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MABIE, VICTORIA LOUISE MASSEY

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MABIE, VICTORIA LOUISE MASSEY (1902–1983). Victoria Louise Massey Mabie, known as Louise Massey, country and western singer, was born Victoria Louise Massey in Midland, Texas, on August 10, 1902. She was the daughter of Henry Massey. Labeled the "original rhinestone cowgirl" by later generations, she was known for her spectacular costumes and ladylike style on stage and for recording in both English and Spanish. Her career, which lasted from 1918 to 1950, marked a time when women first became prominent in country music. She formed a band in 1918 with her father, husband Milt Mabie, and two brothers. The band, based in Roswell, New Mexico, was first called the Massey Family Band and then Louise Massey and the Westerners.

After playing local venues and touring the Texas area, the band auditioned for a music show, "The Red Path Chautauqua." The success of the audition led to a two-year tour of the United States and Canada. In 1930 the Westerners signed a five-year contract with CBS radio in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1934 their song "When the White Azaleas Start Blooming" was released; it sold three million copies. Other hit songs included "South of the Border (Down Mexico Way)" and "My Adobe Hacienda." The latter, cowritten by Massey and Lee Penny, had the distinction of being listed on both the hillbilly and the pop charts simultaneously, causing some to classify it as the first-ever crossover hit.

In 1938 Louise Massey began recording and singing for NBC programs in New York. She retired in 1950 to the Hondo Valley in Lincoln County, New Mexico. She and her husband had one daughter, Joy. Louise Massey was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fameqv in 1982. She died in San Angelo, Texas, on June 20, 1983.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Mary A. Bufwack and Robert K. Oermann, Finding Her Voice: The Saga of Women in Country Music (New York: Crown, 1993). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music (New York: Harmony Books, 1977). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Robin Dutton

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Robin Dutton, "MABIE, VICTORIA LOUISE MASSEY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fmasd), accessed August 21, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on October 2, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.