O Sister, Where Art Thou?
August 9, 2016 9:23 AM   Subscribe

This past May on Metafilter, we looked at “Thirty Minutes Behind the Walls”, a wildly popular variety show that was broadcast every Wednesday night in the 1930's and 1940's from the state prison in Huntsville, TX. It featured performances by male and female prisoners. No recordings of the show have ever been found. In the early forties, eight inmates of the Goree State Farm prison unit formed one of the first all-female country and western acts in the country and their performances were broadcast on Thirty Minutes. The Goree All Girl String Band captured the hearts of millions of radio listeners but never cut a record or went on tour and have thus been ignored by music historians. When they were paroled, they nearly all vanished forever.

The Texas Monthly feature story about the Goree Girls was first published in the May, 2003 issue. It was written by the magazine's executive editor, Skip Hollandsworth. He was also interviewed by the magazine about the story.

Pappy O'Daniel
Fans of the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? will have spotted a reference to Wilbert Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel in the Texas Monthly story, who was played in the movie by Charles Durning. O'Daniel was the Donald Trump of his time -- a populist business owner and demagogue who ran for public office as a stunt to boost his flour sales and to everyone's shock, won. He was a great salesman, but accomplished virtually nothing (except create controversies) as governor of Texas.

More info about him is available from Texas Public Radio:
* Pass the Politics, Pappy: Part 1
* Pass the Biscuits, Pappy: Part 2
* O'Daniel, Where Art Thou? The Radio Flour Salesman
* Pass the Politics, Pappy: O'Daniel The Candidate
* Pass The Politics Pappy: O’Daniel The Governor
* Pass The Politics Pappy: Part 4, O'Daniel For Senate

Also, no post that references the movie would be complete without a link to Rhaomi's fantastic post: "You shall Hear things, Wonderful to tell."

Goree Girls: The Movie
After it was published, the Texas Monthly article came to the attention of Jennifer Aniston, who was then inspired by it to create a movie about the Goree Girls. Aniston and Kirstin Hahn's screenplay has been stuck in development hell for years. It may finally be happening, though.
posted by zarq (2 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
This is great. if they haven't finalized casting yet, I am a woman who can pass for a petty criminal and play my own instruments well enough, but not too well.

[I can't take too much issue with the Hollandsworth article because what do I know about it, but saying in passing re: music historians that Maybelle Carter is a bluegrass vocalist [1] calls into question for me what he knows about what is forgotten and what is remembered about women country musicians. she's a guitar legend first, Carter family original member second, and autoharpist third, I guess. and also she sang, sure. but 'Maybelle Carter, bluegrass vocalist' is not really something I can imagine reading even in a superficial sexist country music rundown that drops her in as a token, it is like 'Elvis Presley, guitar player.' and I am a noted reader of sexist music histories and non-carer about guitars so I know a little bit about what is common knowledge here.

but, having said that, I had not in fact heard of the Goree Girls before so maybe Hollandsworth is right about everything else. ]

[1] I was going to put scare quotes around one or both of those words but I would need so many I would not know when to stop
posted by queenofbithynia at 11:19 AM on August 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

This was really fascinating. Thanks so much for finding it!!
posted by starscream at 9:45 AM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older You're going to need a bigger bylaw.   |   just look at it, it's obvious Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments