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A legendary songwriter in her own time, Hazel Houser was born in Tulsa, OK and moved to central California at the age of 8. Houser wrote her first song at 12 years of age. Her father, a traveling Country Baptist Preacher, always encouraged singing Gospel music in their home, and Hazel grew up in a strong religious, musical home. Hazel Houser has published 17 songs and she sang these songs in and around the community of Modesto, California and as far South to Bakersfield. She sang with Chester Smith. They traveled the area singing in local community centers such as, Riverbank Club House, California Ball Room, etc. She sang in the same venues as Rose Maddox, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Mitchell Brothers and many others.
In 1952, Hazel’s Uncle Grady asked her to tape some of her songs. Jerry Wisenger, a D. J. then at KTRB, was so impressed with the songs that he contacted the young Capital recording artist, Chester Smith, who also worked at KTRB. Chester contacted Hazel for more songs and took the works to Ken Nelson of Capital Records in Los Angeles.
What happened then is one of the really inspiring things that can happen in the recording industry. Ken Nelson was so impressed with the words alone, not even having heard the melodies, that he signed Hazel to an exclusive songwriters’ contract!
Chester returned to Modesto and while taping the songs, he asked Hazel to help out with the harmony. She did so and when Ken Nelson heard the tape, he wanted a combination of the two voices on the finished recording.
“Wait a Little Longer, Please Jesus”, “Men Are So Busy”, “He Will Calm The Troubled Waters”, “Bend Down” and “I’m Going to Serve Him”, were all recorded by Chester and Hazel.
“Wait a Little Longer, Please Jesus” went on to become one of the truly standard Country Gospel songs. It was recorded by such artists as; George Jones, Melba Montgomery, Merle Haggard & Bonnie Owens, Kitty Wells, Bill Monroe, Porter Wagoner, Pat Boone, Rose Maddox and the Louven Brothers. This song was not only a smash hit in the United States, but also in Austria, Holland, England, Japan, Denmark, France, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Spain, Portugal and Australia.
In 1956, Hazel Houser was nominated the Country Music Gospel / Sacred Singer. Her song, “Wait a Little Longer, Please Jesus”, was chosen by “The Country Music Hall of Fame” in Nashville, TN to represent the Gospel / Sacred music.
Hazel’s Uncle Grady became an inspiration for a song, “My Baby’s Gone”, which she wrote after he had passed away. The inspiration came from her feeling that the world kept going right on after Grady was gone, and she loved him so much that she couldn’t imagine how things could go on without him around. This song went on to become a smash hit throughout the world. In 1959, “My Baby’s Gone” became the B.M.I. National Award Winner for “Best Song” and of all things, Hazel was canning peaches when she wrote it. The artists who have recorded it are the Who’s Who of the Country & Gospel Greats: Roy Clark, Glen Campbell, Ray Price, The Johnny Mann Singers, Jim Ed Brown & The Browns, Wanda Jackson, Melba Montgomery & Charlie Louvin, Dotty West, Jody Miller, Jeanne Black and many others. The Louvin Brothers titled their hit L.P. album “My Baby’s Gone” and, in fact, the entire album was Hazel’s songs. In 1971, Glen Campbell recorded a L.P. titled “By the Time I Get To Phoenix”, and “My Baby’s Gone” was pulled from the album and released as a single with “Hey, Little One” on the flip side! It was a million seller!!
Today many Bluegrass and Rock-a-Billy performers are playing her music around the country!!
Her legacy will always be in our hearts and her music royalties will be passed down to many generations to come.
Thanks For The Music Hazel!
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