Kitty Wells facts for kids
1974 publicity shot of Kitty Wells
|Birth name||Ellen Muriel Deason|
|Also known as||The Queen of Country Music; The Clock Stopper|
August 30, 1919|
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
|Died||July 16, 2012
|Genres||Country, honky tonk, Nashville sound, gospel|
|Labels||RCA Victor, Decca / MCA, Capricorn, Rubocca, Southern Tracks|
|Associated acts||Red Foley, Webb Pierce, Johnnie Wright, Ruby Wright, Loretta Lynn, Jean Stafford|
Ellen Muriel Deason (August 30, 1919 – July 16, 2012), known professionally as Kitty Wells, was an American pioneering female country music singer. She broke down a female barrier in country music with her 1952 hit recording, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" which also made her the first female country singer to top the U.S. country charts, and turned her into the first female country superstar.
“It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” would also be her first of several pop cross over hits. Wells is the only female artist to be awarded top female vocalist awards for 14 consecutive years. Her chart topping hits continued until the mid-1960s, paving the way for and inspiring a long list of female country singers who came to prominence in the 1960s.
Wells ranks as the sixth-most successful female vocalist in the history of the Billboard country charts. In 1976, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1991, she became the third country music artist, after Roy Acuff and Hank Williams, and the eighth woman to receive the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Her accomplishments earned her the nickname "Queen of Country Music".
Wells was born in Nashville, Tennessee and began singing as a child, learning guitar from her father. Her father, Charles, and his brother were musicians and her mother, Myrtle, was a gospel singer. As a teenager, she sang with her sisters, who performed under the name the Deason Sisters on a local radio station beginning in 1936.
Wells married Johnnie Wright in 1937. Johnnie died in 2011, aged 97. Kitty and Johnnie had three children, Ruby, Bobby, and Carol Sue.
Carol Sue released a single with Wells in the mid-'50s titled "How Far Is Heaven", which peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Country Chart. While two of Wells' children pursued music careers, Carol Sue did not, but she recorded numerous songs with her family, including performing with Ruby as The Wright Sisters.
Wells and her husband were lifelong members of the Church of Christ. The couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in 2007 by visiting the small courthouse at which they were married in Franklin, Kentucky. Kitty and Johnnie were married 74 years before Johnnie’s death in 2011.
Achievements and Honors
- First solo female country artist to have a number 1 record on the charts
- First female country artist to sell one million records
- First woman to headline a major tour
- First woman to headline a syndicated television variety show
- Voted top country female artist for 14 consecutive years
- Holds record for single at number 2 on the charts with "Makin' Believe" for 15 weeks
- Country Music Hall of Fame Inductee (1976)
- NARAS Governor's Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Recording Industry (1981)
- Academy of Country Music's Pioneer Award (1985)
- NARAS Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1991)
- The Music City News Living Legend Award (1993)
- Native American Music Hall of Fame Inductee (2002)
- National Recording Registry at the Library of Congress for "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" (2008)
Images for kids
Kitty Wells Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.