February 7, 1921 – September 13, 2011 Remembering Wilma Lee Cooper

Remembering Wilma Lee Cooper (February 7, 1921 – September 13, 2011) called the “First Lady of Bluegrass” – WILMA LEE (AND STONEY) COOPER: Wilma Lee, her parents and two sisters had a gospel group in the 1930’s called the Leary Family. Dale T. “Stoney” Cooper was hired as the Leary family’s fiddle player. He married Wilma Lee in 1940. Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper performed together for 38 years and in 1957, became members of the Grand Ole Opry. Their band, The Clinch Mountain Clan, was one of the first to feature the Dobro. In1974, the Smithsonian Institution named her “the first lady of bluegrass” and in 1994, the IBMA presented her with a Distinguished Achievement Award.

About the author

I enjoy researching Bluegrass, Bluegrass Gospel, and Country birthdays, anniversaries and interesting trivia dates. I am a piano/organ performance major who has taught privately and served as church accompanist since 1968 in North Carolina and Central Kentucky. Although classically trained, I appreciate all genres of music. My mother, who was also a church musician and taught public school music grades K-12, knew that Bluegrass music was the purest American music. She always introduced her students to this fine genre and began my musical studies with her at age 2. Bach to Berachah Valley, Mozart to Jimmy Martin, Sibelius to Stanley Brothers, the list goes on, I hope you find some moments of enjoyment and learn a few interesting facts along the way.
I am thankful for the many resources we have at our fingertips including Google. FaceBook and BluegrassBios by Wayne Rice. It was he who inspired me to tackle the task of trying to pass on knowledge about Bluegrass music. Thanks Wayne~!
Lou Ellen Wilkie

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