The Johnson Sisters (aka. The Barn Warmers, aka. The Musical Cowgirls)

I know little of the late-1930s musical act that went by the name The Johnson Sisters, The Barn Warmers, and The Musical Cowgirls. The trio was made up of Velma (Grandma), Icel (Ma), and Doris (Baby), three women who performed over Kansas City’s KXBY ca. 1937 – 1938. They came to my attention thanks to a contact by one of their family members and so far I’ve managed to dig up very little on the band.

“Hillbilly” bands – as they were frequently called – like this were very common in the Midwest during this era and the vast majority of them are poorly documented, if documented at all. Because KXBY appears to have been an experimental radio station at least partially owned by Arthur B. Church, head of Kansas City’s KMBC, I was hoping to find some historical items on the band in the various Church archives. But no such luck so far.

Here’s some nice background on KXBY – formerly W9XBY – an experimental hi-fidelity station that sought higher quality broadcasting signals in those pre-FM days.

Below are three articles I’ve found about the Barn Warmers so far, all in 1938.





W9XBY was an experimental station located near the upper end of the AM band that was on the air in the mid-1930s. It was connected to Kansas City’s KMBC, which I have researched quite a bit over the years. Though documentation exists about W9XBY, I have not had a chance to review it and write it up. I stumbled on these ads and posted them both as a reminder of this short era of Kansas City broadcasting history and to myself to dig further into the history of this station. There’s much more to the story but here’s another site that will give you some basic information on the station.