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How the "World's Only Buckarette" is keeping the Bakersfield Sound alive

"It’s completely a dream, I think for everybody,” said McAbee
Kim McAbee-Carter
Posted at 6:16 AM, Mar 14, 2024

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Kim McAbee-Carter looks at the Hall of Fame inductees and spots her name written in Buck Owen's Biography. “It sure is and I didn’t even know that!” said McAbee.

  • This Women's History Month, we are diving into the iconic history of the Bakersfield Sound- and highlighting the woman keeping it alive today.
  • Now McAbee runs the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame with pride, her favorite spot in the building being the hall of inductees. But none of it would have been made without her- fortunately her name is on there too, written in Buck’s biography.

“This is Miss Kim, and she’s gonna do it for you- right now!” said Buck Owens.

“I loved music my whole life…We didn’t have the money for me to do any type of music training or play an instrument in school,” said Kim McAbee-Carter, Founder of the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame.

Back before she was Kim McAbee-Carter, singer in the Buckaroos and founder of the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame, she was Kim Willis- a young girl from the valley who loved country music.

Neighborhood News Reporter Ava Kershner interviewing Kim McAbee-Carter, singer in the Buckaroos and founder of the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame
Neighborhood News Reporter Ava Kershner interviewing Kim McAbee-Carter, singer in the Buckaroos and founder of the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame

“They actually had a class for beginning singers and I thought I’m gonna take one of those. I’m gonna see if I can sing. On the second day of class he called roll call and he said, 'Star?' And of course nobody answered… and he said, 'Star?' and still nobody answered and then he said 'Kim Willis?' …So I must’ve sounded OK,” said McAbee.

And so the stars were the limit, as McAbee started building her career.

Singing any chance she got at local spots, like the Silver Bullet Lounge.

“Early early in the morning, late late at night- it was till you had no more energy to be on stage anymore. Thank goodness it’s something you love to do,” said McAbee.

Then came the question of a lifetime for a girl who grew up loving the Bakersfield Sound- from the Bakersfield Sound himself.

“The Buckaroos started getting private events to do and they asked me if I would join them for that and that was the start of what was going to become my stay there at the Crystal Palace with Buck Owens and the Buckaroos,” said McAbee.

“One can only dream to perform with the folks they listened to as a kid,” I said. 

“That’s exactly what it is. It’s completely a dream, I think for everybody,” said McAbee.

Proclaimed the world's only Buckarette from Buck Owens himself, McAbee has stuck with the Buckaroos since the early 90s.

But out of all those memories at the Crystal Palace and singing next to Buck, one stands out.

“And I had watched so many people get this guitar and I even handed it! I remember giving Trace Adkins the guitar because Buck was ill that night and I went upstairs and practiced his speech. I knew how important it was to get that guitar and when I got it, I just broke down and cried because I didn’t think I was ever gonna get one. I didn’t think that was gonna be part of what he would ever do, and he goes, ‘If I would have known you were going to do that I would’ve given it to you along time ago,” said McAbee. 

Now McAbee runs the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame with pride, her favorite spot in the building being the hall of inductees.

But none of it would have been made without her- fortunately her name is on there too, written in Buck’s biography.

“It sure is and I didn’t even know that!” said McAbee. 


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