Women Who Rock: Patsy Cline

March is National Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating by sharing a lady we admire each weekday.

PATSY CLINE (1932-1963)

It is visceral; we have to stop and listen every time a Patsy Cline song comes on the radio. That smoky, silky, sultry voice pulls you in and makes you live the lyrics that she sings.

She was born Virginia Patterson Hensley on Sept. 8, 1932, in Winchester, Va., to Sam and Hilda Hensley. Though she had an unhappy childhood, the home appeared happy to others. Patsy was the “poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks.” Sadly, her father abandoned the family when Patsy was 15. Hilda supported the family with her sewing, becoming a master seamstress and making most of Patsy’s “cowgirl” costumes over the years. But Patsy ended up challenging the fashion of country music by ditching the gingham and cowgirl look for cocktail dresses and sequins. She was part of the changing face of country music in a time when Loretta Lynn was still only a coal miner’s daughter. But Patsy Cline wasn’t one to avoid looking back. She held her hand out to those who were struggling to make the dream happen, and gave them the hand up that they needed.

She was granted membership in the Grand Ole Opry simply by asking for it. And yet for all of her successes, there were failures: a failed marriage and contracts that were almost ruinous to her career. Yet she rose above it all. She was, after all, Patsy Cline.

Further Reading/Listening:

  • Patsy Cline: The Definitive Collection
  • Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline by Ellis Nassour and Dottie West
  • Remembering Patsy by Brian Mansfield
  • PatsyCline.com
  • Patsy Cline: The Lady, The Legend