ESTHER CASTEEL - Song Writer, Composer and Label Creator and Owner:
Esther ‘Kitty’ Casteel was sole writer and composer of the 1967 Gold Label musical version of Rose of Cherokee, performed by Cecil Ziebart. Also called Rose of Cherokee 'gold' to separate it from the 1995 vocal version.
In an article from 'Lifestyle' in The Manteca News on May 28, 1983, Esther Casteel says, that 'Rose of Cherokee' stayed a number one hit for sixteen weeks. She was speaking about the musical version recorded under her label in 1967, performed by Artist, Cecil Ziebart. She said it earned her a "Best Western Country Writer" award and her name is listed in "Who's Who in Country Music". In an article from "Kern River Scene" dated Friday July 16 2004, Esther said that "Rose of Cherokee" was the first song she ever wrote.
Not long after the 1967 “Rose of Cherokee” Musical Hit “Hey Pretty Mama” climbed the charts circa 1968-69 to earn a Red Hot Hit for Writer Esther Casteel, and Composer Ked Killen.
Esther Casteel was writer and composer of the 1995 vocal version of "Rose of Cherokee" performed by Virge Brown. She was also writer with shared composer Roth, of “Little Falling Star” performed by Virge Brown in 1995.
Virge Brown recorded a number of Tommy Barri songs as well, around 1981, including:
Song For Reunited Lovers; She (Is The One); Intruder; The Maid Called Lorelei; I Forgive You But I Can’t Forget You; You Are The One; One Wish To Make and I Search The Years.
A Veteran Country Music Artist, Virge Brown had his own radio program “One Wish To Make” and TV show “The Virge Brown Show” (the original SADDLE-MATES group) who will long be remembered for their songs of the “Old West”. Virge is also well known for his songwriting, and as a top Disc Jockey.
The May 27, 1967 issue of Billboard, International News, Toronto, Canada, states "The Western Ranch Label in the U.S. has released it's second single by Cecil Ziebart and The Polka Pals old time and Western music group from Medicine Hat, Alta. Their "Rose of Cherokee" backed with "Be Sure Dear" is making charts in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, and negotiations are under way for Canadian distribution."
Cecil Ziebart recorded eight musicals under the Western Ranch Music Record Label from the late 1950's to the late 1960's. Four musicals were recorded in 1956 and two in 1957 and two in 1967.
Ked Killen was born on May 10, 1911 in Jenkins, Kentucky and raised there. From the time he was a teenager Ked sang and played the guitar locally with other musicians at neighborhood get-togethers and in Virginia.
Ked married a childhood sweetheart by the name of June, and they raised a family together.
Ked Killen had compiled a group of musicians in the late 1960's, which he named ~Western All Stars~. He had seen an add and write-up on Western Ranch Music record label. It was in early 1966 when he contacted Western Ranch Music Records with an audition tape. The company liked his down-to-earth country sounds and signed him to a recording contract on August 1, 1966. Ked had recorded at least 21 masters for Western Ranch Music Records by 1969.
After many hours of re-mastering and restoring the old masters the tracks sound almost as clean and crisp as back then.
Ked's records had some very good ratings in various areas. Mostly The USA, Europe and Canada. Not too much has ever been known about his personal life. Through the studio where Ked recorded in Virginia we could find out that he was working on another tape circa late 1970's - early 1980's, when illness and death struck his wife June, leaving him very distraught and depressed, until he became quite ill himself and passed away in 1986. He is buried in Clintwood, Virginia.
Ked was one of the many fantastic Country singers. His voice was suitable for the early 50's and of his many tracks most have that 1950's country, blues, cowboy and rockabilly sound and style.
Original Western Ranch Music tracks of Artist Ked Killen have been used in Country and Western and Rockabilly album releases produced in the European Union, Canada, and The USA, for the fans and collectors of C&W Retro, Blues, Cowboy and Rockabilly music. Here are a few labels that include songs by Artist Ked Killen: White Label, Netherlands 1988; Binge, West Germany 1989; Sun Label, England 1990;and Rich ~ R ~ Tone.
Esther Casteel started writing songs and composing music circa 1930. She designed her Western Ranch Music Record Label, around 1950, while living in New Mexico and then moved to California where she obtained her recording license in 1952.
