Jeannie C. Riley (born Jeanne Carolyn Stephenson on October 19, 1945) is an American country and gospel music singer.
She was born in Anson, Texas to Oscar and Nora Stephenson.
She is known for her major 1968 hit "Harper Valley PTA" that made her the first ever female singer to have a song go to No. 1 on both the country and pop music charts. Written by Tom T. Hall, the song was released on the Plantation Records label. At the time, the lyrics were seen as risquÃ© with "attitude" and the attractive Riley was marketed as a sex symbol dressed in an evocative tight mini-skirt and leather Go-Go boots.
She became a much talked about overnight sensation, and the song earned her the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and the Country Music Association "Single of the Year" award. The song itself was a phenomenon that led to a 1978 motion picture and the 1981 Harper Valley PTA television show.
During the late 1960's and well into the 1970's, Riley ranked among the most popular female vocalists in the country music industry with five Grammy nominations and four Country Music Association nominations. Her other major country hits include "The Girl Most Likely" (1968), "Country Girl" (1970), "Oh, Singer" (1971), "Good Enough to Be Your Wife" (1971), and "Give Myself a Party" (1972). Her beauty and popularity brought a number of offers from Hollywood and she appeared with Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Bette Davis, Tom Jones, Ed Sullivan, and others on various television programs. Riley recorded for MGM Records from 1972 to 1975 and later for Warner Bros. Records and MCA Records. In the 1970s, she became a born again Christian and began recording gospel music with some frequency. However, her life has been plagued by bouts of severe depression that at one point left her bed-ridden for six years.
Jeannie C. Riley wrote an autobiography, From Harper Valley to the Mountain Top that was published in 1980 and brought her much renewed attention. She contined to tour and record through to the 1990s.