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Biography

Country singer. Born Virginia Patterson Hensley, on September 8, 1932, in Winchester, Virginia. As a teenager, she played the piano and began singing country music. After marrying Gerald Cline, in 1953, she adopted the stage name Patsy Cline. Shortly after, Cline landed a recording contract with the independent label Four Star Records. With Four Star, she released a succession of singles that fared well locally, but failed to make her a household name outside of her hometown.

In 1957, Cline divorced her first husband and married Charlie Dick, with whom she would have three children. Later that year, Cline won Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts contest with a show-stopping rendition of the song “Walkin’ After Midnight.” The exposure afforded Cline the opportunity to visit the hub of county music—Nashville, Tennessee, where she caught the attention of Decca Records producer Owen Bradley.

Cline achieved her first success with the 1957 release of “Walkin’ After Midnight,” which reached No. 3 on the country charts and No. 12 on the pop charts. Under the direction of Bradley, Cline signed with the Decca label in 1959 and became a permanent member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1960. The following year, Cline recorded the hit single “I Fall to Pieces,” followed by the Willie Nelson composition “Crazy” (1961) and “She’s Got You” (1962), which all enjoyed similar crossover success.

On March 5, 1963, Cline’s budding career was tragically cut short when she was killed in a plane crash while returning to Nashville from Kansas City; she was 30 years old. Considered a trailblazer in her field, Cline paved the way for future female country artists, including Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn, who all credit their success to Cline’s influence.

In 1973, Cline set precedent as the first female solo artist inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Among the many posthumous honors that Cline received were the 1992 Grammy Hall of Fame Award and the 1995 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

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