Ledbetter to Discuss 'Broadcasting the Ozarks: Si Siman and Country Music at the Crossroads'

FPL Author Talk with Kitty Ledbetter
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FPL Author Talk with Kitty Ledbetter

Kitty Ledbetter, author of Broadcasting the Ozarks: Si Siman and Country Music at the Crossroads, will give a book talk at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at the Fayetteville Public Library. The event is part of the library's U of A Press Author Spotlight Series.

Broadcasting the Ozarks explores the vibrant country music scene that emerged in Springfield, Missouri, in the 1930s and thrived for half a century. Central to this history is the Ozark Jubilee (1955-60), the first regularly broadcast live country music show on network television. Dubbed the "king of the televised barn dances," the show introduced the Ozarks to viewers across America and put Springfield in the running with Nashville for dominance of the country music industry—with the Jubilee's producer, Si Siman, at the helm.

Siman's life story is almost as remarkable as the show he produced. He was booking Tommy Dorsey, Ella Fitzgerald and Glenn Miller during the mid-1930s while still a high school student and produced nationally syndicated country music radio shows in the decades that followed. Siman was a promotional genius with an ear for talent, a persuasive gift for gab and the energy and persistence to make things happen for many future Country Music Hall of Famers, including Chet Atkins, Porter Wagoner, the Browns and Brenda Lee.

Following the Jubilee's five-year run, Siman had a hand in some of the greatest hits of the 20th century as a music publisher, collaborating with such songwriters as rockabilly legend and fellow Springfieldian Ronnie Self, who wrote Brenda Lee's signature hit, "I'm Sorry," and Wayne Carson, who wrote Willie Nelson's "Always on My Mind." Although Siman had numerous opportunities to find success in bigger cities, he chose to do it all from his hometown in the Ozarks.

Bill C. Malone, author of Country Music USA and emeritus professor of history at Tulane University, said, "Who would have thought of Springfield, Missouri? Well, if you were alive during the 1950s and 1960s, you would have been well aware of the bustling musical scene in that city, and of the centerpiece of that activity, the nationally televised Ozark Jubilee. And overseeing it all was the multifaceted promoter and broadcasting executive Si Siman, whose genius for finding and promoting musical talent, both in and outside Springfield, was unsurpassed in the decades before his death in 1994."

Ledbetter is professor emerita of English at Texas State University. She formerly served as editor of the Journal of Texas Music History. Before entering academia, she was a country music disc jockey at radio stations in Missouri, Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina.

The presentation will last approximately one hour and be followed by an audience Q&A and a book signing. Pearl's Books will be on hand to sell books. The event is free and open to the public.

Fayetteville Public Library is located at 401 W. Mountain St.


Meagan Bonnell, sales and publicity manager
University of Arkansas Press
479-445-9764, mbonnel@uark.edu


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