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How Patsy Cline overcame the good ol’ boys club in country music


When Patsy Cline began working in country music, female headliners were rare. Her tenacity and talent allowed her to overcome bias and become one of the first female solo artists in country music.

This clip recounts the challenges Cline faced when she arrived on the Nashville scene — described as a ‘good ol’ boy’ network by Troy Tomlinson (President / CEO Sony ATV Nashville) and actress Beverly D’Angelo (portrayed Cline in Coal Miner’s Daughter). The clip also features Reba McEntire, Callie Khouri (Oscar-winning screenwriter of Thelma & Louise, creator of TV series Nashville) and Wanda Jackson, who recalls: “In the early days that I came along, women weren’t headliners. It was really a man’s field, and if they had women at all it was just one. Never more than one on a bill.” Sadly, all these issues still exist today across music scenes.


When Patsy came to Music City, the doors weren't just flying open for her to come in and try to wow everybody. There was a bit of a 'good old boy' network. In the early days that I came along, women weren't headliners. It was really a man's field, and if they had women at all, it was just one - never more than one on a bill. You can't push back unless you've got the goods and especially in a good ol' boy network. [singing] You never would be offensive and start a situation, but you didn't walk on her. Very very - a strong woman.

She just - that was just what you saw when you saw Patsy Cline: strong.

Her voice was strong, her attitude was strong, and I wouldn't want to go against her in any way. There's a lot of people who can sing but not connect, and she was this kind of story teller that connected with that back row and was able to make that person feel like she was singing it to them.


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