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Kitty Wells Dies at 92, Country Music Mourns Her Passing

July 17, 2012, 2:25 am GMT

Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell and Lee Ann Womack are among the country music singers who pay respect to the 'Honky Tonk Angels' hitmaker.



Country music world has just lost one of its greats, Kitty Wells. The singer, who was dubbed The Queen of Country Music, passed away peacefully on Monday, July 16 at her home in Nashville due to complications from a stroke. She was 92.

Loretta Lynn, who collaborated with her in "Honky Tonk Angels" singles, sent condolence upon hearing the sad news. "She was my hero. If I had never heard of Kitty Wells, I don't think I would have been a singer myself," the 80-year-old singer gushed.

"Kitty Wells will always be the greatest female country singer of all times," Lynn went on. "I wanted to sound just like her, but as far as I am concerned, no one will ever be as great as Kitty Wells. She truly is the Queen of Country Music."

Another fellow country crooner, Barbara Mandrell, called the late singer "every female country music performer's heroine." She explained, "She led the way for all of us and I feel very grateful and honored to have known her. She was always the most gracious, kind and lovely person to be around."

Lee Ann Womack couldn't agree more as saying, "Country music lost an icon that we as females in country music hold up." She added, "She paved the way for generations after her and really made a mark for women in country. It's a tough business for women. She proved that she could sell records and tickets and have hits in a time when that hadn't been proven yet by female acts."

Kitty Wells learned to play guitar at the age of 14 and started pursuing a singing career by performing on local radio in Nashville before entering recording booth. She became the first solo female artist who scored a country chart-topping single with "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels".

During her career that spanned more than 50 years, she has recorded around 50 albums and scored 25 Top 10 country hit singles. She received Pioneer Award from ACM and Lifetime Achievement Award from Grammys in 1991. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1976.

"Without her there wouldn't be a lot of us," said Country Music Hall of Fame member Jean Shepard. She added, "I just hope that country music itself realizes what a wonderful lady she was and how much she's going to be missed."

Wells got married to Johnnie Wright, the half of Johnnie & Jack, when she was 18. He died in 2011. She is survived by son Bobby and daughter Sue; eight grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and five great-great-grandchildren.

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