Classic CMA Awards Moments, #16: Jeannie C. Riley in a miniskirt (1968)

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October 21, 2008

#16: Jeannie C. Riley
“Harper Valley, P.T.A.”
1968

At the peak of her powers, Jeannie C. Riley was enjoying the success of her small-town story song “Harper Valley P.T.A.” in the fall of 1968. But her handlers insisted on a sexually-charged image, one with which Riley disagreed. When she was nominated for several CMA awards that year, the first year the show aired live on television, Riley raged with disgust when her manager Shelby Singleton ordered her to wear a mini-skirt to attract attention.

Although Riley had requested a floor-length dress, Singleton had other ideas, calling the designer and demanding the shortening of the dress. His words: “You’re not an artist, baby. You’re a commodity – a miniskirted, silver-booted commodity. Now be there early. We’ve got a show to rehearse.” Riley was mortified as she performed at the show, but she managed to win the award for Single of the Year.

Although Riley tasted success in country music, and later in gospel, she never again earned another CMA award.

Jeannie C. Riley, Grand Ole Opry performance of “Harper Valley P.T.A.” (1968):

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  1. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar says:

    I must say, all this Jeannie C. love is infectious.

  2. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    It was kind of typical of Nashville to think that way about the female talent they have; they only saw them as a “commodity.” And while it probably doomed Jeannie’s chances of a truly long career, at least she stood her ground on this.

    One little irony about “Harper Valley PTA”: it was the only known instance of a country artist who got a #1 pop hit only to have it knocked off that perch by the Beatles (“Hey Jude”).

  3. ElevenNo Gravatar says:

    They still tell the artists they are “commodities” … male and female …. just in different ways.
    Music Row is alive and well after all these years.

  4. GailNo Gravatar says:

    I will always love Harper Valley PTA!! I still sing along when I hear it! In fact I requested it on my oldies radio station just the other day. AWWW, I love HEY JUDE too!

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