Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman celebrates the first female singer to work with the King of Western Swing.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.
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Laura Lee Owens McBride died on Jan. 25, 1989, in Bryan, Texas. The daughter of well-known singer-songwriter Tex Owens and the niece of popular vocalist Texas Ruby Owens, Laura Lee began performing on radio at the age of 10. In the 1930s, she moved to California, where she appeared in more than a dozen movies with cowboy star Gene Autry. In the 1940s, she became the first female singer to be hired by legendary Western Swing pioneer Bob Wills. Laura Lee Owens McBride went on to perform with Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb and others. She won numerous awards and opened the door for many other women in country music.