Some Bands and Artists under her label and/or who performed her songs from the 1950’s to 1995, were Cecil Ziebart and The Polka Pals, Ked Killen and The Western All Stars,Lee Felts and The Feltons, John York, Virge Brown and The Saddle Mates, Gordon Harris and Western Four and Cowboy Dallas Turner. The Pell Brothers performed "Big Earl" which was also recorded under the Western Ranch Music Record Label. The Elliot Brothers Ork, recorded under the label at the same time as The Pell Brothers. Tex Ritter, performed Esther's "Hey Pretty Mama" song.
In a Billboard Article dated June 12, 1954 "Esther Casteel's Western Ranch Music bowed with the new label and a flock of C&W artists .... 'Grand Ole Opry' troup headlining Ernest Tubb, Ray Price, Marty Robins, Rusty Gabbard, Danny Dill, and The Drifting Cowboys and The Texas Troubadors and Bill Myrick of KECK, Odessa, TX., slated for the 'Permian Basin Jamboree' in Odessa." On September 18, 1954 "The firms prexy was recording such artists as Baby Darlene, Cowboy Dallas Turner, Cherokee Rocky Rose and His Trail Dusters, Jim Hall and his Texas Ramblers, and Bob Wesley".
Some of Esther's first releases listed in Billboards Sept 12, 1953 issue are "Deep In The Rockies, WRM-3-A; In My Garden of Dreams, WRM-3-B; Don't be Jealous Honey, WRM-8-A; My Heart's The Symbol of Loves Sorrow WRM-8-B; Lest You Forget, WRM-10-A; and Blue Sunshine, WRM-10-B". On December 5, 1953, Esther Casteel is listed as personal manager of Auto-harp and guitar player, Harvey Fink. And on January 30, 1954 Esther releases two more recordings "There’s a Tear on The Roses Tonight, WRM-12-A and Cowtown Ball, WRM-12-B".
Around 1952 and into the late 1950’s, Esther managed three additional recording bands; The Westernairs, Old Westerners and Rhythumaires. Esther recorded previously under White Label in New Mexico and Colorado, circa 1940-51. (Not to be mistaken for the European White Label). The Sun Valley Boys were one of her earlier recording bands when she lived in New Mexico. In the early 50’s she had her own band called Cimmeron Sun Valley Boys. At one point in time, there were thirteen bands and seven singers contracted to Esther Casteel, including Canadian groups.
By 2006 Esther Casteel was a 47-year member of The National Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1973 Esther Casteel, was voted to become one of 21 Grammy Governors to serve from 1973-1974 out of the San Francisco, Ca., Chapter. The only woman at that time. Something to be proud of in that day and time. She was a voting member of NARAS, Los Angeles, Ca., Chapter for 38 years. She also became an ASCAP NY member shortly after she obtained her Western Ranch Music Record Label License in 1952.
Releases of vinyl records and reissues of vinyl 45's, Collector Mono LP's and Cassettes were produced with Esther's works as late as 1995. Esther Casteel, was an Author/Composer and Recording Pioneer of circa 1940’s-50's Country, Western, Blues, Cowboy and Polka music; keeping that unique clean crisp sound which carried over into her 1960’s-70's Country and Western Blues, Folk, Americana & Rockabilly Retro.
These unique works continue to be available under her original label and more are returning to the market due to demand from Oldie and Country/Folk/Rockabilly/Americana radio listeners and music collectors and fans of Oldies and music history.
Esther wrote and recorded over 200 songs starting circa 1926 and by the year 1995. Most were recorded on vinyl records. After that, songs were available on Cassette and now on CD, MP3, Music Movie/Videos, and digitally remastered for Oldies and Country Radio Listeners. Ringtones and Wallpapers are available at
and a novelty store page offering Western Ranch Music merchandise can be accessed on the facebook band profile page at
Some of Esther's best songs are now available on popular music download sites and radio sites worldwide, like Amazon, Reverbnation, itunes, emusic, Last.fm, Pandora, Jango, Spotify, AirPlay Direct, etc..
The Killen Collector Compilation "physical CD" is currently available for sale on Amazon:
Listen and request WRM Songs by Artist and/or song name, on most Oldies, Country, Folk, Americana, Western, Cowboy, Blues, Rockabilly and other radio channels/sites worldwide.
Information and historical events were gathered from physical news and articles collected over the many years by WRM and/or information is WRM history; and/or information was shared by and/or published previously for/with/by permission of WRM Record Label.
"Radio Creds" are votes awarded to artists by radio programmers who have
downloaded their music and have been impressed with the artist's
professionalism and the audience's response to the new music. Creds help
artists advance through the AirPlay Direct community.
Only radio accounts may add a Radio Cred. One week after the track has been downloaded the radio account member will receive an email requesting a Cred for each artist they've downloaded.