Senate honors Queen of Rockabilly

The State Senate honored the country’s first female Rock and Roll singer this week. Senate Resolution 6 congratulated Wanda Jackson on her lifetime of success in the music industry as well as being the first Oklahoma woman to be inducted into the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame.

“Mrs. Jackson is an amazing talent who has had an incredible career.  She’s a musical pioneer who has touched the lives of so many with her music,” said Sen. Harry Coates, R-Seminole.  “She has made her state, and especially the folks in Seminole and Pottawatomie Counties, very proud; and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

SR 6 was authored by Senators Harry Coates and Charlie Laster who represent Jackson’s hometown of Maud.
“Oklahoma is a hotspot for musical talent and Mrs. Jackson is one of our greatest examples of that,” said Laster, D-Shawnee.  “She helped blaze a trail for women in the music industry and proved they could be tremendously successful.  She’s a great ambassador for our state, and we’re very happy for her.”Jackson and her husband now live in south Oklahoma represented by Senator Steve Russell who also coauthored the resolution.

“What a pleasure it is to get to honor and recognize one of music’s most versatile and accomplished singers,” said Russell, R-Oklahoma City.  “I really admire the fact that she has continued to use her gift in gospel music and share that blessing with others.”

Besides getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the First Lady Rock is also a member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Country Music Hall of Fame, and the International Gospel Hall of Fame.

While on the floor, Jackson recognized her special guests Beth Seim, the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, and Evelyn Hibbs, the Secretary of the Board of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.  After the floor presentation, Jackson expressed her gratitude for the recognition.

‘This is really something.  I’m very humbled.  I didn’t expect anything like this,” said Jackson.  “I’m very flattered and grateful for making all of this possible for me.  The Oklahoma Senate is wonderful, and it was nice getting to thank and meet everyone in person.”

Jackson’s career began in 1952 when she won a local talent contest and was rewarded with her own 15- minute radio program on Oklahoma City radio station KLPR, which was later lengthened to 30 minutes.  1n 1954 at the age of 15, Jackson was discovered by Hank Thompson who heard the program.  She began recording with Thompson’s band, the Brazos Valley Boys.  Her first big hit was “You Can’t Have My Love”, a duet with Billy Gray, Hank Thompson’s band leader.

By the end of the 1950s Jackson was the country’s first major female country and rockabilly singer.  In 1958, she was the first woman to record a rock and roll song, “Let’s Have a Party”, which was one of eight songs nominated last year to compete as the Oklahoma state rock song.  She continued touring through the 1970s during which time she was nominated for two Grammys.  She then turned to gospel music of which she is still involved in today.