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About The Artist
Ted and Wanda Henderson were a husband and wife team-married April 29, 1944-who enjoyed considerable popularity at WLAC (Nashville's other significant station for country music) in the late 1940s.
Although they apparently never made any recordings, their songbooks circulated widely and by all accounts, they had an excellent country duet, accompanied by their respective mandolin and guitar.
Their story begins in Hundred, West Virginia on November 14, 1919 with the birth of Vincent Theodore Henderson, usually called "Ted." Although some accounts give Ted's birth in 1921, his appearance in the 1920 census indicates that he was two years older than his later claim. Ted had an older sister, Dorothy Maxine (Radio Dot), and a younger brother, Jack Dorson, who also had musical careers. An older brother, John W. "Brother John" Henderson (1915-1993), was not a musician but worked as an announcer, manager and booking agent.
Ted first played on radio at WBLK Clarksburg, West Virginia in 1936, but he and Jack worked regularly and briefly with Radio Dot and Smokey at WMMN Fairmont and Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Jack and Ted also worked with a fiddler nicknamed "Cobby" (real name unknown) at WMMN and later called themselves the "Sunshine Brothers." With the coming of World War II, both found themselves in military service. Ted's army career was brief, being discharged after a few months; Jack stayed in the service until 1946.
Ted then went to WMBS Uniontown, Pennsylvania and formed a group called the Log Cabin Folks that traveled to such Midwestern stations for short periods as KXEL Waterloo, Iowa and KFEQ St. Joseph, Missouri.
Ted arrived at KWTO Springfield, Missouri in March of 1944, with a front page story on the stations KWTO Dial monthly publication. The article stated that he would become a member of Red Belcher's "Cornfield Follies." They told readers he was said to be a "hillbilly swoon crooner." Up to his arrival at the station, he had been on the air for about eight years, listing the stations he had entertained listeners as well. He was also part of the South Quality Network - which was the West Virginia State Network as well as the Alabama Network. They wrote that his first efforts as an entertainers was at the age of 15 as part of a medicine show that toured 16 states. The magazine shows he had his own 15 minute show on Saturdays.
Ted met a girl named (Violet) Wanda Smith. Wanda had been born near Buffalo, Missouri on October 1, 1927. Her entry into music came through forming a duet with her sister Helen (1923- 2002). The Smith Sisters began their career on radio at KWTO in March 1943. Ted met Wanda there where they soon fell in love and married in late April of 1945. KWTO reported they had moved to North Carolina.
In February 1955, the Asheville, NC reported that the "Chesterfield Sweethearts" Ted and Wanda were being heard over WWNC every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8:15am. They were "singing and playing familiary hillbilly melodies."
In 1945, they came to WLAC Nashville where their career as studio stars boomed. While WLAC artists did not tour extensively in the manner of WSM artists, most recorded sparingly or not at all. Nonetheless, they made a respectable living as long as the system thrived for a few years. Radio artists at WLAC included Big Jeff Bess, Mac Odell, Ted and Wanda, and after 1947 Jack and Louise Henderson. Ted and Wanda made no recordings but published several songbooks.
The couple eventually left show business and returned to Wanda's hometown of Buffalo, Missouri. They went into the concession business working fairs and carnivals throughout the Midwest in the warmer season. During the colder months Ted did carpenter, plumbing and electrical work while Wanda was a homemaker. Together they reared a son, John, named after Ted's oldest brother.
Ted died on April 1, 1995, some months after the couple's 50th wedding anniversary.
Wanda lived on another fifteen years and was a faithful member of the Bible Baptist Church. She passed away on April 22, 2010.
Credits & Sources