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Finding Her Voice: Women in Country Music, 1800-2000 [Hardcover]

Mary A. Bufwack , Robert K. Oermann
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2003
From country's earliest pioneers to its greatest legends, this work documents the lives of the female artists who have shaped the music for over 200 years. Through interviews, photographs, and primary texts, this work weaves a complex tapestry of personalities and talent. It gets to the heart of the special bond female artists have with their audiences. People seeking to understand the context out of which mega-stars such as Shania Twain, Faith Hill, and the Dixie Chicks emerged should look no farther than this guide. Some of the women discussed include Dolly Parton, Wanda Jackson, Patsy Montana, Alison Krauss, Martha McBride, and Loretta Lynn.

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In their sweeping survey, anthropologist Bufwack and music writer Oermann detail an integral interconnection between these women and the music they nurtured and influenced, weaving together a single tale of working women and country music. . . . A lively story of struggle and ultimate survival.--"Billboard"

About the Author

Mary A. Bufwack is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in women's studies. Robert K. Oermann is a music journalist whose honors include the Country Music Association's Media Achievement Award.

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TO thirteen-year-old Emma Bell, the mist-shrouded Appalachian Mountain vales around her hometown were places of thrilling romance, of wild beauty, of escape from her stiff-necked Presbyterian home life. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Collaboratively compiled and expertly edited by cultural anthropologist Mary A Bufwack and music journalist Robert K. Oermann, Finding Her Voice: Women In Country Music 1800-2000 is an information-laden, 624-page compendium of women's contributions to country music down through the past two centuries. Black-and-white photographs enliven the pages of this astute, well-researched, artfully presented text. Finding Her Voice is a seminal work of music history scholarship and a superb educational text and resource which is especially recommended for American Music History academic reference collections and to dedicated country music fans.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astute, well-researched, artfully presented text Jan. 14 2004
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Collaboratively compiled and expertly edited by cultural anthropologist Mary A Bufwack and music journalist Robert K. Oermann, Finding Her Voice: Women In Country Music 1800-2000 is an information-laden, 624-page compendium of women's contributions to country music down through the past two centuries. Black-and-white photographs enliven the pages of this astute, well-researched, artfully presented text. Finding Her Voice is a seminal work of music history scholarship and a superb educational text and resource which is especially recommended for American Music History academic reference collections and to dedicated country music fans.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than I expected July 7 2009
By Peter Durward Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A female social historian and a male music journalist co-wrote this wide-ranging book, which traces the history of country music through its women. Well, nobody could write such a book without mentioning plenty of men along the way, but the story is definitely about the women. It begins in the nineteenth century and discusses every famous female country singer (and plenty of obscure ones) up to the year 2000, but there is far more to this book than that.

Because this book is about social history as well as country music, it reminds us of life as it used to be without tap water and without electricity. While men spent all day working on the farm or in the factory, women spent all day doing the housework. This included fetching water in buckets from the nearest well, among other chores that are long since consigned to history in the developed world. So it was that the kind of songs that women sang were often very different from the kind of songs that men sang. Over time, technology, wars and other developments changed everybody's lives.

Two world wars opened opportunities for women. In between, an economic depression, compounded by the dust bowl, caused mass-migration as people fled the impoverished southern states. All these developments and others became reflected in the music that women sang and recorded. The mass-migration that started in the thirties took country music all around America. Later, American troops took their music to wherever they served in he second world war including Europe, Australia and Japan. Social changes including women's liberation all made their mark on country music. In business generally, women had to fight hard to break down barriers, and country music reflects this. As women have penetrated male business bastions, they have attained important managerial and boardroom position in the country music business. The book suggests that Frances Preston is one of the most influential people in country music, or in any music. Maybe, but your average country music fan has probably never heard of her. Still, she deserves her place in this book.

As far as the music itself is concerned, every aspect of country music seems to be covered, including women raised on country music but who became successful pop singers, as well as outsiders who achieved varying degrees of success within country music. In the forties, it seems that there was an abundance of female country singers performing live, most famously Rose Maddox, but the male-dominated country music industry didn't give them much of a chance on record. Yet some of the most successful female pop singers of the era were raised on country, including the Dinning sisters, Patti Page, Dinah Shore, Kay Starr and Jo Stafford. To varying degrees, their country heritage shows in their recorded music. Margaret Whiting was the first outsider to make a big impact on country music, when she teamed up with Jimmy Wakely for a series of duets. Those duets had an impact that lasted long after Margaret and Jimmy stopped recording together. It seems that country music fans happily accepted Margaret at the time, but other outsiders were controversial. Olivia Newton-John made a big impact on country music for a time in the mid-seventies, but while she had plenty of supporters, others were hostile to say the least. All of these singers are discussed, though of course the women that have made their career in country music get more coverage.

All the big names that you would expect to find are discussed, but it is refreshing to read, however briefly, about some singers who I wouldn't necessarily have expected to get a mention, such as Sheila Andrews, Diana Trask, the Burch sisters and Dottsy. Female songwriters such as Cindy Walker, Susanna Clark and Rhonda Kye Fleming are also given due coverage, although Matraca Berg and Beth Neilsen Chapman only get a couple of brief mentions each in passing. The first edition of this book was published in 1993, when they were still establishing their reputations. The revisions for the second edition seem to focus mainly on the singers.

With a substantial bibliography as well as an index to the 500+ main pages, this book is a veritable goldmine of information. Any quibbles I have are minor, as this will be one of my most-referenced books for years to come.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing! Jan. 23 2010
By Mosca Marco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A wonderful book! The captivating story of women in country music (from the superstars to the forgotten names who recover in this book the merits they deserve) through the women's history of the last two centuries.
My congratulations to the authors for their work!
5.0 out of 5 stars book April 1 2014
By Mary J. Butler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you enjoy country music this is a book you will enjoy reading about how women found their way into a profession dominated by male vocalists. Good read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great glimpse at neglected country music her-story April 6 2013
By DJ Joe Sixpack - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Finding Her Voice -- Women in Country Music: 1800-2000"
Written by Robert K. Oermann and Mary A. Bufwack
(Country Music Foundation Press)

An invaluable book, outling the history of women in country music, from Day One. This husband/wife team made themselves into a franchise as historians and commentators for the TNN country cable network... Here they present the female side of the country equation, moving historically from the pre-recording days back in Hog Hollar, to the gradual entry of women into the growing "hillbilly" music industry, and finally into the hallowed halls of the Grand Ole Opry and the mainstream of commercial country. The writing is generally good, and the scope of the book is impressive. The authors pay special attention to the contradictions of women's place in early country -- they were important keepers of folk traditions, but not allowed to perform professionally -- as well as to the persistent stereotyping and creative restrictions placed on them my the Nashville establishment. This book may be a bit exhaustive, but it's an awesome bit of pop scholarship. Besides, they turned me onto the foul-mouthed mid-'50s proto-rockabilly filly, Charlene Arthur, which was worth the price of admission alone. Highly recommended! (DJ Joe Sixpack, Slipcue Guide To Country Music)
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