Page Two

Performing On The Friday Night Frolics

Why The Fascination?

By: Brian Michael Norris

People have often asked me, what's your deal with Patsy Cline? Why the fascination? I agree, it is unusual given that I was born 9 years after her death. But, growing up, my parents loved to play music, though, and most of it was country. While many of the LP's my parents owned were by contemporary artists of the '70's, I stumbled across an LP of Patsy Cline's that my Mom had when I was about 9 or so years old. I played that record over and over and over, and became mesmerized by her voice. Though I was only 9, I had heard many country female vocalists because, as I said, my parents played their music frequently. But, I had never heard a voice like Patsy Cline's. Technically speaking, Patsy's voice was a contralto, and her range extended from the E below middle C up more than two octaves to end on a bell-like A4. She had a very unique artists to how she performed her songs, utilizing growls, sighs, pauses, as well as melisma (stretching a syllable into several notes). She was actually discouraged from ever taking formal voice lessons, as those in the business felt it would alter her style.

And, so it began... I started collecting more of her music, then, slowly, VHS tapes about her life, and biographies. The more I learned the more I wanted to know. This was one fascinating woman. She became an inspiration to me for many different reasons. Aside from the gift of her voice and her ability to sing, which in and of itself is breathtaking, this woman whom I would never have the chance to meet would teach me many important principles. To summarize, here are a few of the life lessons I learned from Patsy Cline.
1. It Doesn't Matter Where You Came From.
What matters is what you do with what you have and where you go from here. Patsy grew up in a broken home on the wrong side of the tracks (the poor side) in Winchester VA. Her Father left the family when she was a teenager. Wallow in self-pity? That was not Patsy's style. Her style was to handle the cards dealt her. She got a job at a local drug store and at night her mother would take her around to local singing gigs for a few extra bucks. They'd get in sometimes around 3 AM. Then, she'd get up at 8 and start all over again.

2. If Someone Tells You That You Can't Do Something, Don't Stop.
Be persistent. When Patsy first traveled from Virginia to Nashville to audition at the Grand Ole Opry, she didn't even have enough money to stay in a hotel. She slept on a park bench with a friend. After her audition, the Opry told her she was not mature enough for their audience. She would return a few years later and be offered a permanent spot as a member of the Opry cast.

3. Don't Let Haters Bring You Down.
Because Patsy came from a broken home, and lived on the wrong side of town, many of those in Winchester shunned her. Nonetheless, every year she rode in the Winchester Apple Blossum parade with pride and she held her head high, even while many in the crowd booed her.

4. You Can't Judge A Book By Looking At The Cover.
Patsy was a spiritual person, but she didn't shove it in your face. Patsy demonstrated that you don't need to show others your religion or push it on them. And, you don't need to wear a nun's habit to be a spiritual person. Some, at the time, considered her wardrobe inappropriate, flashy or trashy. But, in Patsy's case, as is most often true, don't judge a book by its cover.

5. Listen To Your Momma, and You'll Be Fine.
Patsy had a very close relationship with her Mom, as do I. The cowgirl outfits that Patsy wore on stage were hand-made by her Mom. And, like my Mother, Patsy's Mother always encouraged her to do what she wanted and to pursue her dreams.

6. A Single Person Can Change the Course of History.
When Patsy was entering the Country Music sceme, it was a male-dominated industry. Most female artists were the wives of male artists. Patsy had only Patsy, and she had to fight hard. She worked hard, earned respect, then demanded it. She became the first female country artist to headline a Country music show, and earn equal compensation to her male counterparts.

7. You Don't Have To Do What Others Are Doing.
Do your own thing, and break the mold if it feels right. Patsy was a pioneer of the "Nashville Sound." Together with her producer, Owen Bradley, many of her songs crossed over into the Pop charts and she opened up a whole new audience for Country music.

8. Be Kind, Generous, and Remember Those Who Helped You.
Patsy was known as a very generous person, having helped Loretta Lynn with drapes for her new home in Nashville, and Dottie West with rent money. She helped the female singers just starting out getting their bearings with being in a male-dominated industry. She was known to give gifts to song-writers who wrote her songs that turned into hits. She was humble enough to know she wouldn't be where she was without other good people around her.

9. It's Quality, Not Quantity.
In her very short career, having died tragically in a plane crash at the age of 30, she had recorded just over 100 songs. However, that short career has earned her many awards and accolades in the 50 years since her death.

Some of the most outstanding awards are:
1973: First solo female country artist to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

1995: Grammy Award for Creative Contribution of Outstanding Artistic Significance to the Field of Recording.

1999: Patsy ranked #11 on the VH1 Cable TV countdown of the "100 Greatest Women in Rock". Yes ROCK!

1999: Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

2000: Patsy was named country radio's "Greatest Female Artist of the 20th Century" by Radio & Records Magazine.

2002: Patsy ranked #1 on the CMT cable TV countdown of the "40 Greatest Women in Country Music".
In addition, Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits album was listed in the 2005 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as having logged the most weeks on any music chart, for a release by a female artist in any genre of music. The album has also achieved Diamond status in the U.S., with certified sales of greater than 10 million copies.

"Crazy" is the number-one most played jukebox song of all time.

She has been considered the most influential female singer in the history of country music, and one of the most influential singers in recording history of any genre.
So, not so bad for a poor girl, from the wrong side of the tracks, who was booed by her own hometown, eh?

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

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