Roberta Lee Streeter (born July 27, 1944), known as Bobbie Gentry was an America singer that rose to fame in the late 1960’s. She grew up in Chickasaw county and drawing on her Mississippi roots was one of the first country artists to write her own music. She was raised on her grandparents’ farm in Chickasaw County. Her grandmother traded one of the family’s milk cows for a neighbor’s piano (Wikipedia).
I found out about her by accident really when I was reading an interview with Zooey Deschanel a few years ago. Since then ive searched record shops for anything by her on vinyl. Its proved very hard to find!
What I would give for that hair!
Her most prominent song, ‘Ode to Billy Joe’, took me a while to track down. I eventually found it on ebay! This song was released in 1967 and shot her into the spot light. The track was fourth in the Billboard year-end chart of 1967 and earned her Grammy awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1968.
IT was quite a controversial song at the time, describing the aftermath of a boy, Billy Joe, comiting suicide by jumping of the Tallahatchi Bridge.
Bobbie herself said about the song:
Those questions are of secondary importance in my mind. The story of Billie Joe has two more interesting underlying themes. First, the illustration of a group of people’s reactions to the life and death of Billie Joe, and its subsequent effect on their lives, is made. Second, the obvious gap between the girl and her mother is shown when both women experience a common loss (first, Billie Joe and, later, Papa), and yet Mama and the girl are unable to recognize their mutual loss or share their grief.
After Ode to Billy Joe was released, there was even a movie made about the song.
Gentry charted eleven singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and four singles on the United Kingdom Top 40. Her album Fancy brought her a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. After her first albums, she had a successful run of variety shows on the Las Vegas Strip.
Another favourite song of mine was her duet with Glen Campbell. ‘Little Green Apples‘ was featured on a joint album they made. I came across the single on 7inch a year or so ago and did a little jump in the store.
She lost interest in performing in the late 1970s and has since lived privately in Los Angeles (Wikipedia). Its a shame that shes not performing today, I would have loved to see her.
Please check her out if you’ve never heard of her. I promise you wont be disappointed!