Cousin Emmy

100 Greatest Men: #100. Eck Robertson

January 2, 2011 // 6 Comments

The entire story of recorded country music can be traced back to a fiddle player named Eck Robertson, “World’s Champion Fiddler.”

Robertson was the son of a Confederate soldier, born in Arkansas in 1887 and raised in Texas. His father made a living as a farmer and a preacher, but also taught his son how to play the fiddle. Robertson carried on the family tradition of playing fiddle, learning the instrument at the age of five years old. Once grown, he joined the traveling band of a medicine show.

Robertson married his wife Nettie, also a musician, in 1906. He became a piano tuner by trade, but Eck and Nettie would still perform in the Texas area, competing in fiddling contests and providing the musical accompaniment in silent movie theaters. It was in 1916, while playing at an Old Confederate Soldiers reunion, that he met Henry C. Gilliland, a veteran fiddler in his mid-seventies. The two became a powerful team, touring similar reunions across the south, with Robertson serving as lead fiddler and Gilliland playing second fiddle.

100 Greatest Women, #45: Cousin Emmy

May 21, 2008 // 1 Comment

100 Greatest Women #45 Cousin Emmy Due to its continued existence and legendary roster, the Grand Ole Opry has long been the most well-known country radio show. But it wasn’t the only one, and each of the big shows had their own eclectic cast of stars. On the WWBA Jamboree show out of West Virginia, the biggest star was Cousin Emmy. She was a multifaceted performer who could play more than a dozen instruments, and she had a more outsized personality than any woman in country music history. With crimson-red lipstick and bright blonde hair tied up in ribbons, she had a look that could make Dolly Parton say “that’s a little too much.” But like Parton herself, her campy personality and aw-shucks humor masked a tremendously talented and fully independent business woman. For a woman who only went to school for two weeks, she was incredibly shrewd, capitalizing on Read More