Songwriter Betty Jean Robinson first emerged in the 1960's Nashville scene, penning several of hits (and lesser-known album tracks) for some of the biggest stars of the era. Decca Records briefly groomed her as a performing artist, most notably pairing her with honktonk balladeer Carl Belew in the early 'Seventies. Later on, Robinson moved decisively into the world of Southern/country gospel, starting her own Melody Mountain label, as well as hosting a gospel music TV show also named after her rural Tennessee home. Robinson has recorded dozens of albums, some of which are profiled below. Here's a quick look at her career...
Betty Jean Robinson & Carl Belew "When My Baby Sings His Song" (Decca, 1972) (LP)
Although she'd been in Nashville for most of the 'Sixties and had great success as a songwriter, Robinson was pretty much off the radar in terms of her own celebrity. In the early 'Seventies Decca Records, which had recently signed honkytonker Carl Belew to its roster paired the two up for this album of duets, many of which had been released the previous year as singles. This was Robinson's first full album and (I believe) her only secular LP. One single, Robinson's own "All I Need Is You," hit #51 on Billboard, but that wasn't enough for Decca to keep Belew on board when they cleaned house in 1973-74 and re-branded as MCA Records. Robinson took a few more swings, though, with a handful of solo tracks released over the next year or two, with her last single on MCA, "On The Way Home," breaking into the Top Fifty in the fall of '74. She then moved to the 4-Star label for her next album, a gospel set which served as her transition into the indie world of Southern gospel and Christian country music.
Betty Jean Robinson "On Silver Wings" (4 Star Records, 1975) (LP)
Hanging around in the back forty wasn't enough to wow the new suits at MCA, so Robinson joined George Morgan on the roster of a newly-revamped version of the classic hillbilly-country label, 4 Star Records, which had gone into decline during the LP era, and got sold to some would-be hotshots in the mid-1970s. They bought the brand and moved the label, such as it was, from the West Coast out to Nashville, which is where Robinson signed on... This was her first gospel album, and scored a minor hit, "God Is Good," which came in at #87 and was her last Billboard entry on the Country charts. The flipside of the single was a version of "All I Need Is You," the hit from her previous album; the track is also included on this album.
Betty Jean Robinson "Songs I Grew Up On" (Melody Mountain Records, 1976) (LP)
Betty Jean Robinson "On The Way Home" (Melody Mountain Records, 1976) (LP)
Betty Jean Robinson "Just Betty Jean Robinson" (Lamb & Lion Records, 1977) (LP)
Betty Jean Robinson "Totally Free" (Melody Mountain Records, 1979) (LP)
Betty Jean Robinson "Goin' Back Home" (Melody Mountain Records, 19--?) (LP)
Betty Jean Robinson & Curly Seckler "There's Gonna Be A Singing!" (CMH Records, 1981) (LP)
Betty Jean Robinson "When I See His Face" (Melody Mountain Records, 1986) (LP)
Betty Jean Robinson "Singin' For Daddy" (Melody Mountain Records, 1989) (LP)
(Produced by Tom Pick)
A sweet set of smooth bluegrass-country gospel oldies, produced in a style strongly reminiscent of Emmylou Harris's early work with Brian Ahern. Robinson sounds Dolly-esque as usual, and is joined by Doug Jernigan on steel guitar and dobro, as well as a vocal group that includes Carol Lee Cooper (Wilma Lee's daughter), Laverna Moore (who worked with Cooper as part of the Carol Lee Singers), as well as pop/country singer Sandy Posey, who had moved into the gospel field in the '70s. All together, they recreate to "Trio" sound of Emmylou, Dolly and Linda Ronstadt. Sometimes the arrangements are a bit sedate, but overall, it's pretty nice. Definitely worth a spin.
Betty Jean Robinson "Bluegrass Gospel" (Melody Mountain Records, 1991) (CD)
Hick Music Index