Born: Jan. 16, 1942 in Beaumont, Texas
Artistic excellence, lifetime achievement, and contributions to our nation's traditional arts heritage - that's the criteria for being awarded a National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship. Extraordinary guitarist, singer and songwriter Barbara Lynn has earned her place with National Heritage Fellowship honorees and in the rich musical heritage of the Gulf Coast.
Growing up in her hometown of Beaumont, Texas, Barbara Lynn Ozen switched from playing piano to guitar after seeing Elvis Presley on television. She taught herself by playing her left-handed guitar to songs on the radio and formed an all-girl band in school, Barbara Lynn and The Idols. Talent show wins led to invitations for Lynn to play with other bands, club performances, being recorded by producer Huey Meaux and releasing her song "You'll Lose a Good Thing" in May 1962.
That song launched Barbara Lynn to stardom. It was a Number 1 US Billboard R&B hit and rose to the Top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100. "You'll Lose a Good Thing" has been recorded by musicians from Aretha Franklin to Freddy Fender and Lucinda Williams.
She's toured with Chuck Berry, Stevie Wonder, Bo Diddley, Glady Knight, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, James Brown, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Ike and Tina Turner, The Temptations and B.B. King. Future superstars The Jackson 5 opened for Lynn in Chicago. Lynn appeared twice on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, The Rolling Stones called, asked, and received her blessing to record her song, "Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin')." Lynn estimates that she's written nearly 30 songs.
In addition to the National Heritage Fellowship, Lynn received the 1999 Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and a Star of Texas Folklife Award in 2010.