Gentry, Bobbie [Streeter, Roberta Lee]
- Kenneth S. Habib
[Streeter, Roberta Lee]
(b Chickasaw County, MS, July 27, 1944). American country pop-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist. She began performing in local clubs after moving to California at thirteen to live with her mother. She performed in Las Vegas revues before attending UCLA and then the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. Her start recording was a pair of duets with Jody Reynolds in 1963, but the song that launched her career as a recording artist was the 1967 release of the crossover hit “Ode to Billie Joe,” the Southern Gothic B-side of her debut single “Mississippi Delta.” Her signature song, “Billie Joe” earned three Grammy awards and inspired a Hollywood film in 1976. Drawing upon her Mississippi roots, her songs often reflect a distinctive southern style both musically and lyrically, which comes particularly to the fore in her characteristic soulful vocals often marked by a certain natural declamatory delivery. Her widely appealing style ranges from sparse, gutsy arrangements to more lushly orchestrated and harmonically sophisticated productions....