Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman honors one of the Lone Star State’s very first female recording artists.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Sunday at precisely 6:04 p.m. on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.
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On July 26, 1923, Maggie Jones, born Fae Barnes in Hillsboro, Texas, recorded for Black Swan Records, one of the earliest African-American owned labels in the country. This session made Jones among the first female singers from Texas to record professionally. Although not as well known as fellow Texas “blues queens” Sippie Wallace and Victoria Spivey, Jones was still quite popular and performed with such notable artists as Louis Armstrong and Fletcher Henderson.
For a brief time, Jones supplemented her musical income by opening a dress shop in New York City. However, by the early 1930s, she had returned to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where she operated a cabaret group that performed throughout the Southwest.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll remember a World War I doughboy who helped launch the singing cowboy craze of the 1930s and 1940s.