Singer Molly O’Day (July 9, 1923-December 5, 1987) was born Lois LaVerne ‘‘Dixie Lee’’ Williamson in Pike County, Kentucky. Molly learned guitar and sang while brothers ‘‘Skeets’’ played fiddle and ‘‘Duke’’ played banjo. In 1939, when Skeets went to WCHS radio in Charleston, Dixie joined him briefly, then went to WBTH Williamson that fall. In the spring of 1940, they moved to WJLS Beckley. Relocating to WHIS Bluefield, she met the leader of the ‘‘Forty-Niners,’’ Leonard ‘‘Lynn’’ Davis (December 15, 1914-December 18, 2000) and the two married in April 1941. They moved frequently during the next five years, with Dixie Lee adopting the name Molly O’Day while working at WHAS Louisville. Lynn and Molly performed duets, but Molly’s solo numbers had the bigger impact, as she pioneered the position of solo female singer.
Country music pioneer Fred Rose signed Molly to a Columbia Records contract in 1946, wanting her to record Hank Williams compositions. Lynn and Molly had already learned ‘‘Tramp on the Street’’ from Williams, and Molly recorded that song and seven others in December 1946. During the next five years she cut 36 songs for Columbia including ‘‘Matthew Twenty-Four’’ and ‘‘Teardrops Falling in the Snow.’’
In early 1950, Molly and Lynn gave up show business to serve the Lord. They returned to Huntington just before their conversion, and were baptized in the Ohio River. Molly sang only in churches and Lynn became a minister. During the 1960s, they recorded albums for two record labels. In 1973, Molly and Lynn started a gospel record program at WEMM-FM Huntington. After Molly died, Lynn continued the show until his own death in 2000. He began each program with Molly’s recording of ‘‘Living the Right Life Now.’’ Molly O’Day was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
Written by Abby Gail Goodnite
Goodnite, Abby Gail & Ivan M. Tribe. 'Living the Right Life': Now Lynn Davis & Molly O'Day. Goldenseal, (Spring 1998).