Singer Wilma Lee Cooper

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on July 10, 2005

Could you please tell me what happened to Wilma Lee Cooper, a member of the Grand Ole Opry?
—Shirley N., Alabama

The bluegrass singer and multi-instrumentalist was born Wilma Leigh Leary in Valley Head, W.Va., in 1921. She performed with her family, known as the Leary Family, at bluegrass and folk festivals. After graduating from college, she married Dale "Stoney" Cooper and the husband and wife duo, known as Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, went on to record many country hits, including The Legend of the Dogwood Tree, Walking My Lord Up Calvary's Hill and Heartbreak Street. Stoney died in 1977, but Wilma Lee continued to perform until a stroke sidelined her several years ago. She made an appearance on the Opry earlier this year and has made significant progress since suffering her stroke. Her daughter, Carole Lee, leads the Carole Lee Singers, the background vocalists in the Opry band. Fans can write to Cooper in care of the Grand Ole Opry, 2804 Opryland Drive, Nashville, TN 37214.