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Darlene Tobin Bowen
KDKA Pittsburgh, PA
WHJB Greensburg, PA

Darlene Tobin Bowen and her twin sister, Marlene Tobin Sherrill, performed as "The Golden West Cowgirls" during the 1930's and 1940's.

We learned of Darlene and her sister from an 8x10 publicity photo still of her Darlene in our collection. Through today's modern connections, we were able to start documenting their careers.

Darlene's daughter tells us that as twins, they had a very sweet, clear harmony. The girls were self-taught musicians who mastered instruments such as the guitar, mandolin and bass violin.

They began their career at the age of twelve by entering the "Wilkins Amateur Hour" contest in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The girls must have done well for they were awarded first prize (which was a violin from a country music musician of that era, "The Old Sheepherder." Darlene's daughter indicates that this violin is still in the hands of the family.

The Golden West Cowgirls were later joined by their older sister, Bonnie. They were featured in an early morning radio show in Morgantown, West Virginia (perhaps WAJR), as well as on radio station KDKA out of Pittsburgh. They also worked at WHJB in Greensburg, Pennsylvania with Cowboy Phil.

Their personal appearances took them to a variety of venues throughout western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York.

They were signed to an exclusive contract with the Orpheus and Manos theaters as a featured act.

At one point, the girls were offered a movie contract. This was during the heyday of the "singing cowboy" movies with such legends as Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and The Sons of the Pioneers.

However, when one of the girls left the group to be married, these aspirations were left to another day.

Darlene's daughter, Yvonne, is attempting to locate some of their early recordings. She notes that apparently a fire at WHJB some years ago destroyed many of the tapes that were in their archives.

Janet McBride who helped us find the contact and quite a singer and yodeler in her own right told of a special interest in Darlene, since she was a gifted yodeler who had mastered the "double yodel."

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-music.com wishes to express its appreciation to Yvonne Bowen Filke, daughter of Darlene Tobin Bowen, for contacting us and helping us begin to document the career of her mother and the Golden West Cowgirls.

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