Sunshine Sue

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Mary Higdon Workman, known as "Sunshine Sue" during her country music career, was America’s first female radio emcee. Her career began in Illinois, where she became a regular performer on Chicago's…
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Mary Higdon Workman, known as "Sunshine Sue" during her country music career, was America’s first female radio emcee. Her career began in Illinois, where she became a regular performer on Chicago's National Barn Dance radio program during the early ‘40s. From 1946 to 1957, she served as the host of The Old Dominion Barn Dance, another country music variety show held every Saturday night in Richmond, Virginia. Although housed in the city’s Lyric Theater, the shows were broadcast to a national audience by WRVA, which helped The Old Dominion Barn Dance play a large role in the popularization of homespun country music. Sue became known as “Queen of the Hillbillies” for her participation, and the Old Dominion Barn Dance served as a launching pad for the likes of Chet Atkins, the Carter Sisters, and Earl Scruggs. The show moved to the nearby Bellevue Theater in 1957, with booking agent Carlton Haney taking over for Sunshine Sue, who retired shortly thereafter.