Wanda Jackson - One of America's first major female country and rockabilly singers in the ‘50s, Wanda Jackson has successfully rejuvenated her career numerous times over the years. Now dubbed the “Queen of Rockabilly,” country artists including Pam Tillis, Jann Browne, and Rosie Flores have acknowledged her as a major influence. When she was 15, Jackson won a local talent contest in Oklahoma City which led to a regular radio show - and being discovered by country singer Hank Thompson. After charting a hit with Thompson’s band, she signed to Capitol Records in the mid-‘50s and stayed with the label for nearly two decades, charting both country and rockabilly songs. She was nominated for two Grammys, had a syndicated TV “Music Village,” and often played Las Vegas. After becoming a Christian in the early ‘70s, she released a string of gospel records. In the early '80s, her career was rekindled when she was “rediscovered” by rockabilly and country fans in the U.K. and Europe, and invited to play festivals. Rosie Flores invited Jackson to sing on her 1995 release “Rockabilly Filly” and to join her on tour. Jackson returned to the studio in 2010 with Jack White producing. The result,“The Party Ain’t Over,” a nod to her 1958 hit “Let’s Have a Party” (which was originally released by her one-time boyfriend Elvis Presley) brought her to national attention once again. Her latest release, “Unfinished Business,” is Jackson’s 31st studio release and marks the producing debut of singer/songwriter Justin Townes Earle.
Connie Smith - Dolly Parton once said, "There’s really only three female singers in the world: Streisand, Ronstadt and Connie Smith. The rest of us are just pretending." In June of 1964, Smith, who was raised near Hinton, WV, with 13 siblings, was signed to RCA Records by Chet Atkins. Her first recording session yielded the No. 1 hit "Once a Day." The song was the biggest country record in 1964 and earned Smith the honor of being named Billboard’s "Most Promising Female Singer of 1964." Over the next decade, Smith charted 10 Top 5 singles, nine Top 10 entries and 27 other chart hits. Smith subsequently joined the Grand Ole Opry and was nicknamed (by none other than Roy Acuff), "The Sweetheart of the Grand Ole Opry." Married to country star Marty Stuart, Smith put her career on hold for several years to concentrate on raising a family. Her new album, “Long Line of Heartaches,” is her 53rd release to date, her first since 1996 and only her second since 1978.
JD McPherson - Coming off a string of sold-out west coast shows and his national television debut on “Conan,” Oklahoma-based retro-revivalist JD McPherson is riding a wave that includes a four star review from Britain’s “Mojo” magazine for his debut, “Signs and Signifiers,” and hitting No. 1 on the Americana Radio chart. Hailing from Broken Arrow, OK, the visual artist dove head-first into old school R&B and self-directed a video of the single, “North Side Gal,” which has racked up more than 625,000 views. McPherson has been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and KCRW’s “Today’s Top Tune.”
Cordle - was born and raised on a
small family farm in eastern
Kentucky, not far from his childhood friend and neighbor,
musical prodigy Ricky Skaggs. Upon hearing Larry’s song, “Highway 40 Blues”,
Skaggs promised that he would one day record it. In the summer of 1983, it was
the number one song in the nation, helping to launch Larry’s songwriting career
and skyrocketing Skaggs’ already solid country music career. At last count,
Cordle’s songs have appeared on projects that have sold a combined total of
more than 55 million records, by artists such as Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent,
Garth Brooks, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Reba McEntire, Alan Jackson, Trace Adkins and many
others. He’s been awarded song of the year by the International Bluegrass Music
Association on two separate occasions, garnered two Grammy nominations for best
bluegrass album, received nominations for vocal group and instrumental group, and
landed #1 slots on the Bluegrass and Americana charts. His latest album is Pud Marcum's Hangin'
Pokey LaFarge & the South City Three - From St. Louis, Missouri, Pokey LaFarge & The South City Three's creative mix of early jazz, string ragtime, country blues and western swing rings true and fine, making them among the most innovative of all the purists performing American roots music today. A lot of performers are content to play old material, reworking the tunes to give them new life or to stamp them with personal style. But this group, led by guitar-plucking troubadour Pokey LaFarge, achieves timelessness with original songs while honoring the legendary artists of yesterday through covered tunes.Accompanied by The South City Three, Pokey uses his booming voice as an instrument with an incredible range; one moment he shouts a line and the next he croons above his parlor guitar. In 2009, Pokey began working with The South City Three, a trio made up of fellow St. Louis musicians Joey Glynn, Adam Hoskins and Ryan Koenig.
This episode is scheduled for NPR distribution on Friday November, 2 2012. A complete list of stations that carry Mountain Stage can be found at mountainstage.org .