Kitty Wells, the “Queen of Country Music”, was born Ellen Muriel Deason, in Nashville, Tennessee on August 30, 1919. She created the role for all other female country singers. “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” recorded in 1952, was her first number one song nand she was the first female to sell a million records and reach number one in the country field. For 14 consecutive years she was voted the nation’s number one “Country Female Artist” by all of the trade publications such as: Billboard, Cashbox , Record World and Downbeat Magazine. No other Country female artist has ever topped her achievements.
Kitty was given the name Kitty Wells, by her husband Johnny Wright in 1943. Johnny got the name from the old folk ballad recorded by the Pickard Family, entitled “Sweet Kitty Wells”. Johnny and Kitty made appearances in the early years on radio stations in Raleigh, North Carolina (WPTF), Knoxville, Tennessee (KNOX), Bluefield, West Virginia (WCHS, Decatur, Georgia (WEAS) and at the Louisana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana (KWKH). Kitty’s first recording session was for RCA Records in 1947 when she recorded some gospel songs, such as “Gathering Flowers for the Master’s Bouquet” and “How Far Is Heaven”. Kitty re-recorded “How Far Is Heaven” two more times on Decca Records, once with daughter then age 9, Carol Sue.
Kitty was about to quit show biz and stay at home with her three children, but God had another plan. Paul Cohen, then A&R for Decca Records, was looking for a female singer to record the answer to Hank Thompson’s number one hit, “The Wild Side Of Live”. He asked Johnny if Kitty would be interesed in recording, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”, Kitty said she would do it so she could make the money off of the recording session. Even though the Grand Ole Opry banned the song and she was not allowed to perform it on the air at the time, the song became a million seller. The rest is history, thus beginning the sensational career of Miss Kitty Wells. Her duet with Red Foley,”One By One” remained on the charts for almost a year. Kitty signed an unheard of “lifetime” contract with Decca Records in 1959. She remained on Decca until 1975 when she released one album on Capricorn Records. On this session, Kitty was backed by some members of the infamous “Allman Brothers Band”. In 1979, Johnny and Kitty formed their own label, Ruboca Records, (named after there three children, Ruby, Bobby and Carol Sue) and managed by son-in-law, John Sturdivant. Kitty had her last solo Top Ten Single on Ruboca at age 60 with, “Thank You For The Roses”.
Here is Kitty Wells singing her big 1952 #1 hit ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels’ at the Grand Ole Opry.
Other talented ladies who paved the way to make country music what it is today 👇