GALLATIN, TX (CelebrityAccess) — American country music singer, songwriter, and member of the Grand Ole Opry, Jan Howard, died on Saturday in Texas at the age of 91, according to a statement from the Opry.
Howard, who was the oldest member of the Opry at the time of her death, was a part of the music collective for 49 years.
Over the course of a long career, Howard released 30 singles that landed on the Billboard Hot Country chart, including “The One You Slip Away With” which peaked at #13 in 1959 and “Evil on Your Mind” which hit #5 in 1966.
Born in Depression-era Missouri, Howard was married at fifteen and worked at a variety of jobs until a chance meeting with songwriter Harlan Howard, who she later married, and who coaxed her into a career in music.
Howard began singing on demos for Harlan, including the original music that would become hits by artists such as Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells, and Charlie Walker.
In 1959, she began recording in her own right, scoring an early hit with “Yankee Go Home” and “Wrong Company.” She also began performing live, including the regional televised music program “Town Hall Party.
“The band started ‘Pick Me Up on Your Way Down’ and someone pushed me onstage. After that, everything was a total blank…If I’d been given warning, I’d have been long gone,” she later wrote in her autobiography.
In the mid-1960s, she signed with noted booking agent Hubert Long and began touring on her own and with other artists, including Bill Anderson.
In 1971, Howard joined the Grand Ole Opry and has performed there regularly since.
In addition to her career as an artist, Howard also wrote multiple hits, including co-writing “I Never Once Stopped Loving You” which proved to be a hit for Connie Smith, and “It’s All Over But the Crying” which Kitty Wells brought to the charts.
In 1987, Howard took a hiatus from touring to write “Sunshine and Shadow: My Story” an autobiography and began experimenting with writing fiction as well.
Over the course of her professional career, Howard was nominated for two Grammys; first in 1967 when she was nominated for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for “Evil on Your Mind” and then in 1969 when she was nominated for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for “My Son”.
“We were all so lucky so many nights to hear her voice on stage and to catch up with her backstage. We’re all better for having had her in our lives,” said Dan Rogers, Vice President of the Grand Ole Opry announcing her passing.