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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Mae Boren Axton
(2012.201.B0048.0193, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).

AXTON, MAE BOREN (1914–1997).

Born in Bardwell, Texas, September 14, 1914, songwriter Mae Boren was the only daughter of M. L. and Nannie Boren. Among her eight brothers was Oklahoma Congressman Lyle H. Boren. The Borens moved to Oklahoma when she was two years old. Mae Boren attended college at East Central State College (now East Central University) and the University of Oklahoma, receiving a bachelor's degree in journalism. After she obtained a public teaching certificate, she married John T. Axton. The union produced songwriter Hoyt Axton and attorney John Axton.

Axton's nephew, former Oklahoma governor and U.S. Sen. David Boren, called her "the pied piper of young people." Known for helping aspiring musicians, Axton co-wrote Elvis Presley's first hit, "Heartbreak Hotel." Mae Axton also helped bring Willie Nelson and his songwriting talents into the mainstream of the country music industry.

She was elected to the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame in 1985 after devoting much of her life to teaching journalism and English in public schools in Broken Bow, Moore, Walters, Frederick, and Ada. When Axton died at her home in Hendersonville, Tennessee, on April 9, 1997, a telegram from the Country Music Association called her "one of country music's finest jewels."

Bob Burke


"Axton Services to be Saturday in Tennessee," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 11 April 1997.

Bob Burke and Von Russell Creel, Lyle Boren: Rebel Congressman (Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1991).

Ellie Posey, "Mae Boren Axton No Stranger in Music World," Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 18 May 1984.


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Bob Burke, “Axton, Mae Boren,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=AX002.

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