Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life

Remembering The Greatest Songwriter You’ve Never Heard Of



You probably don’t know her name, but you definitely know her songs. Rose Marie McCoy passed away recently at the age of 92. Here’s a link to her New York Times obituary. On this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, we’re remembering Rose and her music.



In the 1950’s and early 1960’s American pop music saw the melding of different genres – rhythm & blues, country, and rock & roll – bringing together black and white, northern and southern musical styles.

Rose was one of the most prolific songwriters of that era. She wrote more than 800 songs recorded by singers like Nat King Cole, Elvis Presley, Dizzy Gillespie, Ike & Tina Turner, Big Maybelle, Ruth Brown, James Brown, Sarah Vaughan, Johnny Mathis and Aretha Franklin.

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.

In 2009, we profiled Rose for NPR. You’ll hear that story on this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast. And you can hear more of her songs at NPR.org.


Radio Diaries is part of Radiotopia from PRX, a collective of the best story-driven podcasts on the planet. We just expanded our line-up! Checkout the new shows, “Criminal” “The Heart” and “The Allusionist” at radiotopia.fm.

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