Shirley Bates was born in Kansas City, Missouri. She was raised
in a musical family. Her mother played the piano and often
the evenings would find Shirley and her mom making their own
During those early years, she began her fondness towards
country music and began to set a goal to one day become
a country entertainer.
Her career took west to Southern California where country music was
enjoying a lot of popularity and she hoped to become a part of that.
She took to taking advantage of any opportunity she could find
to showcase her vocal talents. It was a talent show where one of the popular
disc jockeys back the, Carl (The Squeakin' Deacon) Moore discovered her. It
seems he also had a hand in the discovery of another young female singer,
Dinah Shore. The Squeakin' Deacon decided to help out the youngster who
had a strong desire to be in the music business.
With that boost of confidence, she took her guitar and headed
over to audition for Forman Phillips who had the popular "Forman Phillips County Barn Dance" radio
show at the time. Mr. Phillips must have liked what he saw and heard for soon
she was a part of the show and became known as "The Sweetheart of the County Barn Dance."
The Forman Phillips County Barn Dance moved from just being a radio show to being a live television
broadcast. During that time, Shirley met and performed with many of the major
stars of that era including Ray Price and Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.
Around that time, a local record producer had heard her and wanted to sign
her to a contract with his Fabor Records label. At the time, Fabor Robison
had such stars as Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves and Ned Miller under contract.
Shirley stayed with the County Barn Dance show until it ran is course and went
off the air. But she continued to do personal appearances and entertain audiences and promote her own
recordings. She wanted to find the right music to sing, so that led to the
beginning of her songwriting.
We should note that one interesting anecdote to the Forman Phillips County Barn
Dance is that the director was Dick Brown. Dick was later formed "Cambria Studios"
that produced the first color animated series for television, "Clutch Cargo".
But, by this time, Fabor Robison had retired from the music business. Shirley
had also gotten married and began a family. But she kept performing.
When her two sons were old enough and showing their musical skills, Shirley
and her boys formed a family band. The trio began working at various clubs
and rodeo dances.
Out of the blue, she received a call from Fabor Robison. It seems he
had gotten tired of retirement and wanted to return to the music business
and recording. A session was in the works for Shirley, but their parternship
ended with Mr. Robison's sudden demise. Before passing away, Fabor had told
her that he had visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and told her that
the recordings she and others had made for his label were in their archives.
Shirley is also an author of a book. When her father was near death in the hospital,
struggling with the ravages of emphysema, her daughterly love brought him
back to health. And she used that experience to draw out of him the life
he had lead as a "carnie" - and the book is "The Life of A Carnie" that
chronicles her father's life, Colonel V. W. Bates.
Shirley continues to record new material. Her latest CD, "New Walls" can
be purchased directly from her for $8.99 plus $4.00 shipping:
Shirley Bates CD - New Walls
P.O Box 5396
Fallon, NV 89407
You can hear several samples of that new album when you visit her site using
the link below.
Credits & Sources
- Hillbilly-Music.com wishes to express its appreciation
and thanks to Shirley Bates for contacting us and providing us with
her biographical information and photos.
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