Almost 40 Years After Vanishing, Bobbie Gentry To Be Placed In Songwriter’s Hall Of Fame
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It’s nearly been four decades since the world has seen Bobbie Gentry in a public setting, and for many, they never knew what truly happened to her. Long before the age of smartphones, high-tech websites, and information everywhere – Bobbie Gentry simply vanished…
Now, 38 years after her one and only missed concert (which would be the last anyone ever heard of her) Bobbie Gentry is being inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame…but what does that mean for this notoriously reclusive woman?
Bobbie Gentry, born Roberta Lee Streeter, was just 23 years old when her timeless ballad, “Ode To Billie Joe,” hit the charts and took off like wildfire, selling more than three million copies and topping the country, pop, rock, and easy listening charts.
However, in a flash that was as quick as her rise to fame, Gentry would disappear from the face of the earth after a series of inexplicable events – never to be seen publicly again. Almost as mysterious as the unnamed item Billie Joe McAllister threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge before taking his own life, Bobbie Gentry would leave the world of fame and fortune for another life that nobody knew about.
In 1967, her multiple Grammy-winning song “Ode To Billie Joe,” was issued to the charts – not as an overproduced single with a lot of fanfare, but using the original demo recording Gentry submitted along with an added string section.
Gentry would go on to find great success from her music, with popular duets alongside Glen Campbell, songwriting wins with Reba McEntire’s cover of “Fancy,” and she became the first woman to ever host a variety show on the BBC.
During the latter section of her nearly two decades in the public eye, Gentry spent a majority of it in Las Vegas exploring her own creativity in new depths. She crafted glamorous, glitzy, and fabulous stage shows that were lauded by critics for their striking set design. Additionally, she has been credited with designing a majority of the wild costumes and the impressive dance choreography used in those over-the-top shows.
Less than 20 years after her smash breakthrough into the world of entertainment, Bobbie Gentry performed a career-first…and last. Set to take the stage with Mac Davis during a 1983 concert, Gentry canceled the show abruptly – something she had never done before. After that canceled performance, Gentry was spotted a handful of times at industry events, and then utterly vanished without a trace, withdrawing from the public eye to lead a secret, private life.
Now, Bobbie Gentry joins folks like Steve Earle, Kent Blazy, Brett James, and Spooner Oldham as the newest class of inductees into the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. All of the inductees will be added during the November 2021 event. That event will hold the inductees for both 2020 (listed above) and 2021 (yet to be announced).
Watch Bobbie Gentry sing one of her biggest hits below in a vintage video.