Forebears: Wanda Jackson, The Queen Of Rockabilly

Wanda Jackson is known as the Queen of Rockabilly. Autumn de Wilde /Courtesy of the artist

By Maria Sherman, NPR

When Wanda Jackson was six years old her father asked her, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” She shouted back: “A girl singer.” A barber by trade and country performer by night, Jackson’s father was a supportive figure who urged Wanda to be herself and to pursue endeavors that made her happiest. He bought her an old Martin D18 guitar soon afterwards and watched as her ineffable rasp and relentless determination crafted a career that would quickly eclipse his — long before she reached drinking age — in turn challenging the traditional path of popular music.


Known as both the Queen and First Lady of Rockabilly, Jackson’s prolific career protested patriarchal standards of music new and old. She did the unacceptable and refused to compromise. As Elvis Costello says in the 2008 Wanda Jackson documentary, Sweet Lady with the Nasty Voice, “You can hear lots of rocking girl singers who owe an unconscious debt to a woman like Wanda. She was standing up on stage with a guitar in her hand while other gals were still asking, ‘How much is that doggy in the window?'” Because of Jackson, we’ll never have to again.

Read full NPR article HERE.

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