Cousin Emmy

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Cousin Emmy
Birth name Cynthia May Carver[1][2]
Born (1903-03-14)March 14, 1903
Origin Lamb, Barren County, Kentucky[1]
Died April 11, 1980(1980-04-11) (aged 77)[1]
Sherman Oaks, California[1]
Genres Old-time music
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Banjo
Years active 1930s–1960s
Labels Decca
Folkways
Associated acts Cousin Emmy and Her Kinfolk,
New Lost City Ramblers,
Clinch Mountain Boys

Cynthia May Carver (March 14, 1903 – April 11, 1980), known professionally as Cousin Emmy, was a banjo player and country singer who was one of the pioneering solo female stars in the country music industry. Although hit records eluded her, she proved to be a major name in personal appearances and on radio in the 1940s and 50s. In the 1960s she gained a new audience on the folk music circuit. Her song "Ruby, Are You Mad at Your Man?" became a bluegrass standard after it was covered by the Osborne Brothers.[2] She started out her career by playing with Frankie Moore's Log Cabin Boys. She influenced the playing of Grandpa Jones. She appeared in two films, Swing in the Saddle and The Second Greatest Sex.

Career[edit]

Cousin Emmy began performing as a small child. After developing a following in her native Barren County, Kentucky, she eventually attracted the attention of radio station WHAS in Louisville, where she became a featured act with Frankie Moore's Log Cabin Boys in 1935. Between her radio performances, she would also perform in live shows, often traveling as much as 500 miles in one day.[1][2][3]

As her radio shows gained popularity, she would move on to larger markets in St. Louis and Chicago. This led to a recording contract at Decca Records. Although she recorded only one album for the label, this recording and her performances with Cousin Emmy and Her Kinfolk helped her develop a devoted fanbase.[1][2][3]

Later, Cousin Emmy relocated to Los Angeles, where she appeared in the film, Swing in the Saddle. She would also appear at local country music clubs while raising several adopted children.[1][2]

After the Osborne Brothers heard Cousin Emmy and Her Kinfolk's recording of "Ruby Are You Mad?" on a jukebox, they recorded the song for MGM Records in 1956, and it remains one of their best known recordings.[1][2] The song is perhaps best known today for its top five remake by Buck Owens in 1971.

Cousin Emmy gained a new audience as a result of the folk revival of the 1960s. In 1961, while performing at a "Country & Western Night" show at Disneyland, she met the New Lost City Ramblers, one of several groups that had formed during that time.[4] She appeared on Rainbow Quest, a folk music series hosted by Pete Seeger. In 1967, the New Lost City Ramblers convinced Cousin Emmy to record with them. This led to an appearance at the Newport Folk Festival, excerpts of which were released on Vanguard, as part of an anthology collection and in Festival, an Academy Award nominated documentary.[1][2]

An astute businesswoman, she retained the copyrights to her songs.[3]

She died in Sherman Oaks, California on April 11, 1980 and is buried at the Eternal Valley Memorial Park in Newhall.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Chadbourne, Eugene. "Cousin Emmy". All Music Guide. Retrieved April 9, 2014. Among the classic country players who credit Cousin Emmy with inspiring them to play is Grandpa Jones, who worked with her on WWVA when he was too young to be a grandpa and had no banjo on his knee. The bluegrass pioneers the Osborne Brothers heard her version of "Ruby Are You Mad" on a jukebox and decided to run with it, turning it into their band's signature song. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Chadbourne, Eugene. "About Cousin Emmy". Country Music Television (CMT). Retrieved April 9, 2014. Among the classic country players who credit Cousin Emmy with inspiring them to play is Grandpa Jones, who worked with her on WWVA when he was too young to be a grandpa and had no banjo on his knee. The bluegrass pioneers the Osborne Brothers heard her version of "Ruby Are You Mad" on a jukebox and decided to run with it, turning it into their band's signature song. 
  3. ^ a b c "Cousin Emmy and Her Kinfolk". Hillbilly-Music Dawt Com. Retrieved April 9, 2014. In 1935, she was a featured act with Frankie More's Log Cabin Boys on WHAS in Louisville, Kentucky. 
  4. ^ "New Lost City Ramblers with Cousin Emmy". Smithsonian Folkways. Retrieved April 9, 2014. Cousin Emmy can be heard on this album in the classic bluegrass played in the style of mountainous regions 
  5. ^ Graver, Anonymous. "Cynthia Mae "Cousin Emmy" Carver". Find A Grave. Retrieved April 9, 2014. 

External links[edit]