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Kitty Wells, Country Music's First Female Superstar, Dies at 92

Mon, July 16, 2012 8:02pm EDT by Billy Nilles 36 Comments
Kitty Wells Dead

Kitty passed away peacefully, after complications from a stroke. Read on for details.

Kitty Wells, the first female superstar of country music, died Monday, July 16. Her family said she passed away peacefully at home in Madison, Tenn. after complications from a stroke.

Kitty’s solo career began in 1952 and lasted until the late 1970s. In 1976, she was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame and 10 years later received the Pioneer Award from the Academy of Country Music. In 1991 she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences — the group that presents the Grammy Awards.

In 2008, the Library of Congress announced that Kitty’s record, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” had been added to its National Recording Registry of works of unusual historic merit. That same year, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum hosted an exhibit about her career.

Kitty married Johnny Wright, half of a duo called Johnny and Jack, in 1938 and soon began touring with the duo. She took her stage name from an old folk song, “Sweet Kitty Wells.” Johnny died Sept. 27, 2011.

Our thoughts are with Kitty’s family in this time of loss.

— Billy Nilles