Though her name is not well known, Rose Marie McCoy was one of the most prolific songwriters of the last century. Her songs were sung by some of history’s greatest artists, including Elvis Presley, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Ike and Tina Turner, Big Maybelle and more. Born in 1922 in rural Arkansas – often referred to as the birthplace of the blues- Rose grew up helping her siblings raise chicken and cotton, until she began wondering if she could use her voice and her songwriting to help lift her family out of poverty.

“Rose Marie was breaking down barriers in the music industry while leaving a mark in history.”

In 1942, she headed to NYC to give it a shot and start her music journey, in a time where female songwriters were few and far between. Working as an independent songwriter, she reportedly turned down offers from prominent record labels who wanted to sign her in favor of maintaining the freedom to write whatever she wanted, across genres, in her own unique way. 

She was able to break into a white male-dominated music business in the early 1950s, publishing over 850 songs, and even produced records and created her very own publishing firm.  

Rose Marie McCoy passed away on January 20, 2015, but the mark she left in the world of music lives on and inspire. To learn more about this incredible woman and her legendary career, read her full biography.

Photos provided by:
NY Times
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