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Hillbilly Maidens, Okies, and CowgirlsWomen's Country Music, 1930-1960$
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Stephanie Vander Wel

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043086

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043086.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

Voices of Angels

Voices of Angels

Kitty Wells and the Emergence of Women’s Honky-Tonk

(p.153) 6 Voices of Angels
Hillbilly Maidens, Okies, and Cowgirls

Stephanie Vander Wel

University of Illinois Press

Chapter 6 traces the musical and lyrical developments of honky-tonk in the late 1930s and 1940s with Al Dexter, Ernest Tubb, and Hank Williams and remained a predominant mode of country music after World War II, right when Kitty Wells, Goldie Hill, and Jean Shepard contributed to the musical discourse. These female artists, taking over male-defined and often parodic representations of women, developed narratives that articulated class-specific voices couched in the metaphors of sexual and material desire, heartache, and loss juxtaposed with 1950s ideals of domesticity. Examining the particulars of musical style and vocal expression, this chapter argues that female artists in their various enactments of the honky-tonk angel, the angry, jilted housewife, the single mother, and the forsaken lover disclosed the paradoxes of class and gender and helped to lift the cloak of invisibility shrouding working-class women.

Keywords:   Al Dexter, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, Kitty Wells, Goldie Hill, Jean Shepard, honky-tonk, class, domesticity

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