I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #89

From October 1, 2010 through to the end of September 2011, we will, each day, celebrate the life of Bill Monroe by sharing information about him and those people who are associated with his life and music career. This information will include births and deaths; recording sessions; single, LP and CD release dates; and other interesting tidbits. Richard F. Thompson is responsible for the research and compilation of this information. We invite readers to share any tidbits, photos or memories you would like us to include.

  • December 28, 1920 Bessie Lee Mauldin was born in Norwood, Stanley County, North Carolina.

The Carolina Songbird, as Bessie Lee Mauldin was known, was bass player for the Blue Grass Boys for about 10 years from the mid-1950s through to the mid-1960s. She participated in 30 of Bill Monroe’s Decca recording sessions between September 1955 and April 1964.

Initially, she joined Bill Monroe’s entourage in September 1941 as a featured singer in some of his road shows.

Bessie Lee Mauldin provided the back-bone to a wealth of recordings with her bass work featuring on such Decca albums as Mr Blue Grass (DL 4080), Blue Grass Ramble (DL 4266), Blue Grass Special (DL 4382), I’ll Meet You in Church Sunday Morning (DL 4537) and Kentucky Blue Grass (DL 7-5213), and Bill Monroe sings Country Songs (released on the Vocalion label; VL 3702).

She assisted Bill Monroe with the writing of the verses to the Gospel song A Voice From On High.

Also she helped to convince Bill Monroe to work on the folk circuit when Ralph Rinzler suggested that he do more concerts.

She considered herself Monroe’s common-law wife, while Ralph Rinzler, in an article in Sing Out! Magazine (published in Feb-March 1963), mistook her for Monroe’s legal wife. Monroe and Mauldin had a daughter given up for adoption at birth. Her nickname was Georgia Rose as the story is told in the song of the same name.

Letter From My Darling, Used To Be, Can’t You Hear Me Callin’ and Travellin’ Down This Lonesome Road were probably inspired by their stormy relationship.

Work is in progress for a film about the relationship between Bill Monroe and his long-time companion, spearheaded by actor Peter Sarsgaard.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.