The Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame announced a new class of inductees Tuesday, and for the first time, women will make up the entire list.
The nine inductees include country music singer and Grammy winner Jody Miller, the first female record producer in country music Gail Davies and former child star Gayla Peevey, who rose to fame with the song "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas."
Other inductees include country singers Katrina Elam and Kellie Coffey, while posthumous inductees include early rock-and-roll musician Lorrie Collins, teacher and composer Evelyn LaRue Pittman, and country music singers Gus Hardin & Molly Bee.
The Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City on November 27th.
Earlier this year, the hall of fame inducted three Christian music artists—Smokie Norful, Point of Grace and Dennis Jernigan.
Molly Bee was mostly known for her 1952 rendition of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” at the age of 13. The Oklahoma City native started her music career when she was just 10, she released the singles “Lovesick Blues,” “Don’t Go Courtin’ in a Hot Rod Ford,” “Young Romance,” “5 Points of a Star” and “Don’t Look Back.” Bee also appeared on television and movies. She had a regular role on “Hometown Jamboree,” “The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show” and “The Pinky Lee Show.” She hit the big screen in 1954 with “Corral Cuties” and also appeared in “Going Steady,” “Chartroose Caboose” and “The Young Swingers.”
Country singer Kellie Coffey moved to Los Angeles after graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a vocal performance degree. The Moore native made ends meet as a singing waitress before recording songs for Disney theme parks and the television show Walker, Texas Ranger. Her 2002 country-pop debut earned Coffey comparisons to Faith Hill and Sara Evans, and the top-ten hit “When You Lie Next to Me” spent thirty-three weeks on the chart. In 2003, she was named the Top New Female Vocalist from the Academy of Country Music.
Lorrie Collins was one of the early leading women of rock and roll music. Raised on a dairy farm near Sapulpa, Lorrie and her younger brother Larry formed the rockabilly duo The Collins Kids in the 1950s. The duo would tour with Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins and perform on national television shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show and Steve Allen Show. The Collins Kids recorded dozens of songs for Columbia Records, including "Hop, Skip and Jump," "Whistle Bait" and "Hoy Hoy."
Before becoming country music’s first female record producer, Gail Davies was a session singer for Neil Young and Hoyt Axton. In 1974, the Broken Bow native dueted with Roger Miller on The Merv Griffin Show, passing on a European tour with Frank Zappa (who called Davies “the ballsiest chick he’d ever seen on stage”). She had five top 10 country singles, including "Round the Clock Lovin'" and "I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)."
Katrina Elam is a country singer/songwriter and actor. The Bray native had a top 30 country hit with "No End in Sight" in 2004 and toured with Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts. Her songs have been performed by Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts and Eli Young Band. Elam acted in the 2010 film Pure Country 2: The Gift.
Leon Russell once called Gus Hardin’s voice “a combination of Tammy Wynette, Otis Redding, and a truck driver.” That unique, bluesy voice earned her a Best New Female Vocalist award from the Academy of Country Music in 1984. Hardin had two top-ten country hits, “After the Last Goodbye” in 1983 and “All Tangled up in Love,” a 1985 duet with Earl Thomas Conley.
Jody Miller is a pop, country and Christian music singer, whose musical career got a jumpstart when Oklahoma actor Dale Robertson introduced her to a record executive. The Blanchard native won a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1966 for the title track, beating out fellow Oklahoma native Molly Bee. “Queen of the House” was a response to Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” and quickly became her signature song, landing her appearances on television shows such as Shindig, Hullabaloo, and American Bandstand.
Ten-year-old Gayla Peevey rose to fame with the novelty Christmas song "I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas" in 1953. Inspired by the song, WKY-TV and the Oklahoma City Times launched a fundraiser to purchase a hippo for the Oklahoma City Zoo. Enough money was raised in a few weeks time to purchase a three-year-old, 700 pound baby hippo named Matilda, who was presented by Peevey to the zoo on Christmas Eve. The Ponca City native later had a short-lived music career in the early 1960s, under the pseudonym Jamie Horton.
Evelyn LaRue Pittman
Evelyn LaRue Pittman was an author, teacher and composer, who studied at the Julliard School of Music. The McAlester and Oklahoma City native's most notable work was "Freedom Child," an opera about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.