When Ellen was 18, she married another aspiring musician by the name of Johnnie Wright. Wright was a cabinet maker and played music on the side in a duo known as Johnnie & Jack.
Newly married, Ellen, Johnnie and Ellen's sister Louise began touring under the name of Johnnie Right and the Harmony Girls until Louise met and married Jack Anglin that joined the group and became known as "The Tennessee Hillbillies and then the "Tennessee Mountain Boys."
Ellen changed her identity to Kitty Wells soon after she and her husband began performing as a duo. The name Kitty Wells was actually chosen by her husband from a folk song called "Sweet Kitty Wells."
|Kitty and Johnnie|
, Kitty agreed to record the song. The lyrics were controversial at that time and was banned by several radio stations and the Grand Ole Opry. However, audiences loved the song and it's recording sold more than 800,000 copies in its initial release. It became the first song to reach #1 on the record charts by a female singer. The success for the song also caused Wells to receive membership in the Grand Ole Opry. Another successful hit by Kitty Wells followed with the release of "Paying For That Back Street Affair." She would have two more hit songs with "Hey Joe" and "Cheatin A Sin" On top of that, she recorded a duet with country star, Red Foley called "One By One" that peaked at #1 on the Billboard Country Music Chart. Wells career peaked when she recorded "Making Believe" that is regarded as one of the greatest songs in country music history. It was included on the soundtrack for the film "Mississippi Burning." Several other successful songs followed.
|Kitty Wells funeral folder|
Kitty Wells died on July 16, 2012 from complications of a stroke at the age of 92.
She was remembered as a "woman of deep faith" "always exhibited poise, professionalism, dignity and class, and was a top notch cook." She considered her voice a "gift from God."
She and her husband, Johnnie of nearly 74 years, now rest in the Spring Hill Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee.