Singer Kitty Wells, known as the queen of country music and the genre's first female superstar, died Monday in Nashville after complications from a stroke. She was 92.
Wells rose to fame with hits like "Making Believe" and "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" at a time when radio wouldn't play two female records back to back, and women couldn't headline concerts.
The entry about Kitty Wells on the Country Music Hall of Fame's website says:
"Wells's great achievement was defying the accepted country music wisdom of her time, which warned that women don't sell records and can't headline shows. Her success led record companies to welcome other female artists and to experiment with new themes and images for women, thereby indelibly changing country music forever."
Despite the many biases standing in her way, Wells had 35 records in the Billboard Top 10, 81 charted singles and was a star on stage, radio and even television with her own syndicated show in the late '60s.
Below, a few of Wells's biggest hits:
"It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels"
This song, released in 1952, was Wells's first number one single on the U.S. country charts. It launched her career and remained her trademark song.
From 1955's Hit Parade, Wells's take on Jimmy Work's country standard was another big hit for the burgeoning superstar.
This single went to the top of the Billboard C&W charts in 1961, and was the last of Wells's number one singles.
CBC News: Female country pioneer Kitty Wells dies in Nashville
Dolly Parton to Bobbie Gentry: Story songs by country music women
on Jul 16, 2012