Jewell’s itinerary on a 1952 promotion tour for A Loveless Marriage included a trip to 500,000-watt "border blaster" XERF in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, Mexico, across the Texas border from Del Rio. There, she went on air with station manager Paul Kallinger to hype the MGM record and artist Red Sovine.
Signatures from Hank Williams and Jewell House officially closed the sale of “My Son Calls Another Man Daddy” on March 1, 1949, and opened the curtains on Jewell’s career in Country music.
Hayride star Webb Pierce became one of Jewell’s best friends for the rest of her life. With his girlfriend in tow, he would visit Jewell’s home late at night to escape pressures in Shreveport.
Hayride artist Faron Young found a good friend and knowledgeable ally in Jewell. On his autographed picture to her, he wrote: “To the sweetest lady in the whole wide world – I’ll love you forever. Faron Young To Mrs. House.”
On Dec. 1, 1945, a physically unscathed Charles returned home to a year-old son, David, and Jewell, who was closely following “Hillbilly” music, a popular folk genre that would become known as Country music. Charles enrolled in night courses at a local college at Mr. Still’s urging, thinking he would become a pharmacist. He soon dropped that idea, using his combat engineer experience instead to land jobs first as a firefighter then as a police officer. Jewell worked as a beautician and continued to experiment with songwriting.
In 1946, pregnant with a second son, Ricky, Jewell sold a song, Why Did You Tell Me a Lie, to Nordyke Publishing Company of Hollywood, Calif. The contract was signed by Vice President and General Manager Mortimer Singer on July 25. She, as with many other songwriters, sold some songs to Four-Star Publishing in Los Angeles – an enterprise criticized as exploiting young artists and writers by paying them little.
In 1947, Jewell had to quit her beautician career. She was allergic to many of the chemicals used. But another door was opening as she worked harder on songwriting. Jewell had joined but had not registered her songs with Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), a performing rights organization that collects license fees on behalf of songwriters, music publishers and composers then distributes those as royalties to BMI members whose work has been performed.
In the fall of 1948, Jewell went to the LouisianaHayride, a fledgling show broadcast on Shreveport, Louisiana’s powerful, 50,000-watt KWKH radio station – a giant whose signal could be heard as far away as Europe when atmospheric conditions cooperated.
At the Hayride, Jewell somehow managed to meet with a new member of the cast – Hank Williams. She was a great fan of his and shared some of her songs with Williams. One in particular appealed to him – My Son Calls Another Man Daddy.
Williams recorded the song the following January in Nashville. The contract with Acuff-Rose Publications for My Son Calls Another Man Daddy was signed on March 1, 1949, and bore the signatures of Wesley H. Rose, Hank Williams and Jewell House. She was floored by her initial royalties from the song – more than $2,000.
Jewell became close friends with Williams and his wife, Audrey, as she found acceptance in the Hayride community.
When Williams premiered My Son Calls Another Man Daddy on the Hayride, Jewell was in the wings. House band bass player Don Murphy and Williams’ steel guitar player Felton Pruitt recalled in 2011 that Williams brought Jewell out on the stage to sing the new song with him for a packed house and KWKH listeners.
Legendary Hayride announcer Frank Page told me in August 2011 that he remembered the surprise development in the show. He couldn’t recall in detail the audience reaction, but, he said, the crowd would have been delighted by the duet and the song. Another Hayride artist and Jewell’s close friend, Red Sovine, also would call Jewell onstage to sing their co-written songs together.
Williams launched Jewell’s songwriting career. Through him, Jewell befriended and formed close working relationships with Hayride managers and many Hayride artists who went on to join the United States’ premiere “Hillbilly” music show, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., resulting in the Hayride’s status as the Cradle of the Stars and an Opry farm club of sorts.
The list of Jewell’s Hayride friends reads like an early Hayride Who’s Who: Webb Pierce, Sovine, Johnnie and Jack, Kitty Wells, the Bailes Brothers, the Wilburn Brothers, Van Howard, musician and artist manager Tillman Franks, Hayride founder and producer Horace Logan, Frank Page, artist manager Hubert Long and many more. And there were others who became part of her life and work such as Johnny Horton, Elvis Presley, Faron Young and Jim Reeves.
“Your mother was helpful to all the Hayride artists," Page recalled. "She encouraged them and tried to find out what sings they needed written and would try to write songs for each one of them." They all experienced Jewell’s brand of upbeat support and caring. “You treat one with hit songs just like one who has just recorded” their first song, she told Texarkana freelance writer and author James Presley in a 1970 interview. “They are your friends, and once you’ve made a friend of them, you’ve got a friend for life.”
Jewell worked backstage at the Hayride, meeting with Logan, Franks and artists, showing them her new material and discussing song ideas that were on their minds or types of songs they were looking for. She would take their ideas and craft songs for them.
Such meetings were a part of her home life as well. Artists on the road would go out of their way to stop by the little white frame house at 1619 W. 17th St. in Texarkana to see Jewell, exchange ideas, gossip and jam. Hayride artists, including Hank Williams, would drive from Shreveport for the same reasons. And Jewell made sure they were fed – usually with her fried chicken, homemade biscuits and iced tea.
“Webb Pierce used to bring his girlfriend at odd times (late at night), when he was on the Louisiana Hayride just to get away from the world, from the people bothering him,” Jewell told freelancer James Presley.
Typically, whether working for a publishing house or an artist, she would sell all rights to a song for cash, meaning she also relinquished credit as the author. That was a common practice for songwriters back then. Cash in hand paid bills. Sadly, Jewell isn’t linked to a vast majority of her work. She rarely registered her songs with BMI, but those who bought them did. Consequently, she’s nearly invisible as a songwriter. But not altogether.
There are traces. In May 1952, for example, Texarkana Daily News columnist Annie May Turner interviewed Jewell and wrote: “Jewell’s career is zooming and her latest song, A Loveless Marriage, recorded by Red Sovine, has been selected by eighteen disc jockeys as the nation’s number one hillbilly hit.
“That’s why the beautiful, vivacious young woman has been invited to make personal appearance on radio disc jockey shows in Arkansas, Mexico, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana, including Ernest Tubb’s ‘Midnight Record Show,’ and WSM, Nashville.
“Since her entry into the profession, Jewell has written lyrics, or both music and lyrics, to two hundred songs. Many were tailored to suit the talents of top stars of the folk song, or hillbilly field, including headliners of Grand Ole Opry. Her current contracts are with Acuff-Rose Publications and Arkansas-Louisiana-Texas Publishing Co.”
Louisiana Hayride stars such as the Wilburn Brothers became close friends with Jewell and her family, visiting their home often.
Jewell and Red Sovine shared a close friendship, as well as songwriting collaboration.
Jewell and Hayride star Red Sovine co-wrote the 1952 hit, A Loveless Marriage.