Last October The Law Sisters were honored and inducted into the New York State Country Music Hall of Fame in Cortland, NY. The following is a walk down memory lane as presented by Kimberly Hoffman, the daughter of Carol Jane and the niece of Aldena Marie.
The Law Sisters – Their Life in Music by Kimberly Hoffman
The Law Sisters were raised on a dairy farm in Smyrna, New York. They were the daughters of Glenn and Retha Law. Carol Jane was the fourth child born and Aldena was the fifth of thirteen children born to Glenn and Retha. Life on the farm was very busy, but the family always made time for singing and playing their music. Their love for gospels, bluegrass, and country and western were deep rooted in the entire Law family and sounds of guitars strumming, banjo picking, and singing could be heard from their front porch.
The Law Sisters were heavily influenced by their father Glenn, who oftentimes could be seen playing the harmonica, juice harp, and singing gospels with other family members. With the influence of her father, Carol Jane was inspired to buy her first guitar (Kay Guitar) in 1952. The Law Sisters' mother, Retha, began making, by hand, matching outfits for them to wear at their performances.
The Law Sisters began singing professionally at the ages of 13 (Aldena) and 15 (Carol) after being recognized at a barn dance in Oxford, NY by Barefoot Bob Kinney, a local DJ. They became well known in Norwich, Cortland, and the surrounding areas. In 1953, the Law Sisters appeared as guests with the Trail Blazers at the Norwich Grange Hall and began singing weekly at the Loomis' Hay Loft with the Green Valley Boys in South Otselic, NY.
In 1954 and 1955, the Law Sisters appeared with the stage band at the Rainbow Park in Binghamton, NY with musical artists, such as Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, the Osborne Brothers, and Little Jimmy Dickens (to name a few). In 1954, as the Law Sisters' singing career began to progress to a new level, Carol Jane bought her second guitar (a Martin). In 1955, the Law Sisters appeared with the “Barefoot Bob Show,” featuring Dick Boise, Lois Tracey, Charlie Hughes, Speedy West, Smokey Brownell and the Band. In that same year, the Law Sisters also sang on the radio station WCHN in Norwich, NY, with the “Barefoot Bob Show” and on the radio station WKRT in Cortland, NY with the “Tex Robard Band.” Other appearances included the Chenango County Fair and the Otsego County Fair, both located in New York.
In 1955, Hard Rock Gunner put on a show at the Colonial Theater in Norwich, NY. The Law Sisters got an opportunity to sing for him after the show and, because of their natural talent, were invited to sing on his show in Wheeling, West Virginia. Getting caught up in the excitement and due to their young age, they didn't obtain his contact information. The Law Sisters simply took a chance and travelled to West Virginia one weekend. However, Hard Rock Gunner wasn't performing that weekend and they missed their chance to perform with him. During a relatively short time from 1954-1958, the Law Sisters had managed to make several guest performances and began making a name for themselves.
The music came to an abrupt end when, in 1958, Aldena Marie was fatally injured in an automobile accident at the age of 19. Carol Jane didn't sing and perform too much for nearly 20 years. She occasionally sang with local bands as a guest, which included the Tom Meade Band and the Cortland County Music Hall Band.
In 1980, Carol Jane created her own record company called, “Fly By Night Records,” and went to Nashville, Tennessee to record her first single album. The two songs featured included “Cookie Jar” and “You Can't Feel the Way I Do.” Charlie McCoy, the Lee Jane Singers, and his road band backed her up with music and back-up vocals. In 1981, Carol Jane recorded her second album that included two original songs written by Ben Tameo from Sidney, NY. The two songs featured were, “Where Does She End and Where Do I Begin” and “Dial 607-563-2338.”
In 1980, Carol Jane Carol Jane also performed at the Elks Club with Jerry Madore in Norwich, NY. Also, in 1980, Carol Jane won “Single of the Year” honored by the New York State Country Music Association at the Courtroom in Utica, NY. In 2000, Carol Jane was asked to be an opening act for the Loretta Layne Show at the Cortland Country Music Hall of Fame.
The music continues to go on in Carol Jane's life. She has spent the last 10 years in Florida during the winter months with her husband, Joseph Hoffman, and occasionally makes appearances in a large retirement community known as “The Village” in Lady Lake, Florida, as well as other local entertainment locations. Carol Jane also sings for her six grandchildren (soon to be seven) in hopes the music will continue to the next generations to come.