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


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


Interested in learning more about the films and ideas discussed in the interview? 

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 Adele, a recurring children’s program online.