I’ve Endured: Women in Old-Time Music

Close-Up on Women in Old-Time Music

Home » Leola Manning

Leola Manning

Photo of Leola Manning
Image reproduced from the liner notes by Ted Olson and Tony Russell, The Knoxville Sessions, 1929–1930: Knox County Stomp, 2016


Chattanooga, Tennessee

Date of Birth

September 10, 1902

Date of Death

February 1, 1995

Leola Manning grew up singing the sacred songs she heard at home from her mother, later performing as an “evangelical street singer.” She recorded two religious songs at the first Knoxville Sessions in the summer of 1929 – unlike the 1927 Bristol Sessions, the focus in Knoxville wasn’t only on hillbilly music, and these sessions captured hillbilly, blues, and jazz songs. Leola recorded in Knoxville again in 1930, but this time she brought her own songs, ones that connected to the blues but highlighted topical and moral issues. “The Arcade Building Moan” was a song about a contemporary explosion and fire that killed four people, while her “Satan is Busy in Knoxville” was possibly based on two murders in East Knoxville. She recorded two other songs in 1930 – “Laying in the Graveyard” and “The Blues Is all Wrong.” Leola spent the rest of her life as an evangelist with her husband; she continued to write songs for that work rather than for commercial performances.

Take a Listen

Select Discography

  • “He Cares For Me”
  • “He Fans Me”
  • “Satan is Busy in Knoxville”
  • “The Arcade Building Moan”
  • “Laying in the Graveyard”
  • “The Blues is All Wrong”

Learn more about

Leola Manning

  • Olson, Ted and Tony Russell. The Knoxville Sessions, 1929–1930: Knox County Stomp. Germany: Bear Family Records, 2016.

Keep Learning

More Close-Ups of Women in Old-Time Music

Sally Ann Forrester

Sally Ann Forrester

Sally Ann Forrester - born as Wilene Russell and also known as “Goldie Sue” and “Billie” - was a multi-instrumentalist and the first woman employed by Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys performing publicity on accordion and vocals in the group from 1943 to 1946. She’s...

Jenny Lou Carson

Jenny Lou Carson

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...

Etta Baker

Etta Baker

A master guitarist in Piedmont blues, Etta Baker learned an Appalachian style of fingerpicking from her father Boone Reid, who she sometimes played with at local dances. Music was a big part of her life with several family members playing instruments from the banjo to...

Visit the exhibit

Entry included in full museum admission.