by Matt Marble
Radie Britain: The Cosmic Cowgirl of the Hollywood Hills
Hailing from a small Texas ranch, Radie Britain (1899-1994) settled in the Hollywood Hills where a cosmic calling helped her become one of the most successful female composers of her generation.
Rejected early on by her childhood church for dancing in public, Radie found lasting inspiration in nature and in the teachings of Hollywood metaphysician Ernest Holmes.
"I'm very spiritual when it comes to composing," she wrote in her autobiography, "I tune in to something greater than I am." And by this spiritual attunement her music's scope transcended the nostalgic Westerns she'd become known for.
Anticipating the Deep Listening work of fellow Texas native Pauline Oliveros, Radie lectured about the role of meditation in the composer's creative process. And, like Sun Ra, she sought to portray the cosmos in symphonic form. Among the many accolades of her successful career, Radie's incantatory "Prison" (1936) was one of the first original compositions by a female composer ever performed at the White House. But with no commercial recordings, no living relatives, and few championing her work today, she has been largely forgotten in the 21st century.
Among the many accolades of her successful career, Radie's incantatory "Prison" (1936) was one of the first original compositions by a female composer ever performed at the White House. But with no commercial recordings, no living relatives, and few championing her work today, she has been largely forgotten in the 21st century.
Via the American Museum of Paramusicology, producer and host Matt Marble shines a light on the inspiring life of this neglected California cosmonaut. And in collaboration with the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, this program offers previously unreleased audio of Radie introducing and performing her own works at the piano, as well as previously unheard chamber and orchestral works. Thanks to the Briscoe Center, the California Festival, the Los Angeles Philharmonic for supporting this work and celebrating the life and music of Radie Britain.
Archival audio courtesy of:
The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin: Radie Britain Papers (camh-dob-019753, camh-dob-019746, camh-dob-019749)
About The Author
Matt Marble is an artist, author, and media producer in Greensboro, North Carolina. His book, Buddhist Bubblegum (Coolgrove Press, 2021), was hailed as "groundbreaking work" by the New York Times. As the director of the American Museum of Paramusicology (AMP), he manages a unique multimedia archive and publishing platform exploring the role of spiritual imagination and esoteric tradition in American music history. Matt currently offers a monthly multimedia subscription exploring the AMP through essays, interviews, art, and archival media. To explore Matt's work and the AMP further, please visit: mattmarble.net/amp.