Appalachian Music Fellowship 15

Berea College Appalachian Music Fellowship
Day 15, June 19, 2009

Goldie Hill: The Golden Hillbilly . . . and “Little Gal”

In a file of miscellaneous published song books this morning, I found the 1954 Scrapbook of Hillbilly & Western Stars (pictured above); obviously a money-making endeavor that featured photographs and short biographies of current country music stars. Goldie Hill was one of these performers, and here is her “biography.” Note the very intimate details about her physical features. Gee, I found no such description about the male performers in this little book, but all of the female performers had some kind of description like this:

“Goldie Hill is a little gal from Texas with as much talent as she has beauty—and partner, that’s goin’ some! Goldie is the baby of the Hill family and was born in Karnes City, Texas, in 1933. Her professional singing career came about in an unexpected way. Goldie and her mother went to Nashville, Tennessee, with one of Goldie’s brothers (a recording start in his own right). They were watching Tommy record and during a lull in the session, Goldie picked up a guitar and started singing. That one song was enough to convince Decca that they had a real ‘find’ in Goldie. The lovely lass is five feet, four inches tall, weighs 129 pounds, has blue eyes and brown hair and is still single. Recently she signed with the Grand Ole Opry and her latest hit, ‘Yesterday’s Girl,’ is on the Decca label.”

Goldie Hill had five top hit singles from 1953 until her marriage to Carl Smith in 1957. She chose to forego the male-dominated music bid’ness after her marriage, perhaps prompted by either Roy Acuff who once told Johnnie Wright not to bill his wife Kitty Wells as a star on their tours (“Don’t ever headline a show with a woman,” Acuff warned. “It won’t never work, because people just don’t go for women.”) or these alliterative liner notes from her first album in 1957:

“Since Goldie’s marriage in 1957 to singer Carl Smith, most of her own singing has been as a homemaker indulging in household humming, while hanging up new drapes or a pair of her husband’s old jeans in the rambling ranch house.” (Finding Her Voice: The Saga of Women in Country Music)

–from the Berea College Special Collections, Hutchins Library

Published by Marianne Worthington

Marianne Worthington is a poet, editor, and co-founder of Still: The Journal, an online literary magazine publishing writers, artists, and musicians with ties to the Appalachian region since 2009. She received the Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Appalachian Book of the Year Award for her poetry chapbook, Larger Bodies Than Mine. She was awarded grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the Appalachian Sound Archives Fellowship at Berea College. She co-edited, with Silas House, Piano in a Sycamore: Writing Lessons from the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop, a writing craft anthology from teachers at the Appalachian Writers’ Workshop from the last 40 years. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Oxford American, CALYX, Grist, Shenandoah, The Louisville Review, Appalachian Review, Cheap Pop, and Chapter 16, among other places. She lives in Williamsburg, Kentucky, and teaches communication studies, media writing, and journalism at University of the Cumberlands. Her poetry collection, The Girl Singer, is available from University Press of Kentucky, 2021.

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