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Patsy Cline: A trailblazer among country artists

- Friday, March 03, 2017
Patsy Cline: A trailblazer among country artists


That's a word that gets used quite often when describing the great country legend Patsy Cline.

And true to the word, a new documentary "Patsy Cline: American Masters" on PBS is highlighting her life, her music, and the way in which she still impacts culture and music today.

Stitch Mitchell of KXA talked to Emmy-nominated director and producer Barbara Hall on March 3rd about the national documentary that is airing in the Seattle market on Saturday March 11th on KCTS TV. 

When asked what inspired Hall to create this documentary about Patsy Cline, Hall said, "As much as I love her music, her story almost supersedes her music."

Cline has a remarkable story, and Hall said it had to be told. 

Patsy Cline would be turning 84 this year and it's a wonder to think about how amazing her career would have been if her life weren't cut so short. Cline died at the age of 30 in a plane crash, leaving behind a husband, two children, and a world of artists and fans alike in every genre who revere Cline as a trailblazer.

"Patsy kicked open doors for female singers especially," said Hall. "Almost every female artist says, 'We owe our gratitude to Patsy Cline.'"

Cline had a way of doing things her way and not giving up.

Hall talked about how Cline was involved in a near-fatal car accident that left her with chronic pain, the need for multiple surgeries, and plastic surgery to her face. 

"It would have knocked anyone to their knees but she came back with a vengeance," said Hall. "That's a woman who knew she was meant to sing and that was not going to hold her back."

Along with resilience, Hall says Cline was generous, good-spirited, a riot on road trips, and incredibly supportive of other musical artists. She was also known for navigating a very male-heavy genre and making a name not only for herself, but for others who would come in through the door she left open. 

A funny story that illustrates her pioneering ways was when she performed at the Grand Ole Opry and showed up in pants. Hall said that the Opry asked her to go home and change and Cline responded, "If I'm sent home, I'm not coming back". Needless to say, the Grand Ole Opry told her to just get out there and sing then.

Cline's husband, who died last year, was quoted saying that Cline would be singing no matter what, even if she hadn't gotten discovered. It was part of her DNA.

Hall says that's what makes Patsy so inspiring and such a true artist. It's also what prompted her to direct and produce this new documentary and to come to PBS with the idea. 

"She sang because she had to," Hall said. "And she did it the way she felt it had to be done."


Be sure to catch Patsy Cline: American Masters on March 11th at 7 pm, March 13th at 10 pm, and March 17th at 8 pm on KCTS TV. 

Click here to listen to the interview with Stitch Mitchell and Barbara Hall.

By Kayla Lemmon, staff writer at KXA