trace. Her disappearance was as mysterious as the unknown item that Billie Joe McAllister threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge before taking his life. From then on, Gentry completely concealed herself from the public eye.
“Ode to Billie Joe:” Gentry’s Multiple Grammy-winning Hit
Penned and recorded by Gentry herself, “Ode to Billie Joe” was first released in 1967. It was a smash hit for the songstress as it peaked at no. 1 for every chart it enters. Also, Billboard ranked it the no. 3 Song of the Year in 1967. Truly, the success it had earned was massive as it generated eight Grammy nominations, resulting in three wins.
Furthermore, “Ode to Billie Joe” also made it to the Rolling Stones’ list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” and the “100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time” and Pitchfork’s “200 Best Songs of the 1960s.”
Taking the form of a first-person narrative, the song is a tale of a rural Mississippi family’s reaction to the news of Billie Joe McAllister taking his life. McAllister was a local boy to whom the narrator is familiar with. Moreover, the tune ends with the demise of the father. According to Gentry, “Ode to Billie Joe” speaks of indifference and unshared grief.
Gentry’s Comeback After 37 Years
For the first time since her departure from the limelight in 1981, Gentry is taking her steps back to fame. With her elusive recordings being released to the public, she debuted her full-featured boxed set on September 21st this year. It features all seven of her previously-released studio albums. A source has it that each of the previously-recorded album will be remastered and will be sold as an eight-disc set. The title of the said set would be The Girl from Chickasaw Country. For sure, it would again be not just a nationwide but also a worldwide hit.
Meanwhile, the record label has not expressed as to why they are choosing to release this long-forgotten material now. Also, it is not clear if Bobbie Gentry herself participated in its expected release. Whatever and however it is, fans are very excited for the comeback of a legend that was once lost. But now, she’s back!
Let us relive Gentry’s greatest hit, “Ode to Billie Joe:”
Billboard, Bobbie Gentry, Ode to Billie Joe