Today I tell about a young woman who died more than thirty yearsago. Her name was Virginia Patterson Hensley. No one but her familywould remember that name. The world remembers her as Patsy Cline.
That song is called "Walkin' After Midnight." It was PatsyCline's first big hit record. She recorded it innineteen-fifty-seven. It became number three on the list of countrymusic hit recordings and number twelve on the list of most popularmusic.
Patsy had worked for many years to make that first successfulrecord. She began singing when she was a young girl in her home townof Winchester, in the southern state of Virginia.
Patsy sang anywhere she could. She sang at weddings and dances.She sang at public eating places for eight dollars a night. Thosewho knew her said she worked hard to improve her singing.
In nineteen-fifty-four she won a country music competition nearher home. She was twenty-two years old. She was asked to appear on acountry music television program in Washington D-C. She also sang onradio programs in the Virginia area and recorded some records.
In nineteen-fifty-seven, Patsy Cline appeared on a nationaltelevision show in New York. It was on this program that millions ofpeople first heard her sing. She sang "Walkin' After Midnight," asong she had recently recorded. Her appearance on the televisionprogram helped make that record a major hit.
Patsy continued to record more songs. Within two years she hadanother major hit. It was called, "I Fall to Pieces." By this timePatsy's voice had already become something special. She had learnedto control not only the sound but the feelings expressed in hersongs. It was the slow, sad love songs that her fans enjoyed most,songs like "I Fall to Pieces."
(MUSIC) Anncr: Patsy Cline's recording of "I Fall to Pieces"became her first number one country music hit. It was also a hitwith fans of popular music. Patsy was a major star. She also hadbegun performing at the country music theater, the Grand Ole Opry inNashville, Tennessee.
Those who knew her after she became a recording star say PatsyCline was a very good friend. She liked to help young musicians.Later, many of these young musicians became important starsthemselves.
One of Patsy's biggest hit songs also helped two of these youngmusicians become known. The song is called, "Crazy." It was writtenby an unknown musician who later became a major country music star.His name is Willie Nelson.
If you listen carefully to Patsy Cline's recording of "Crazy,"you can hear the beautiful piano playing of another young musician,Floyd Cramer. He also became a major recording star. Listen to Patsyand Floyd perform Willie Nelson's song, "Crazy."
Anncr: on March sixth, nineteen-sixty-three, Patsy Cline waskilled in the crash of a small airplane. She was only thirty yearsold. She was flying home to Nashville. She had taken part in aspecial concert in Kansas City to raise money for the family of acountry music radio performer who recently had died.
Patsy Cline was buried near her home town of Winchester,Virginia. Thousands of people came to her funeral. Ten years afterher death, she became the first woman performer elected to theCountry Music Hall of Fame.
In nineteen-eighty-five, Hollywood producers made a movie aboutthe life of Patsy Cline. It was called "sweet dreams. " Popularactress Jessica Lange played Patsy. No one really could sound likePatsy Cline. So the producers used her old records in the movie.Mizz Lange moved her mouth so she appeared to be singing.
People who had never heard of Patsy Cline saw the movie andenjoyed her singing. They began buying her records. Today, herrecords still sell thousands of copies each year as new fansdiscover her.
We leave you with a song Patsy Cline recorded only a month beforeshe died. It sounds almost as though she was singing in SpecialEnglish. The song is called "Faded Love."
Anncr: this Special English program was written and directed byPaul Thompson. I'm Dick Rael. Join us again next week for anotherPeople in America program on the Voice of America.