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Wanda Jackson

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Maud OK, United States (1954 – present)

Wanda Jackson (born Wanda Lavonne Jackson, October 20, 1937 in Maud, Oklahoma) is an American singer. Having made her debut recordings at the age of nineteen, she became one of the first popular female rock and roll singers in history and as a result, a pioneering and influential figure in female musicianship. She is known as the “Queen (or First Lady) of Rockabilly.”

Jackson was still in high school when country singer Hank Thompson heard her sing on an Oklahoma City radio show and asked her to record with his band in 1954. She dated Elvis Presley, who encouraged her to step away from the country-tinged gospel she had been performing since childhood and try her hand at rock and roll. She developed her own distinctive voice and performed in a variety of styles, from folksy traditional tunes to country twang and high yodels to throaty, suggestive ballads. She was a prolific singer of songs with wry lyrics such as “Fujiyama Mama,” which contained many references to the World War II bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; ironically, it became a #1 hit in Japan. Her biggest hit was 1959’s “Let’s Have a Party.”

Jackson achieved great and continuing success throughout Europe, Asia, and Australia, but has never found the same level of fame in her native United States.

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