Patsy Montana was the first woman in country music to have a million-selling single -- 1935's "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart" -- and was a mainstay on the National Barn Dance on Chicago radio station WLS for many years. She might also have been country music's first female session musician. In the '30s and '40s she was the sweetheart of many a movie cowpoke, appearing in numerous western films, and her success encouraged the traditionally male-oriented country music business to welcome and respect the scores of female performers that followed her.
Rubye Blevins, the Yodeling Cowgirl from San Antone -- better known to the world as Patsy Montana -- was about as charming a performer as could be conceived, and Living Era's excellent compilation The Original Cowboy's Sweetheart is essential listening for even the most testosterone-heavy champion of the Western tradition. The 27 original mono recordings made between the years 1932-1945 feature Montana and her Prairie Ramblers at their best. It was an era that saw the singer's reputation grow with each and every single, eventually peaking with an appearance in longtime friend Gene Autry's film Colorado Sunset, where she performed her most recognizable hit, "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart." While Montana was adept at adapting popular songs that were originally sung by men -- the Eddie Jones-penned "I Only Want a Buddy, Not a Sweetheart" -- with a confidence that belied the times in which she lived, it was her own compositions like "Ridin' the Sunset Trail" and "When the Flowers of Montana Are Blooming" that set her apart from her contemporaries. Like the woman herself, her work with the Ramblers remains some of cowboy music's most endearing and enduring, a sentiment that Montana echoes in a quote from the liner notes about her all-male backing band: "They either wanted to mother me, brother me or marry me." MC