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Wilma Lee Cooper

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Born Wilma Lee Leary, songwriter and singer Wilma Cooper was raised in a well-known musical group that sang at local churches and festivals, billing themselves as the Leary Family. At one point, the Leary’s were even invited by Eleanor Roosevelt to perform at a national folk festival. Upon graduating high school Wilma obtained a degree in banking at Davis and Elkins College. Near the same time she met and married guitarist Stoney Cooper. For the next 40 years the two performed as one of country music’s most popular duos. Their performances, including a ten year stint on Wheeling West Virginia’s “Jamboree” and another decade performing at the “Grand Ole Opry,” led to recording contracts with both Columbia and Decca. Wilma, who is a skillful banjoist, guitarist and organist, wrote or co-wrote several of their most successful compositions including “Cheated Too,” “Loving You,” “I Tell My Heart,” and “Heartbreak Street.” After Stoney’s death in the mid-’70s Wilma continued to perform, once again joining the cast of the Opry. She is featured among the Smithsonian Institute’s collection of great singers.

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