Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman looks at a pioneering female R&B artist who was a triple threat as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Friday on KXT and Saturday on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you.
And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KERA radio’s 90.1 at Night.
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Barbara Lynn was born in Beaumont on Jan. 16, 1942. She played piano and ukulele as a child. But after seeing Elvis Presley perform, she began playing guitar and fronting her own all-girl band, Bobby Lynn and The Idols. Barbara Lynn soon got the attention of legendary Houston producer Huey Meaux, who asked her parents’ permission to record the teenager. In 1962, Barbara Lynn recorded one of her own compositions, “You’ll Lose a Good Thing,” which became a No. 1 R&B hit and a top 10 hit on the pop charts. The song later became a country hit for Texas singer Freddy Fender. Barbara Lynn went on to appear with Gladys Knight, B.B. King, Stevie Wonder and others. She has performed at the Apollo Theater and on American Bandstand and has had her songs recorded by such major rock artists as the Rolling Stones and Moby.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll remember a woman who played autoharp and sang folk songs before becoming a rock music legend.