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Kitty Wells - Influential Country Female Artist Kitty Wells

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Kitty Wells - The Queen of Country Music

Kitty Wells - The Queen of Country Music

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Kitty's Early years:

Kitty Wells, (the Queen of Country Music), was born Ellen Muriel Deason, in Nashville, Tennessee on August 30, 1919. She took up guitar when she was only 14 years old, and as a teen, she debuted on Nashville's WSIX radio station. She met and married Johnnie Wright, who would later gain fame as half of the duo, Johnnie and Jack when she was 18 years old.

Kitty performed with Johnnie and his sister Louise, as Johnnie Right and the Harmony Girls. They met Jack Anglin, who married Louise, and became a band, first known as the Tennessee Hillbillies, then the Tennessee Mountain Boys.

"My Sweet Kitty Wells":

In 1942, Anglin was drafted and the band temporarily split up. It was then that Kitty took the stage name "Kitty Wells" after the old folk tune, "My Sweet Kitty Wells." When Anglin returned, Kitty was then a mother of two, and more interested in raising her family, so she rarely performed anymore, so the men became the duo "Johnnie and Jack," and were signed by RCA records.

"It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels":

Johnnie sent a demo tape of Kitty to Paul Cohen of Decca Records, & they liked what they heard, and gave her the song "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels." The song was an answer to the Hank Thompson #1 song, "Wild Side of Life." Wells wasn't crazy about the recording of the song, but Cohen liked it. The song was a huge success shooting straight to #1, & Wells became country music's first woman to have a #1 song. The song stayed at #1 for six weeks.

The song was controversial, and banned from being performed on the Opry in 1952. Even so, Kitty was able to join the Opry anyway, & she became a member that year.

Kitty Wells in the 1950's and 1960's:

Kitty continued to have Top 10 hits in the 1950's and 1960's. She also paired with Red Foley for "One By One," and they were the first of many successful duet acts, like Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and George Jones, and Kenny Rogers and Dottie West.

Although many of her songs were considered controversial, it didn't hurt her, as people saw her as a role model & good mother and wife. She inspired other female artists to record risky material as well, such as Loretta Lynn ("Don't Come Home a-Drinkin' with Lovin' on Your Mind,") and Dolly Parton, ("Just Because I'm a Woman."

First Female Artist to Release Her Own LP:

Kitty Wells success also proved to record execs that women could sell records too, and she was the first female country singer to have an album released, with Kitty Wells' Country Hit Parade. This broke the ground for other female artists to release their own LPs, starting with Patsy Cline's 1957 self-titled debut, Jean Shepherd's 1959 This is Jean Shepherd, and Rose Maddox in 1960, with The One Rose. Soon, every female country singer was releasing her own LPs.

More Accolades and Kitty Today:

Kitty Wells was the first female country singer to have her own syndicated television show, with 1968's The Kitty Wells Show. The show ran for one season only, as it had a hard time competing with shows by male country stars like Bill Anderson and Porter Wagoner.

Today, in her late 80's, Wells continues to make public appearances, and occasionally performs some of her songs.

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