Cover for McCusker: Lonesome Cowgirls and Honky-Tonk Angels: The Women of Barn Dance Radio. Click for larger image

Lonesome Cowgirls and Honky-Tonk Angels

The Women of Barn Dance Radio

A collective biography of the women who shaped early country and western music

Popular between the two world wars, American barn dance radio evoked comforting images of a nostalgic and stable past for listeners beset by economic problems at home and worried about totalitarian governments abroad. Sentimental images such as the mountain mother and the chaste everybody's-little-sister "girl singer" helped to sell a new consumer culture and move commercial country music from regional fare to national treasure. Drawing on personal interviews and rich archival material from the Grand Ole Opry, Kristine M. McCusker examines the gendered politics of these images through the lives and careers of six women performers: Linda Parker, the Girls of the Golden West (Milly and Dolly Good), Lily May Ledford, Minnie Pearl, and Rose Lee Maphis.


"McCusker's work sheds a welcome light on a musical movement still in living memory for some but forgotten or never known by others."--Library Journal

"McCusker delves deep into the changing creations and perceptions of female country performers. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"In her engaging and exciting book, McCusker brings the women of barn dance radio to life. Lonesome Cowgirls and Honky-Tonk Angels is a fascinating story of how these women constructed their public images to showcase a virtuous, all-American character and support the sale of sponsors' products. The women's lively firsthand accounts are delightful!"--Casey Henry, professional bluegrass musician

"Both entertaining and perceptive, this sweeping study skillfully connects barn dance to the central narratives of American popular culture, touching on constructions of race and class in addition to those of gender, and placing barn dance in the context of new technologies, new business practices, and the expansion of consumer culture. McCusker's work requires us to reevaluate not just the role of women in the country industry, but the development of that industry as a whole, and will prove invaluable to any student of American cultural history."--Diane Pecknold, author of The Selling Sound: The Rise of the Country Music Industry


Kristine M. McCusker is an associate professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University. She is coeditor of A Boy Named Sue: Gender and Country Music.

To order online:
http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/84mdd7bx9780252033162.html

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
Air Castle of the South

WSM and the Making of Music City

Craig Havighurst

Sweet Dreams

The World of Patsy Cline

Edited by Warren R. Hofstra

Don't Give Your Heart to a Rambler

My Life with Jimmy Martin, the King of Bluegrass

Barbara Martin Stephens

Foggy Mountain Troubadour

The Life and Music of Curly Seckler

Penny Parsons

Live Fast, Love Hard

The Faron Young Story

Diane Diekman

The Never-Ending Revival

Rounder Records and the Folk Alliance

Michael F. Scully

Twentieth Century Drifter

The Life of Marty Robbins

Diane Diekman

American Music

Edited by Neil Lerner

Bluegrass Bluesman

A Memoir

Josh Graves

Music and the Moving Image

Edited by Gillian B. Anderson & Ronald H. Sadoff

Bean Blossom

The Brown County Jamboree and Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Festivals

Thomas A. Adler

Czech Bluegrass

Notes from the Heart of Europe

Lee Bidgood

Peggy Seeger

A Life of Music, Love, and Politics

Jean R. Freedman

Bill Clifton

America's Bluegrass Ambassador to the World

Bill C. Malone

In It for the Long Run

A Musical Odyssey

Jim Rooney

Pretty Good for a Girl

Women in Bluegrass

Murphy Hicks Henry