Becoming Patsy Cline to Tell Acclaimed Singer’s Shenandoah Valley Story
Winchester, VA, 12/11/12…Opening at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV) on August 30, 2013, and on view through February 2, 2014, the new exhibition Becoming Patsy Cline will tell the story of Virginia “Ginny” Patterson Hensley before she became music icon Patsy Cline, one of the Shenandoah Valley’s most globally recognized personalities.
Acknowledged by many as the most popular and influential female country singer in recording history, Patsy Cline (1932–1963) was the first female solo artist inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Despite a career that was cut short by her tragic death at the age of 30, Patsy Cline’s recordings have sold millions of copies worldwide. The singer also has received numerous posthumous honors and has been the subject of biographies, musicals, plays, and a feature film. Nearly fifty years after Patsy Cline’s death, the popularity of her hit recordings, such as “Crazy,” “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “I Fall to Pieces,” and “Sweet Dreams,” endures today.
Organized by the MSV in partnership with Celebrating Patsy Cline, Inc. (CPC), Becoming Patsy Clinewill be the first museum exhibition to focus almost exclusively on the singer’s early years. Through the use of objects, clothing, and rare photographs, Becoming Patsy Cline will describe the singer’s family history, examine her early influences, and detail the development of her singing career.
Born Virginia Patterson Hensley on September 8, 1932, in Winchester, Virginia, Patsy Cline—known by her friends and family as “Ginny”—moved numerous times before she was 15 years old. InBecoming Patsy Cline, visitors will be introduced to Ginny’s mother, Hilda Patterson Hensley, and learn how Hilda’s independent spirit and devotion shaped Patsy’s character, work ethic, and success. The exhibition will also detail the Shenandoah Valley communities where Ginny lived and describe the struggles her family endured moving from town to town while trying to emerge from poverty.Becoming Patsy Cline will detail the singer’s forays in amateur talent shows, her efforts to become a pop singer, and eventual transformation into a country- music singer. The exhibition will also present the key figures who contributed to Ginny’s rise to fame and detail the pivotal moments that launched her career.
According to MSV Executive Director Dana Hand Evans, the Museum is delighted to partner with Winchester-based Celebrating Patsy Cline. The not-for-profit organization owns and operates the Patsy Cline Historic House in Winchester, which interprets the time period of 1948 to 1957 when Patsy and her family lived there. Besides the furnishings inside the house, the organization’s collection contains many other artifacts, for which the MSV has been providing secure, climate-controlled storage for several years. Becoming Patsy Cline will tell the singer’s broader Shenandoah Valley story providing both the context and venue for display of CPC’s extensive collection. According to Judy Sue Huyett-Kempf, executive director of the Patsy Cline Historic House, the organization now looks forward to sharing these artifacts with the public.
Becoming Patsy Cline, which has been years in the making, is being made possible with the support of Patsy Cline’s husband Charlie Dick and their son and daughter, Randy Dick and Julie Fudge. “The Museum and CPC have our family’s full support and we are excited to have Patsy’s story told in her hometown of Winchester, Virginia,” remarks Charlie Dick.
Douglas Gomery, CPC historian and author of the 2011 book Patsy Cline: The Making of an Icon, is serving as the exhibition’s guest curator. The author of 21 books and more than 500 academic articles, Gomery has taught the history of mass media at a number of universities, including the University of Wisconsin, Northwestern University, New York University, the University of Utrecht (the Netherlands), and the University of Maryland. He retired in 2005 to become the official historian for Celebrating Patsy Cline and Resident Scholar, Special Collections, Mass Media and Culture, at the Library of American Broadcasting, located at the University of Maryland.
The MSV has contracted with Design Minds of Fairfax, Virginia, to design the exhibition. Based in Fairfax, Virginia, Design Minds has a national portfolio that includes museums such as the Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Center in Clintwood, Virginia, and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, DC. The firm also worked with the MSV on the 2011 renovation of the Museum’s R. Lee Taylor Miniatures Gallery.
According to MSV Exhibitions Manager Corwyn Garman, Becoming Patsy Cline will provide a regional interpretation of one of America’s most treasured music legends and the people, communities, and events that shaped her life. Garman notes that there are many people living in the Shenandoah Valley who knew Patsy Cline, and he invites anyone who has stories and objects—such as photographs, letters, and posters—related to Patsy Cline’s Shenandoah Valley roots to contact him at the MSV. Garman may be reached by phone at 540-662-1473, ext. 203, and by email at cgarman@theMSV.org.
Details regarding the opening celebration for Becoming Patsy Cline, educational programming, and additional events related to the exhibition will be announced in the spring of 2013.
The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is located at 901 Amherst Street in Winchester, Virginia. The MSV complex—which includes galleries, six acres of gardens, and the Glen Burnie House—is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Museum galleries are open year-round; the gardens are open April through October. The Glen Burnie House is now closed until 2014 for a preservation project. Daytime admission—which includes access to the gardens and the galleries—is $10 or $8 for seniors and youth ages 13 to 18. Admission is always free to youth ages 12 and under and to MSV Members, and it is free to all every Wednesday from 10 a.m. until noon.
Located minutes from the MSV, at 608 South Kent Street in historic Old Town Winchester, the Patsy Cline Historic House is open April through October from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday. In November and December the house is open on Friday, Saturday (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and Sunday (1 to 4 p.m.). Admission is $8 or $4 for seniors and youth ages 11 to 18. Admission is free to active military and children ages 10 and under. More information about CPC and the house is available online at www.celebratingpatsycline.org.
Additional information about the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Becoming Patsy Cline, and MSV events and exhibitions is available at www.theMSV.org or by calling 540-662-1473, ext. 235.
Julie B. Armel
540-662-1473, ext. 225