Some great singers performing at an early age as part of church services, and others at family gatherings. Kay Starr began singing in the backyard ffor the family chickens!
It wasn't recorded if Kay's singing had any effect on egg production, but an aunt was impressed enough to arrange for Kay to appear on Dallas radio and make the talent show circuit. By the age of ten she had a 15 minute show singing pop and "hillbilly" songs, and making $3 a night; not bad at all for a pre-teen during the depression!
Kay stayed with radio performing when the family moved to Memphis in 1935. When she was 15 the Joe Venuti orchestra was contracted to appear at a Memphis hotel with their female vocalist. They didn't have a female vocalist, but when they heard Kay on the radio and asked her to join them. Because she was still in junior high, her parents insisted on a midnight curfew. She stayed mostly with Venuti for the nest few years, but did have short gigs with Bob Crosby and Glenn Miller.
After high school Kay moved to Los Angeles, where she became part of Capitol Records' stable of girl singers. Because the record label was preparing for a possible musicians strike, they kept the female singers busy building a back-log of unreleased material, but Kay was junior enough that she was forced to record "the left-overs", mostly older material from years past. She returned to her native Oklahoma around 1950 and heard a recording of Bonaparte's Retreat played on fiddle. The tune delighted her enough that she contacted Roy Acuff directly. There was some miscommunication while she convinced Acuff that she was a singer, not a fiddler, and that a new lyrics would have to be written, but eventually the song became one of Starr's earliest hits. She also had a hit with The Rock and Roll Waltz.
Kay Starr is largely remembered as one of the earliest female country swing artists, but she also appeared on a few episodes of The Great Gildersleeve, and she was a regular Thursday night guest on The Chesterfield Supper Club.