PRETTY GOOD FOR A GIRL - Women in Bluegrass by Murphy Hicks Henry BOOK: HENRY
(Univ. of Illinois Press, 2013) 477 pages, softbound. Going back even 20 years ago, any Bluegrass fan would have been dumbfounded to think that there could ever be a huge book like this (over 460 pages) devoted strictly to women who have played Bluegrass music. Murphy Henry—herself an excellent Scruggs style banjo player who was involved with the music as early as the mid- 1970s—has done a superb job in documenting thewomen who have contributed so much to Bluegrass. The book is arranged sensibly, covering the subject by decades: the 44 sub-chapters each feature an important woman of that time, though not all the ladies went on to become as notable as Claire Lynch, Lynn Morris, Laurie Lewis or Missy Raines. Understandably, the more lengthy and extensive monographs are devoted to Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent and Kristen Scott Benson, as well as the really early artists like Wilma Lee Cooper, Ola Belle Reed, Rose Maddox and Bessie Lee Mauldin. Obviously, a lot of good research went into this book (which also includes an excellent index and bibliography). There’s a lot of fascinating information provided, but it is all well written and reads easily. This should be an inspiration to today’s rowing legions of young women who happen to love Bluegrass. HIGHLY recommended.