One of the many talents discovered and nurtured by Chicago DJ John Lair, Lily May Ledford was a fine banjo player and fiddler who led a popular all-girl group called the Coon Creek Girls. Ledford was discovered when she ventured from her rural Kentucky home to Chicago for a talent contest and was offered a spot on the National Barn Dance program that Lair oversaw. The DJ encouraged her to stick with the mountain woman routine and eschew all trappings of sophistication such as makeup or pretty dresses. Ledford became a rough-hewn backwoods kind of girl fronting the Coon Creek Girls, a group formed by Lair when he moved to Kentucky to produce another country music radio show there. The group included Ledford's sister on guitar as well as Esther Koehler on mandolin and Evelyn Lange on bass. They were an immediate sensation and continued performing in the Appalachian area for another two decades.
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