The life of Charles Mitchell began on a farm in Texas. About seven years later,
his family moved to Oklahoma and while growing up, he was among the Choctaw
Indians. They were a large part of his life, he leared to ride horses
and rope steers and learned to speak the Choctaw language fluently. When
he graduated from high school at Blue, Oklahoma, he took a job as the assistant
operator at a theatre.
From there, he took a course in telegraphy and got himself a position
as a telegraph operator for an Oklahoma railroad company. He had made some
contacts with small stock companies and began to edge his way into a
musical and stage career. He started playing the piano and mandolin.
Vaudeville was being to disappear and radio was coming on the scene when
Charles decided he would learn to play the Hawaiian steel guitar. He was
working for an oil company in Louisiana when he met a group of Hawaiians
and from there launched a successful radio career.
Fan mail started arriving at the station and that gave him the impetus
to form his own string orchestra, which played a Hawaiian and Western
style of music. Charles Mitchell and his group played at theatres and
school auditoriums throughout Louisiana and eastern Texas.
Then in 1930, Charles met Jimmie Davis. Jimmie liked what he heard and used
Charles Mitchell's orchestra to accompany him on his recordings at that
time. In 1940, they collaborated to write one of the most popular hillbilly
tunes of all time, "You Are My Sunshine".
Credits & Sources
- Hillbilly Hit Parade of 1942; Peer International Corporation;
1619 Broadway, New York, NY