June 3 is unofficially Bobbie Gentry Day, as that’s the day the singer’s most famous character jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge in the smash hit “Ode to Billie Joe.” Fifteen years later, Gentry herself would jump to obscurity … but why?
This week’s episode of the Secret History of Country Music Podcast explores Gentry’s sudden disappearance after the 1982 ACM Awards, and revisits attempts made to reach her in recent years. To understand why she left — or at the very least, to theorize about it — you needs to understand her raising and her reluctance to be a country superstar. Gentry (born Roberta Lee Streeter) had songwriting dreams, but her impressive musicianship and command of the stage led her to an inevitable career as an artist.
Listen as Taste of Country’s Adison Haager and Billy Dukes explore why she quit so suddenly and where she’s living today. Gentry has influenced the careers of dozens of artists in pop, hip-hop and country music, most notably Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris and Kacey Musgraves. Reba McEntire is a big fan, but despite making Gentry’s “Fancy” Top 10 country hit, she’s never met her.
Has she tried? That’s an interesting story that’s best told by her. Important sources for this episode include articles in the Washington Post, the Guardian, Medium and Highway Queens, plus Season 1 of the Cocaine & Rhinestones podcast.
Season 1 of the Secret History of Country Music Podcast is an extension of the popular video series of the same name, and a part of the Townsquare Media podcast network. Look for new episodes every Monday.
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