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Hillbilly Maidens, Okies, and Cowgirls: Women's Country Music, 1930-1960 (Music in American Life) (Paperback)

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From the 1930s to the 1960s, the booming popularity of country music threw a spotlight on a new generation of innovative women artists. These individuals blazed trails as singers, musicians, and performers even as the industry hemmed in their potential popularity with labels like woman hillbilly, singing cowgirl, and honky-tonk angel.

Stephanie Vander Wel looks at the careers of artists like Patsy Montana, Rose Maddox, and Kitty Wells against the backdrop of country music's golden age. Analyzing recordings and appearances on radio, film, and television, she connects performances to real and imagined places and examines how the music sparked new ways for women listeners to imagine the open range, the honky-tonk, and the home. The music also captured the tensions felt by women facing geographic disruption and economic uncertainty. While classic songs and heartfelt performances might ease anxieties, the subject matter underlined women's ambivalent relationships to industrialism, middle-class security, and established notions of femininity.

About the Author

Stephanie Vander Wel is an associate professor of music at the University at Buffalo.

Praise For…

A PopMatters Best Non-Fiction Book of 2020
"Essential reading for understanding the musical and cultural conditions from which [bluegrass] sprang." --Bluegrass Unlimited

"Fascinating . . . For anyone with a serious interest in the topic this is a book which can be very highly recommended." --Old Time News

"Recommended." --Choice

"An exciting glimpse into how the field has matured well beyond its early focus on lyrical analysis and biographical portraits of important or forgotten figures." --PopMatters

"Interesting points about country music, the culture it grew from, and the culture it influenced. " --Shepherd Express

"The genre’s history combined with the sociology and demographics make for a serious but entertaining read, with the nostalgic echo of the melodies and lyrics embedded on every page." —

”Women’s struggle for inclusion is one of the biggest stories in country music today. Vander Wel’s rich history shows how female artists fought for a voice and made it central to country’s stories of gender, class, and migration in mid–twentieth-century America.”—Nadine Hubbs, author of Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music

"Required reading for anyone who takes their country music seriously." --Country Music People

”Vander Wel sheds important new light on the ways that women in country music have deployed their singing voices and theatrical skills to create female spaces and identities in country music.”—Travis D. Stimeling, author of Cosmic Cowboys and New Hicks: The Countercultural Sounds of Austin's Progressive Country Music Scene

"An excellent analysis of Rose Maddox, Patsy Montana, and Kitty Wells, among others, and their innovative ways of negotiating an industry that hemmed them in as cowgirls or honkytonk angels." --No Depression

Product Details
ISBN: 9780252084959
ISBN-10: 0252084950
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Publication Date: February 26th, 2020
Pages: 272
Language: English
Series: Music in American Life
ABA Admin Product Details
Data Source: ONIX
Created At: 9/29/2019 10:07am
Last Updated At: 1/15/2022 10:02pm