Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts introduce America to Patsy Cline

1957

Patsy Cline, one of the most important figures in country music history, first gains national attention with her winning appearance on Arthur Godfreys Talent Scouts on January 21, 1957. Widely admired for her incredible voice, Cline also stood out for her trailblazing independence as a female star in an era very much dominated by men. As many classic recordings as she left behind, her career was hampered for many years by a terrible recording contract and cut short by her tragic death in an airplane crash en route to Nashville from Kansas City in March 1963.

Arthur Godfrey was a major figure in American radio and television in the 1940s and 1950s, presiding as host over a number of different programs in both mediums simultaneously. From his morning news and chat show on CBS radio to his variety shows on CBS television, Godfrey was a popular and ubiquitous presence for the better part of two decades. His most popular program was Arthur Godfreys Talent Scouts, a program featuring amateur entertainers making their national television debuts. Among the future stars who got a critical early break by appearing on Talent Scouts were Tony Bennett, Lenny Bruce, Marilyn Horne and Pat Boone. A certain loose-hipped young singer from Memphis by the name of Presley failed to earn a spot on Talent Scouts in 1955, but otherwise the show’s track record was admirable. After several years of struggling for a breakthrough in small venues and on regional radio, Patsy Cline made the most of her invitation to Talent Scouts, wowing the studio audience with her performance of the now-classic “Walkin’ After Midnight.”

“Walkin'” made it to #2 on the country music charts and #12 on the pop charts, strongly hinting at Cline’s crossover potential. But the strict terms of her recording contract with a small label called Four Star limited her to working with that label’s stable of songwriters, who failed to write another hit for Patsy for the duration of her contract. It was not until 1960, when Cline signed on with Decca Records that her fortunes improved. Under the direction of the legendary Nashville producer Owen Bradley, Cline scored a #1 country hit with “I Fall to Pieces,” another with “She’s Got You,” and then a top-10 country and pop hit with the Willie Nelson-penned “Crazy,” the classic recording for which Patsy Cline is perhaps best remembered.

– History.com Staff