Born in 1932 on the 'other side of the tracks' in Winchester, Virginia, country music crossover sensation Patsy Cline began singing in church as a child with her mom, Hilda Hensley. Patsy dropped out of high school and went to work as a soda jerk at a local diner while gaining popularity singing on the Jumpin' Joltin' Jim McCoy Saturday morning radio show on station WINC in Winchester. Patsy began performing professionally at local venues, wearing brightly-colored cowgirl costumes of her own design that Hilda, a talented seamstress, sewed for her. She also sang on radio shows, including Town and Country Jamboree with Jimmy Dean.

patsy cline cowgirl jacket

Patsy Cline in one of her cowgirl costumes.

Patsy signed a deal with Four Star Records and recorded 51 songs under that label including A Church, A Courtroom & Then Good-Bye and other country songs. Patsy's big break came, however, when she swapped her cowgirl dress for a cocktail dress and was presented on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts in New York City by Hilda, who posed as Patsy's talent scout. Patsy's soulful yet sassy performance of Walkin' After Midnight broke the show's applause meter. Her recording of Walkin' After Midnight climbed both the country charts and the pop charts, making Patsy Cline one of country music's first crossover artists.

patsy cline historic house cowgirl dresses

Patsy Cline designed her cowgirl outfits, and her mom Hilda, a talented seamstress, sewed them for her. They can be seen on display at Patsy Cline Historic House.

Patsy moved to Nashville and joined the Grand Ole Opry where her career soared and she mentored other young female artists such as Loretta Lynn, Dottie West, Brenda Lee, and Barbara Mandrell - all of whom were deeply influenced by the kind, spirited, down-to-earth, and generous icon who never forgot her roots. It was at the Opry that Patsy premiered her signature song and crossover hit Crazy written by Willie Nelson and paved the way for women as headliners of their own shows.

Patsy Cline was a crossover country artist whose hits topped the charts and paved the way for women as headliners in the music industry. You can listen to some of Patsy's greatest hits above at iTunes.

On the night of March 5, 1963, after performing several benefit concerts, Patsy boarded a Piper Comanche light aircraft in Kansas City heading back to Nashville. There was an indication of possible bad weather ahead, but the pilot, who was not instrument trained and could fly only by visual flight rules, decided to go ahead. While flying over Tennessee not more than 100 miles from Nashville, the flight encountered heavy rains and cloud cover that probably caused the pilot to become disoriented and direct the plane into a high-speed diving turn and eventual crash outside of Camden, Tennessee. There were no survivors. On board with Patsy and the pilot Randy Hughes were country music stars Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins. When the Tennessee Highway Patrol arrived on the scene they found a crash site littered with the pieces of Patsy's dreams - sheet music, instruments, guitar strings, make up, wigs, costumes, jewelry, high heels - and a fringed cowgirl jacket and cowgirl hat.

Listed on both the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, Patsy Cline Historic House was Patsy and Hilda's home from 1948 to 1953. Initially, they rented the home - without electricity or running water - for $27.50 per month until Patsy gave Hilda $10,000 from her Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts winnings to purchase the home. The vintage home and its neighborhood on Kent Street appear much as they did during Patsy's residence here. The house is open seasonally for guided tours and is located close to Old Town Winchester where there are many fine shops, restaurants and other historic attractions.

patsy cline historic house living room piano

The Patsy Cline Historic House is decorated with period furnishings from the time that Patsy and Hilda lived here.

Pictured at the very top: Patsy Cline Historic House is the modest home where Patsy Cline and her mom lived in Winchester, Virginia.

History courtesy of and many thanks to Ellis Nassour, Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline, Chicago Review Press, Chicago, Illlinois, Kindle Edition, 2008, and "Patsy Cline: American Masters", Blue Ridge PBS, Roanoke, Va. March 4, 2017.