Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Remembering Kitty Wells August 30, 1919 - July 16, 2012

A year has passed since we lost the "Queen of Country Music," Ellen Muriel Deason( a.k.a.) Kitty Wells Wright.

Kitty ranks sixth on Billboard's Most Successful Female Artists and the eighth woman to receive the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

She came from a talented musical family.  Her father Charles and his brother were musicians and her mother was a gospel singer.  As a teenager, Kitty sang with her sisters known as the "Deason Sisters" on local radio.  At the age of 18, Kitty married country western singer, Johnnie Wright.

Wells and Wright performed as a duo and that is when she changed her name to Kitty Wells.  They toured with Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys and they continued to receive more and more notoriety.

Her 1952 recording "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" made her the first female country music singer to top the US Country Charts.  She recorded other big hits including "Hey Joe" "Paying For That Back Street Affair" "Release Me" "Making Believe"(soundtrack for the film Mississippi Burning) and "Lonely Side of Town."  Along the way, she inspired many female country performers including Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton.

She and her husband had their own syndicated television program "The Kitty Wells/Johnnie Wright Family Show" that featured appearances by her children.

She is ranked #15 on CMT's 40 Greatest Women of Country Music.

Kitty died on July 16, 2012 following complications from a stroke.  She was 92.

She received her last standing ovation during her funeral (funeral program pictured) in the Hendersonville Church of Christ on July 20, 2012.

Among those who honored her were Ricky Skaggs, Eddie Stubbs, and Marty Stuart.  Skaggs said of Wells "It's one thing to make a contribution in life; it's another to make a difference. Kitty did both. "  She rests in the Spring Hill Cemetery at Nashville, Tennessee.

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