Great American country pop star Patsy Cline performing her first chart-topping hit, "Walkin' After Midnight."

WOUB-TV to Broadcast ‘American Masters: Patsy Cline’ March 4

Posted on:

< < Back to

Country music great Virginia Patterson Hensley (a.k.a. Patsy Cline) worked her way to the top of international pop music consciousness – sweating every step of the way. She survived a rough (and allegedly abusive) relationship, was the mother of two children and charted eight songs during her short life – all whilst being paid around half of what her male counterparts were.

Born in the Shenandoah Valley near Winchester, VA in 1932, Cline dropped out of high school to help support her family, working a number of jobs, including slicing the throats of chicken headed to slaughter and cleaning Greyhound buses, in her youth.

Although she performed exclusively country music with her first outfit, the Kountry Krackers, she soon began taking on more pop and rock influenced tunes with the rise of rock ‘n’ roll in the late ‘50s. In 1956 she auditioned for Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts in New York City, performing the song that would become her first hit, Alan Block and Donn Hecht’s “Walkin’ After Midnight.”

The song was a moody pop tune that Cline didn’t care for much, at first. Listening to her delivery – it’s hard to believe that she didn’t believe in every ounce of it. The performance was enormously successful, and Cline found herself catapulted into the world of country music stardom.

Cline died tragically at the age of 30 in a plane crash, after having survived a brutal car crash only a few years before.

An early photo of Patsy Cline, who regularly wore pants long before it was considered to be the proper thing for a lady to do. (
An early photo of Patsy Cline, who regularly wore pants long before it was considered to be the proper thing for a lady to do. (

Her music lives on, and in more ways than one.

Angela Perley, the Columbus-based leader of acclaimed rock ‘n’ roots outfit Angela Perley and the Howlin’ Moons, said that “Walkin’ After Midnight” was her introduction to Cline.

“I remember being on my back porch when I was five or six years old and hearing it,” said Perley. “That was the first Patsy Cline song I had ever heard and I was definitely drawn into her voice. That was the first country artist that I listened to; she was the gateway into country music for me.”

Perley said that Cline’s indefinable combination of country and pop immediately drew her into the thick of the music.

“I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like Pasty Cline,” she said. “(Cline) definitely crosses boundaries. The key with Patsy Cline is that you can hear her emotion in her songs; she sounds extremely authentic and honest.”

WOUB-TV will broadcast “American Masters: Patsy Cline, ” a documentary about the life and career of the American singer on Saturday, March 4 at 5:30 p.m.