Kitty Wells, who reigned for decades as the Queen of Country Music, is being remembered by many women in country music who were empowered by her pioneering career. Wells died Monday (July 16) at her home in Madison, Tenn. She was 92.
"She was my hero," Loretta Lynn said in a written statement. "If I had never heard of Kitty Wells, I don't think I would have been a singer myself. I wanted to sound just like her, but as far as I am concerned, no one will ever be as great as Kitty Wells."
Barbara Mandrell noted, "Kitty Wells was every female country music performer's heroine. 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. I so appreciated her being a part of my life and a mentor to me."
"Kitty Wells was the first and only Queen of Country Music, no matter what they call the rest of us," said Dolly Parton. "She was a great inspiration to me as well as every other female singer in the country music business. In addition to being a wonderful asset to country music, she was a wonderful woman. We will always remember her fondly."
Like Lynn, Mandrell and Parton, Wells is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. She is perhaps best known for the 1952 country classic, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels." The feisty song became the first single by a woman to reach No. 1 at country radio.
Lee Ann Womack told The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville, "Country music lost an icon that we as females in country music hold up. 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."