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Dortha Wright
Born:  February 24, 1945
Town Hall Party

About The Artist

Promo Ad - Dortha Wright - Age 12 - Newspaper Photo - 1957 She was born Dortha Maxine Boatright in San Bernardino, CA. Her parents were Loyd John and Georgia Maxine (Moore) Boatright. Her dad was a carpenter by trade as well as a veteran of World War II. He was born in Comanche, TX. Her mom was born in Los Angeles County, CA. Loyd and Georgia were married on October 10, 1939 in Maricopa, AZ. The couple had three children: son, Ronald; daughters Barbara and Dortha.

She made her public debut as a singer as Dortha Boatright when she was just 10 years old. A promotional ad termed her, "San Bernardino's newest singing prodigy, only 10 years old, so tiny she has to stand on a chair to reach the microphone." She had become 'in demand' already at that age to appear on Cliffie Stone's shows. But her parents resisted the limelight for her as they felt she was too young.

Her debut was to be one night only on Saturday, June 4, 1955 and the Sierra Park Ballroom that was located at 40th and Sierra Way in San Bernardino, CA.

She did appearances at churches as well. In April 1957, she appeared for an Easter Service at the First Church of the Nazarene in San Bernardino. A year later, she appeared at the same church. The Children's department was putting on a sacred drama, "The Risen Lord." Dortha was to sing at 10:45 a tune by Stuart Hamblen, "He Bought My Soul At Calvary."

In December of 1957, Dortha left her regular "Town Hall Party" stint she had for over a year. According to The Cash Box, she joined the Ralph Hick at the "Jubilee Ballroom" in Baldwin Park, CA. This was reported to be where she got her first break and all were glad to see her return.

In 1958, she was to take part in the Blue Mountain Riding Club gymkhana at the Gregory Park Arena in San Bernardino. She was to present the high-point trophies and many of the other awards.

The Cash Box magazine's annual poll showed she was considered the number two most promising female vocalist, behind Skeeter Davis and ahead of Patsy Cline. But in 1959, she was number eight in the same poll and category. Margie Bowes and June Webb topped the category; Patsy Cline was the fourth most popular Female Vocalist that year.

She appears to have given up the public limelight and performing in the early 1960's.

She was married to Donald Nordstrom in 1970. In 1996, an article in a local newspaper told readers she was teaching an acting class for Martinez (CA) Leisure Services that was to be given to children ages six to 13 at the John Muir School once a week. As part of the class, students were to parody their favorite commercials. They were to bring a blank video tape to class and would take home a video of their class performance. Dortha was teaching the class along with Mike Tostado. Mr. Tostado directed music videos, films and was active with Diablo Video Arts; some of his programs had aired over the CNN and MTV networks.

Promo Ad - The Falls - San Fernando, CA - Oct 1963 - Dortha Wright - Princess Ramona - Cort Sheridan
Promo Ad - Sierra Park Ballroom - June 1955 - Dortha Boatright - Dortha Wright - Debut

Promo Ad - Western Harvest - West Covina Shopping Center - October 1957 - Dortha Wright - Les (Carrot Top) Anderson - Joe Maphis - Jenks (Tex) Carman - Quincy Snodgrass

Promo Ad - Special Easter Services - First Church Of The Nazarene - Little Dortha Wright - April 1957
Promo Ad - 40th Street Corral - San Bernardino, CA - Dortha Wright - May 1958

Promo Ad - Columbia Records Promo Ad - The Cash Box - December 1957 - Dortha Wright - Guy Mitchell - Jo Stafford - The Country Lads

Promo Ad - The 40th St. Corral - San Bernardino, CA - May 1958 - Dortha Wright
Promo Ad - Red Barn - March 1959 - Dortha Wright - Pomona, CA

Promo Ad - Sierra Park - San Bernardino - July 1955 - Dortha Boatright - Dortha Wright - Jimmy Preston - Steve La Rue - Saddle Mountain Boys
Promo Ad - KTTV Town Hall Party - Sixth Annivesary Celebration - Dortha Boatright - Dortha Wright - August 1959

Dortha Wright
Record Reviews From The Billboard and The Cash Box
Date Label Rec No. Review
9/7/1957 (CB) Columbia 40972 I Could Cry A Million Tears
Newcomer Wright makes a splendid debut under the Columbia banner as she puts her heart into her delivery of a poignant r&r-flavored romantic tear-jerker. Gal has a great style. She could go all the way with this one. (Rating: B+)

Your Honky Tonk Heart
Under side is another strong lover’s lament that the lark sends up in emotion-packed fashion. Dortha has the goods. Watch her stock soar. (Rating: B+)
12/21/1957 (CB) Columbia 41073 They Listened While You Said Goodbye
Dortha Wright, the lark with the necessary characteristics for stardom, displays her top calibre vocal stylings on this heart rending romantic waltzer. Excellent performance on a platter that could develop into Dortha’s ‘stepping stone’. (Rating: B+)

The Keeper Of The Key
This end the chirp sings with all her heart as she dramatically belts out this steadydriving, r&r-styled lover’s lament. Strong juke material. (Rating: B+)

Dortha married Donald E. Nordstrom in Reno, NV on October 19, 1970. This was her second marriage. Her father passed away in October 1995; her mother in January 1996.

Credits & Sources

  • Country Music Roundup; December 28, 1957; The Cash Box; New York, NY
  • Singing Star; April 20, 1957; The San Bernardino County Sun; San Bernardino, CA
  • First Church Of the Nazarene; Aril 5, 1958; San Bernardio County Sun; San Bernardino, CA
  • South Bay Shopping Center Will Stage 3-Day Jamboree; January 16, 1958; Gardena Valley News; Gardena, CA
  • 250 Valley Horsement To Vie In Event At Gregory Park; Gymkhana Slated Sunday; July 25, 1958; San Bernardio County Sun; San Bernardino, CA
  • Country Poll Winners - Which Up And Coming Female Vocalists To You Think Are Most Promising; June 21, 1958; The Cash Box; New York, NY
  • Country Poll Winners - Which Up And Coming Female Vocalists To You Think Are Most Promising; July 25, 1959; The Cash Box; New York, NY
  • Obituary: Loyd J. Boatright (Retired Carpenter - Father); October 17, 1995; The Daily Sun; San Bernardino, CA
  • Obituary: Georgia M. Boatright (Bloomington Resident - Mother); January 21, 1996; The Daily Sun; San Bernardino, CA
  • Acting Class For Kids At Muir School; Ocotber 3, 1996; Martinez News Gazette; Martinez, CA

Sound Sample—(YouTube Video Format)

The Keeper Of The Key

Printer Friendly Version

Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  40972 A Your Honky Tonk Heart
  40972 B I Could Cry A Million Tears
  41073 A The Keeper Of The Key
  41073 B They Listened While You Said Goodbye

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