June Holm

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Yodelling cowgirl of the outback, one of Australia's earliest female country stars (and still one of its most famous).
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Artist Biography by

b. 14 June 1925, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (but grew up on a farm by the Clarence River in New South Wales), d. 31 December 1966. One of the first female Australian country artists, and in spite of her relatively short career, she is held in very high esteem by followers of the music for her excellent guitar playing and exceptionally clear vocals and yodelling. Her mother played steel guitar and ukulele but it is claimed that June taught herself to play guitar while riding her pony to school, and only took up singing and yodelling in protest of the fact that all the popular country music singers were men. She made her first public appearance in 1935 and for a time sang with Beverley Thorn, mainly featuring Hawaiian-type music; however, Holm leaned more towards hillbilly music, and the duo split in 1939. She recorded some radio transcription discs that year and appeared on ABC. In the early 40s, she established herself and during the war years, working with a Red Cross entertainment unit, she was very popular with Australian servicemen. On 28 January 1942, she made her only six recordings, which included ‘Happy Yodelling Cowgirl’ and ‘Daddy Was A Yodelling Cowboy’. In view of the popularity of her records and the fact that she remained active on stage and radio for several years after making them, it is strange that she made no further recordings. After the war, she toured all the Australian states with a Stage Spectacular show.

In 1948, Holm married a government official called Hayes (Leo or Tom), whose work took him to various overseas postings, and they spent some years in Nigeria and Suva. She appeared on Brisbane radio in 1958 but retired from entertaining two years later. Tragedy struck when her mother and father died and then, early in 1966, her husband died suddenly, leaving her three months pregnant with twins. She became very depressed and underwent medical treatment. She died on 31 December 1966, as a result of an overdose of barbiturates - whether accidental or deliberate is still open to conjecture. She was buried in an unmarked grave on 3 January 1967, the day before the twins celebrated their first birthday, leaving them and her other three children orphans. In 1980, an EP was released to raise funds to provide a memorial for her grave and in December 1981, her six recordings, plus a souvenir booklet and six songs by Zeta Burns (who had fronted the memorial campaign), were released. June Holm was known as Australia’s Yodelling Cowgirl and her three 78s on Regal Zonophone are now collectable records.