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What Is a Western? Interview Series: Singing Cowboys & Cowgirls

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Topics: Imagined Wests

singing cowgirl and cowboy

Autry curator Josh Garrett-Davis interviews The Farmer and Adele about the impact of Western Swing on the Grand Ole Opry, and its continuing legacy in the Nashville music scene today.

What Is a Western? Interview Series: Singing Cowboys & Cowgirls

Learn More

To Listen

On the Trail with The Farmer and Adele, a daily radio show on 650 AM/WSM

Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys

WSM Radio, the station that made the Grand Ole Opry famous

Riders in the Sky

To Read

Douglas B. Green’s Singing in the Saddle: The History of the Singing Cowboy (2005)

Rich Kienzle’s Southwest Shuffle: Pioneers of Honky-Tonk, Western Swing, and Country Jazz (2003)

Holly George-Warren’s Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry (2007)

To Watch

The Farmer and Adele point out in the interview that several rarely filmed musicians had their performances preserved in “singing cowboy” films. Here are a few key examples, starting with four starring Gene Autry (Boyd Magers’s Gene Autry Westerns: America’s Favorite Cowboy (2007) offers a helpful appendix on Autry’s films). You can stream Autry’s films on SHOUT TV as they are released.

The Big Show (1936), a classic Gene Autry movie, featuring a performance by the Sons of the Pioneers with a young Leonard Slye (Roy Rogers).

Ride, Tenderfoot, Ride (1940) features Cindy Walker.

In Old Monterey (1939) features the Hoosier Hot Shots.

Heart of the Rio Grande (1942) features the Jimmy Wakely Trio.

And beyond Gene Autry, Charles Starrett’s films Blazing the Western Trail (1945) and Lawless Empire (1945) feature Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.

Finally, for the littlest cowpokes on your ranch, boot up Saddle Up with the Farmer and Adelea recurring children’s program online.

Land Acknowledgment

The Autry Museum of American West acknowledges the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples as the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar (the Los Angeles basin and So. Channel Islands). We recognize that the Autry Museum and its campuses are located on the traditional lands of Gabrielino/Tongva peoples and we pay our respects to the Honuukvetam (Ancestors), ‘Ahiihirom (Elders) and ‘Eyoohiinkem (our relatives/relations) past, present and emerging.

The Autry Museum in Griffith Park

4700 Western Heritage Way

Los Angeles, CA 90027-1462
Located northeast of downtown, across from the Los Angeles Zoo.
Map and Directions

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Tuesday–Friday 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

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