My Grandma Dixie was a working musician in the Louisville area from the 1930s until the early 1980s, winding up her career with a weekly gig at the Louisville Boat Club, if memory serves. Her ability to play piano by ear led to her popularity and steady employment over those decades. One of the musicians she performed most often with was Clayton "Pappy" McMichen, leader of the Georgia Wildcats (the group, sans Dixie, is pictured above). Here's a recording from March 1941 of Dixie and the group, with her on vocals and doing a piano solo, playing a kind of country swing song called "I'm a Goin.' " After not hearing her voice in a long time -- she passed in 1998 -- it's a kick for me to hear this. And hey! The song isn't bad, either.
I'm a Goin' (March 3, 1941, WAVE radio -- from Berea College Special Collections and Archives)
Even after she stopped playing for money -- and was made a lifetime member of the local Musician's Union -- Dixie could always be coaxed to sit down and play something at our family gatherings. (Especially if a cold Sterling Beer was involved.) I have some video recordings of her family performances from the mid-1990s. I'll post them when I can dig them up.