Over 40 years after her tragic plane crash death, country music icon Patsy Cline (1932-1963) lives on. Her classic songs Crazy (written by Willie Nelson) and I Fall to Pieces are pop standards, bridging the gap between country and mainstream music... Alive forever, with Patsy singing from her heart.
Born Virginia Patterson Hensley on this day in Winchester, Virginia, she was a child prodigy winning a contest for her tap dancing skill at age four. She began singing and playing the piano as an eight year old, dreaming of Nashville and singing at the Grand Ole Opry.
With single-minded spunk, she made it there in July 1955 and became the first female country artist to headline her own tours. She was an enigma, a legend, the female counterpart to Hank Williams.
Donn Hect, who wrote Cline's hit Walking After Midnight, remembered the early days: "Here was a girl, attractive but plain, simple but complicated, with a heart as big as the mountains that made her eyes shine."
Cline was major influence on generations of singers that followed her, including Loretta Lynn, Linda Ronstadt, and Wynonna Judd. Singer Kathy Mattea said, “She was a country singer, but more than that she was just a great singer; one of the greatest voices of our time.”
Elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973, Cline never learned to read music and she played a song by ear. A movie of her life Sweet Dreams (1985) starred Jessica Lange.
About Cline's legendary voice, country singer Shelby Lynne said, "It never gets any better than when you hear a Patsy record. She can tear my heart completely out."
Trisha Yearwood, who credited Cline for inspiring her own musical career, had her own moving tribute: "Listening to her music today, with the growls, the cries in her voice, the soft whispers, laughs, and breaths between every phrase, it's like Patsy's standing in the room with me, and rest assured that room is alive and on fire."
Love makes you weak... and strong.