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Kay Starr

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Kay Starr (born Katherine Laverne Starks on a reservation in Dougherty, Oklahoma) was a popular singer with work transcending , , , and more that earned her chart success throughout the , best known today for her blockbuster hit “Wheel of Fortune”. Her father, Harry, was a full-blooded Iroquois Indian; her mother, Annie, was of mixed Irish and American Indian heritage. When her father got a job installing water sprinkler systems, the family moved to Dallas, Texas.

While her father worked for the Automatic Sprinkler Company, her mother raised chickens, and Kay used to sing to the chickens in the coop. As a result of the fact that her aunt, Nora, was impressed by her singing, she began to sing at the age of seven on a Dallas radio station, WRR, first in a talent competition where she finished third one week and won every week thereafter, then with her own weekly fifteen minute show. She sang pop and “hillbilly” songs with a piano accompaniment. By the age of ten, she was making $3 a night, a lot of money in the Depression days.

As a result of her father’s changing jobs, her family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and she continued performing on the radio, singing “Western swing music,” still mostly a mix of country and pop. It was while she was on the Memphis radio station WMPS that, as a result of misspellings in her fan mail, she and her parents decided to give her the name “Kay Starr”.

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