Patsy's Early years:
Patsy Cline was born Virginia Patterson Hensley on September 8, 1932 in Gore, Virginia. She grew up with her mother and two sisters and brother, singing in church with perfect pitch. She got her first break when she went to her local radio station (WINC) in Winchester, and asked the DJ, Jimmy McCoy if she could sing on his show. She graduated to playing nightclubs when she was older, and soon became a regular on Connie B. Gay's Town and Country television show. From there, she started making appearances on the Grand Ole Opry.
"Walking After Midnight":
She was signed to Five Star Records in 1955, and while looking for material for her first album, she came upon the song "Walking After Midnight," a song she didn't care for, calling it, "just a little old pop song." But, the songwriters & the label insisted that she record it, and she auditioned it for the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts show in New York City, and got accepted to sing on the show.
"Walking After Midnight" did so well for Patsy that it crossed over to the pop charts, reaching #12, while it reached #2 on the country charts. Patsy became one of the first country singers to have a crossover pop hit.
Patsy left Five Star in 1960, and was signed to Decca, under the production of Owen Bradley, who was one of the producers responsible for the Nashville Sound style of music. Patsy's first single on Decca was "I Fall to Pieces," which also became her first #1 song.
In 1961, Patsy joined the Grand Ole Opry, which was a lifelong dream of hers. Cline was also a mentor to other up-and-coming female artists, such as Loretta Lynn, Dottie West, Barbara Mandrell, Jan Howard and Brenda Lee.
More than just an Opening Act:
Patsy Cline was the first female artist that proved she could compete with the male stars in record sales and concert tickets. She truly did break down the doors for the female stars that would follow in her footsteps. Back in the 1950's, female artists were known more as opening acts for the more popular male stars, but Patsy was the first female artist to headline her own shows. She's also the first female in country music to perform at New York's Carnegie Hall, and headline the Hollywood Bowl, along with Johnny Cash, and lastly, headline her own show in Las Vegas.
Her Tragic Death:
Patsy Cline accomplished much in her career, that was cut short by her tragic death on March 3, 1963. Patsy, along with her manager, Randy Hughes, who flew the plane, and other country stars Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins took off from the airport in Kansas City, but hit bad weather, and the plane crashed less than 15 minutes into the flight. There were no survivors. Her gravestone reads: "Death Cannot Kill What Never Dies: Love."