I’ve Endured: Women in Old-Time Music

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Jenny Lou Carson

From the John Edwards Memorial Foundation Records, #20001, Southern Folklife Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Decatur, Illinois

Date of Birth

January 13, 1915

Date of Death

December 16, 1978

Jenny Lou Carson (born Virginia Lucille Overstake) began performing on the WLS National Barn Dance stage at the age of 17 as one of the Three Little Maids with her sisters Evelyn and Eva. She played guitar in the trio and also wrote songs, including some that she sold to The Girls of the Golden West. While the Three Little Maids broke up in 1935, Jenny Lou (known by her middle name Lucille at the time) kept performing at WLS in a trio called Winnie, Lou, & Sally.

In the late 1930s, she recorded several risqué songs with the Sweet Violet Boys using the name Lucille Lee, an unusual act by a female old-time/country singer. Soon after this, she transformed herself into an Annie Oakley-like/singing cowgirl persona and called herself Jenny Lou Carson. Jenny Lou recorded for several labels in the 1940s, including Decca, Mercury, and RCA Victor.

She was a prolific songwriter with over 170 songs to her name, and she was the first woman to write a No. 1 country music hit with “You Two-Timed Me One Time Too Often” in 1945. Her songs have been performed by artists as diverse as Hank Snow, Willie Nelson, Rosemary Clooney, Trio Los Panchos, Ella Fitzgerald, Eddy Arnold, and Connie Francis. One of her songs – “Let Me Go, Devil” – was viewed as too dark (with a focus on alcoholism and inspired by Hank Williams Sr.), and so the song was changed to a heartbreak song called “Let Me Go, Lover” instead. 

Jenny Lou Carson was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971.

Take a Listen

Select Discography

  • “Jealous Heart”
  • “Let Me Go, Lover”
  • “You Two-Timed Me One Time Too Often”
  • “Don’t Rob Another Man’s Castle”

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Jenny Lou Carson

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