Kitty Wells, a pioneer who is credited with shattering the industry barriers for women artists of Country Music, died today at her Nashville home. She was 92.
Hailed as “The Queen of Country Music” and a member of CMA’s Country Music Hall of Fame since 1976, Wells enjoyed a 14-year run of Top 10 hits that helped make it possible for women to achieve success as Country artists.
She wasn’t the first woman to have success in Country. But she reached new heights in 1952 when she became the first woman to grab a solo No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.”
The song was an answer to Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life,” and it was the catalyst for a lifetime of success and fame.
Wells, a Nashville native born Ellen Muriel Deason, married Country star Johnnie Wright in 1937 when she was 18. Wright gave her the nickname "Kitty Wells" after an old folk ballad "Sweet Kitty Wells,” recorded by the Pickard Family. The couple worked together for more than 60 years in the industry. Wright died Sept. 27, 2011.
According to a family press release, Wells passed away peacefully with family by her side at her home Monday morning following complications from a stroke.
Funeral services will be held Friday at 1 PM at the Hendersonville Church of Christ. Burial will follow in Spring Hill Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to Goodpasture Christian School, C/O Kitty Wells/Johnnie Wright Scholarship Fund.