Kitty Wells, Queen of Country Music, Dead at 92

Kitty Wells, the pioneering country singer who was known as the "Queen of Country Music," has died from a stroke, reports the New York Times. She was 92.   Wells unexpectedly catapulted into stardom at 33 when she recorded her legendary 1952 hit...
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Kitty Wells, the pioneering country singer who was known as the "Queen of Country Music," has died from a stroke, reports the New York Times. She was 92.   Wells unexpectedly catapulted into stardom at 33 when she recorded her legendary 1952 hit...
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Kitty Wells, the pioneering country singer who was known as the "Queen of Country Music," has died from a stroke, reports the New York Times. She was 92. Wells unexpectedly catapulted into stardom at 33 when she recorded her legendary 1952 hit "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels." “I wasn’t expecting it to make a hit,” she told the Nashville Scene newspaper in 1999. “I just thought it was another song.” In fact, Wells recorded "Honky Tonk Angels" just to collect her union wage of $125 and had planned immediately after to forgo her musical ambitions to become a housewife. However, the song's lyrics struck a chord with female listeners everywhere, especially those who were outraged at country crooner Hank Thompson's song "Wild Side of Life," which blamed the sexual prowess of a woman for breaking up a man's marriage. In a postwar era where divorce rates were increasing and women were beginning to experiment with their sexual and social freedoms, Wells' melodic lament proved to be a pro-feminist critique of Thompson's "Wild Side." The refrain of "Honky Tonk Angels" is as follows: It wasn't God who made Honky Tonk angels

As you said in the words of your song

Too many times married men think they're still single

That has caused many a good girl to go wrong Wells may have sang the song convincingly, but according to authors Mary A. Bufwack and Robert K. Oermann, who wrote Finding Her Voice: Women in Country Music, 1800-2000, she was the furthest from a good girl gone wrong. “She was always proper, always dignified,” they stated. “She dressed in prewar gingham instead of pantsuits, flamboyant Western garb or satin costumes.” Wells was a trailblazing inspiration for later country singers like Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and Iris DeMent. The ordained "Queen of Country Music" is survived by a daughter, son, eight grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren.