Date of Award

August 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music



First Advisor

Gillian M. Rodger

Committee Members

Martin J. Rosenblum


Janis Martin, LaVern Baker, Rhythm and Blues, Rockabilly Music, Rock and Roll, Women Performers


Rockabilly music is an exciting and vibrant style of early Rock and Roll that originated in the 1950s. With its aggressive beat and anti-establishment connotations, rockabilly is considered a widely male-dominated genre, a point supported by the majority of scholarship and literature on the subject. However, a review of available contemporary recordings, television shows, advertisements and interviews show that women were an integral part of the history of rockabilly music. In this thesis, I will discuss women in rockabilly music and address how issues relating to gender and race in 1950s culture affected women performers. More specifically, I will examine the experiences of two performers, LaVern Baker and Janis Martin, concentrating on formative and important events in their careers and how they affected rockabilly music overall. I will also include interview transcripts with Janis Martin and her mother, Jewel Martin, that are previously unpublished.