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“Queen of the Hillbillies”

Photo by Christy Porter
Dr. Kristene Sutliff, co-editor of “Queen of the Hillbillies – Writings of May Kennedy McCord,” addressed attendees of the book signing hosted by the Texas County Library-Houston.

By Christy Porter, Managing Editor

The Houston Branch of the Texas County Library hosted a book signing for “Queen of the Hillbillies – Writings of May Kennedy McCord,” on Saturday.

Texas County Library Director Louise Beasley introduced Cabool native and Missouri State University emeritus professor Dr. Kristene Sutliff, who shared McCord’s history, career, personality and force with a full room of attendees.

Over the course of five years, Sutliff and McCord’s granddaughter, Patti McCord, researched and compiled what they considered to be the best of McCord’s columns, articles and stories, along with photographs for the book.

Sutliff also spoke of “behind the scenes” conversations and shared memories from her collaborations with Patti in selecting the final compositions to be enjoyed by readers.

Quoting her father, who listened to McCord on the radio, Sutliff shared, “That May, she sure is a character.”

After reading the works of McCord one could concur that she was indeed a happy and inspiring character as evidenced in her many accomplishments as a folklorist, writer, radio personality, singer and promoter of the Ozarks.

Although the book focuses on the column “Hillbilly Heartbeats” that ran in Springfield newspapers, other publications have been included. McCord was also known for her radio talk shows on Springfield and St. Louis airwaves and her collection and archives of folk ballads, which she also sang. Her oral and numerous written collections are archived history for future posterity.

All royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to a scholarship in May’s name at Missouri State University.

“Queen of the Hillbillies” is published by University of Arkansas Press and is available for purchase at, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

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