Lee Emerson left rural poverty in Virginia for a new life out west. In Cody, Wyoming in 1953 he recorded his first single for Wagon Wheel Records. Friends told him he should go to Nashville, so he did. Right after arriving, he landed a contract with Columbia and caught the attention of the label's biggest star, Marty Robbins. They taped two duet sessions together – the very few Robbins ever did! Emerson's Columbia issues also included his original version of what is now a bluegrass classic, I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name. Emerson shuttled between hillbilly, rockabilly, and rock 'n' roll. Two unissued Columbia masters are included. In 1961, Emerson recorded an R&B single as Heywood Jenkins for Mercury, but didn't record again until 1976.
In between, he wrote one of Marty Robbins' biggest hits, Ruby Ann.