100 Greatest Women, #78: Goldie Hill

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April 16, 2008

100 Greatest Women

#78

Goldie Hill

The feminist ideal is often described as freedom of choice. It’s interesting to think about that ideal when considering the career of Goldie Hill. In the early fifties, she became one of the few female stars of the early radio days. But she chose to walk away from her success to raise a family, leaving many wondering about the music that might have been.

Goldie was born in Texas in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression. When her older brothers left the family farm to become country singers, Goldie tagged along, but it didn’t take long before little sister was outshining her elder siblings.

Goldie’s brother Tommy Hill had gotten enough attention to land a slot on the Louisiana Hayride, a radio broadcast that was at its peak of popularity in the early fifties. Goldie soon earned solo spots on the show, leading to her being dubbed “The Golden Hillbilly.” In 1952, Kitty Wells showed that a woman could sell a massive hit with “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”, which led to women getting more attention from record labels. Hill’s exposure got her a deal with Decca Records.

Her first single went nowhere, but in 1953, she borrowed a page from the Wells playbook and answered a hit male record of the day, Perry Como’s “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes.” Hill responded with “I Let the Stars Get in My Eyes”, which went #1 and earned her widespread exposure, leading to magazine covers and appearances on television.

Throughout the mid-fifties, Hill was a presence on the radio and on television, having a few hits singing with Justin Tubb and Red Sovine. She became a Grand Ole Opry member in 1953. But in 1957, after marrying country singer Carl Smith, she chose to walk away from the business, settling down and raising a family.

Hill made some brief attempts at recording again in the late sixties, but her heart was never fully in it. She added Smith to her stage name and released two albums for Epic, but when they didn’t take off, she returned back home. Hill passed away in 2002, leaving behind some doors knocked down for future women, and some lingering questions about what might have been.

Goldie Hill

Essential Singles

  • “I Let the Stars Get in My Eyes”, 1953
  • “Looking Back to See” (with Justin Tubb), 1954
  • “Yankee, Go Home”, 1959

==> #77. Helen Cornelius

<== #79. Margo Smith

100 Greatest Women: The Complete List

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  1. Leeann says:

    This makes me think of Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. It seems to me that Faith’s career has taken somewhat of a backseat to Tim’s. He’s the one who does all of the movies and goes on the summer tours, puts out albums every year and a half, etc., while she seems to do a lot less.

    Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m in no way suggesting that this is Tim’s decision. I’m sure he’d be happy to do things the other way if that’s what she wanted. Likewise, I firmly believe that Faith has no problem standing up for herself. I simply have the feeling that, similar to Goldie Hill, she has made that choice and is perfectly satisfied with it.

  2. Paul W DennisNo Gravatar says:

    Goldie was a terrific singer and her husband Carl Smith was one of the five or six best male vocalists ever. Carl pulled the plug on his own career around 1977 although he recorded occasionally after that. It appears that they had a very enjoyable life together and I don’t think one can aspire much more than that out of life

  3. harv white says:

    how many children did carl & goldie have togather

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