Bobbie Gentry

Bobbie Gentry
Country:United States Of America


Roberta Streeter is partially of Portuguese ancestry. Her parents divorced shortly after her birth, and she was raised in poverty by her father, on her grandparents' farm in Chickasaw County, Mississippi. After her grandmother traded one of the family's milk cows for a neighbor's piano, seven-year-old Bobbie composed her first song, "My Dog Sergeant Is a Good Dog". She attended elementary school in Greenwood, Mississippi, and began teaching herself to play guitar, bass, and banjo. At 13, she moved to Arcadia, California to live with her mother, Ruby Bullington Streeter. She had a half sister Rosemary in Vancouver,Canada. Her sister was much younger and grew up to be a teacher.

Roberta Streeter graduated from Palm Valley School in 1960. She chose the stage name "Bobbie Gentry" from the film Ruby Gentry and began performing at local country clubs. Encouraged by Bob Hope, she performed in a revue of Les Folies Bergeres nightclub of Las Vegas. Gentry then moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA as a philosophy major, and supported herself by working in clerical jobs, occasionally performing at local nightclubs. She later transferred to the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music to hone her composition and performing skills. In 1964, she made her recording debut, with a pair of duets - "Ode to Love" and "Stranger in the Mirror" with rockabilly singer Jody Reynolds.

Gentry married casino entrepreneur Bill Harrah in Reno, Nevada, but the marriage lasted only briefly. In 1979, Gentry married singer-songwriter Jim Stafford. Their marriage lasted 11 months. Gentry had one son with Stafford by the name of Tyler.

Musical career
In 1967, Gentry produced her first single, "Mississippi Delta"/"Ode to Billie Joe", detailing the suicide of Billie Joe McAllister, who flings himself off the Tallahatchie Bridge. The song used a traditional blues scale, lowered the 3rd and the 7th degree. The track topped the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks in August 1967 and placed #4 in the year-end chart. The single hit #8 on Billboard Black Singles and #13 in the U.K. Top 40. The single sold over three million copies. The Rolling Stone listed it among the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2001.

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