Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life

The Greatest Songwriter You’ve Never Heard Of

In the 1950’s and early 1960’s American pop music saw the melding of different genres —rhythm & blues, country, and rock & roll — resulting in hit records by legendary names: Ike and Tina. Elvis Presley. Nat King Cole. However, the songwriters behind these hits often didn’t get much credit.

This is the story of one of the most prolific songwriters of that era. You probably don’t know her name, but Rose Marie McCoy’s songs have been recorded by Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, Dizzy Gillespie, Ike & Tina Turner, Big Maybelle, Ruth Brown, Sarah Vaughan, and Johnny Mathis.

Born in 1922, Rose grew up in a tin shack in rural Arkansas. Her success was even more remarkable in an era when blacks and women were largely excluded from the business side of the music industry. But despite publishing over 800 songs, Rose Marie McCoy remains largely unknown.




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