About The Artist
Shirley Bates was born in Kansas City, Missouri. She was raised in a musical family. Her mother played the piano and often the evenings would find Shirley and her mom making their own entertainment.
During those early years, she began her fondness towards country music and began to set a goal to one day become a country entertainer.
Her career took west to Southern California where country music was enjoying a lot of popularity and she hoped to become a part of that. She took to taking advantage of any opportunity she could find to showcase her vocal talents. It was a talent show where one of the popular disc jockeys back the, Carl (The Squeakin' Deacon) Moore discovered her. It seems he also had a hand in the discovery of another young female singer, Dinah Shore. The Squeakin' Deacon decided to help out the youngster who had a strong desire to be in the music business.
With that boost of confidence, she took her guitar and headed over to audition for Forman Phillips who had the popular "Forman Phillips County Barn Dance" radio show at the time. Mr. Phillips must have liked what he saw and heard for soon she was a part of the show and became known as "The Sweetheart of the County Barn Dance."
The Forman Phillips County Barn Dance moved from just being a radio show to being a live television broadcast. During that time, Shirley met and performed with many of the major stars of that era including Ray Price and Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.
Around that time, a local record producer had heard her and wanted to sign her to a contract with his Fabor Records label. At the time, Fabor Robison had such stars as Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves and Ned Miller under contract.
Shirley stayed with the County Barn Dance show until it ran is course and went off the air. But she continued to do personal appearances and entertain audiences and promote her own recordings. She wanted to find the right music to sing, so that led to the beginning of her songwriting.
We should note that one interesting anecdote to the Forman Phillips County Barn Dance is that the director was Dick Brown. Dick was later formed "Cambria Studios" that produced the first color animated series for television, "Clutch Cargo".
But, by this time, Fabor Robison had retired from the music business. Shirley had also gotten married and began a family. But she kept performing. When her two sons were old enough and showing their musical skills, Shirley and her boys formed a family band. The trio began working at various clubs and rodeo dances.
Out of the blue, she received a call from Fabor Robison. It seems he had gotten tired of retirement and wanted to return to the music business and recording. A session was in the works for Shirley, but their parternship ended with Mr. Robison's sudden demise. Before passing away, Fabor had told her that he had visited the Country Music Hall of Fame and told her that the recordings she and others had made for his label were in their archives.
Shirley is also an author of a book. When her father was near death in the hospital, struggling with the ravages of emphysema, her daughterly love brought him back to health. And she used that experience to draw out of him the life he had lead as a "carnie" - and the book is "The Life of A Carnie" that chronicles her father's life, Colonel V. W. Bates.
Shirley continues to record new material. Her latest CD, "New Walls" can
be purchased directly from her for $8.99 plus $4.00 shipping:
Credits & Sources
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It's about the people, the music, the history.