Wanda Jackson was born in Maud, Oklahoma, a small town near Oklahoma City. Her father played piano in bar bands, but Wanda's first foray into musical performance was in the church gospel choir. In 1943, her father bought her a guitar, and at the age of 12 she won a talent show at the local radio station. Her prize was a daily 15-minute radio show. Hank Thompson, the country music star, heard her performing on the radio and invited her to sing with his group, the Brazos Valley Boys, on weekends. In 1954, while still in high school, Jackson recorded a country duet titled "You Can't Have My Love" with Billy Grey, one of Thompson's musicians. Much to her surprise, it became a national hit.
A short time after graduating from high school, Jackson toured the south with the Ozark Jubilee, where she met a young man named Elvis Presley. Elvis, not yet a star himself, convinced her that she should try rock and roll, then a decidedly male domain. Over the next 10 years, she recorded a number of hit songs. Some were country ballads and love songs and others are now considered to be classics of early rock and roll or rockabilly. Many of these recordings earned her a huge following in Europe and Asia. In the 1970s, Jackson decided that her religious convictions would allow her to record only gospel songs. Although she continued to perform and tour, followers of her early country material lost track of her. Several years ago, she made a recording that recaptured her old energy and style, and she now is performing for a whole new generation of fans. Jackson has the distinction of being inducted into both the Country Music and the Gospel Music Halls of Fame.
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