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September 14

Meet “Radio Chin-Up Girl:” Jenny Lou Carson

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Everybody, lend me your ears for this enchanting video of Jealous Heart by Jenny Lou Carson.

Have you ever heard of Jenny Lou Carson? Perhaps not? If yes is your answer, then let me tell you more about her.

Jenny’s real name was Virginia Lucille Overstake. She was an American country music singer-songwriter and the first woman to write a No. 1 country music hit. From 1945 to 1955 she was one of the most creative songwriters in country music.

Lucille was born in Decatur, Illinois. She was raised in Decatur in modest surroundings with five other siblings. She learned to work early in life and was expected to do chores around the house. Her father had a strict, no-nonsense personality who instilled a strong work ethic and a fierce win-at-any-cost sense of competition in his children. In her adult life, she rarely spoke of her early days to any of her friends or business associates, other than to occasionally remark, “You don’t need friends if you’ve got your family with you.”

At the age 17 in 1932, she performed with her sisters Evelyn and Eva Alaine (AKA: Judy Martin) Overstake as the Three Little Maids on WLS’s National Barn Dance in Chicago. This was the beginning of her professional music career.  Carson also performed briefly as Winnie in the trio Winnie, Lou, and Sally (WLS). The Overstake sisters also performed as The Little Country Girls.

a.k.a Lucille Lee

From 1938 to 1939 she recorded under the name Lucille Lee with the Sweet Violet Boys, also known as The Prairie Ramblers.

It was in September 1939 when she took the name Jenny Lou Carson while fashioning herself as a 20th-century Annie Oakley. She became an expert sharpshooter and learned to spin a rope and manipulate a bullwhip. She toured the state of Texas putting on her cowgirl show and singing with her partner Texas Tommy.

During World War II she wrote popular songs about soldier boys and home. She was known as the “Radio Chin-Up Girl” and received lots of fan letters from servicemen and their families.

Jenny Lou Carson penned “Jealous Heart” for Tex Ritter, a song that stayed on the hit charts for 23 weeks in 1945, and “You Two-Timed Me One Time Too Often”, the first top country hit written by a woman, which stayed at No. 1 on the country chart for 11 weeks in 1945.

Songwriter

Carson wrote a great many songs for a number of country music stars such as Roy Acuff, Eddy Arnold, Ernest Tubb and Red Foley, who had married her sister Eva. She co-wrote with Al Hill, a pseudonym used by Fred Wise, Kathleen Twomey, and Ben Weisman the 1954 popular hit “Let Me Go, Lover!”, first performed by 18-year-old Joan Weber and subsequently recorded by Hank Snow, Teresa Brewer, Peggy Lee, Patti Page, and Sunny Gale.

Her song catalog contains over 170 songs which have been professionally recorded by more than 180 artists.

In 1971 she was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

That was impressive for a woman to achieve especially for that era. I’m sure that she was the envy of a lot of women but at the same time, an inspiration for women empowerment.


Tags

jealous heart, jenny lou carson, radio chin up girl


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