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Edward's Untimely Death Series: Entry #7

Patsy-Height.jpgVirginia Patterson Hensley was born on Sept. 8, 1932 in Gore, Virginia, and received her earliest vocal trainer as a singer in church choirs. By her mid-teens she was performing country music part-time with local bands and had a regular spot on a Winchester radio station. While growing up she was known as Ginny Hensley, but she was billed as Patsy Cline when she made her first appearance in 1955 on the Grand Ole Opry, a radio show broadcast nationwide from Nashville, Tenn.; the first name reflected the popularity of the "Yodeling Cowgirl" Patsy Montana,, and the surname came from a short-lived marriage in the mid-1950s. Her biggest break came in early 1957 when she sang "Walkin' After Midnight" on the nationally televised "Talent Scouts" program hosted by Arthur Godfrey.

Cline enjoyed singing up-tempo tunes that showcased her yodeling ability, but she achieved crossover pop success—and enduring fame—as an impassioned interpreter of torchy ballads such as "I Fall to Pieces" (1961), her first number-one country hit; "Crazy" (1961), written by Willie Nelson; and "Sweet Dreams (Of You)" (1963). During her brief recording and performing career she released three albums—Patsy Cline (1957), Patsy Cline Showcase (1961), and Sentimentally Yours (1962)—all produced by Nashville legend Owen Bradley (1915-98).

Cline’s life was cut short when she died in a plane crash, at the age of 30, on Mar. 5, 1963, near Camden, Tenn. As one of the first women to achieve great success in—and gain the full respect of—the country music establishment, she was an important influence on other female artists, most notably Loretta Lynn. Cline was the first female solo artist to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (1973). "Crazy" received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1992, and Cline was honored posthumously with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Her life was the subject of the film Sweet Dreams (1985), starring Jessica Lange.

Image: Album cover photo from Patsy Cline's 1962 album "Sentimentally Yours".

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