Kitty Wells (born Muriel Deason on August 30, 1919) is an American country musician from Nashville, Tennessee, known from about 1955 as the Queen of Country Music.
Wells debuted on WSIX, a Nashville-area radio station. There, she met and married Johnnie Wright. With Wright and his sister, Louise Wright, Wells toured as Johnnie Wright & the Harmony Girls. With the addition of Louise's Jack Anglin, the band became known as the Tennessee Hillbillies and then became the Tennessee Mountain Boys. When Anglin was drafted in 1942, Wright and Wells continued performing together, and she took the name Kitty Wells from a folk ballad called "I'm A-Goin' to Marry Kitty Wells". When Anglin returned, he and Wright formed the duo Johnny & Jack with Wells occasionally performing back-up vocals. By 1947, the duo was appearing regularly at the Grand Ole Opry, mostly performing with Wells (who did appear with the pair for the Louisiana Hayride).
Wells began recording gospel with RCA (with Johnnie & Jack on instrumental accompaniment), then switched to Decca for her first hit, 1952's "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels", which was a response to "The Wild Side of Life" by Hank Thompson. The song was controversial for its feminist stance, then unheard of in country music, paving the way for future strong female country singers like Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, Skeeter Davis, and Loretta Lynn.
Wells then released a series of major hits, including "Paying for That Back Street Affair" (1953, answer song to Webb Pierce's "Back Street Affair"). During the remainder of the 50s, she had 23 hits which charted in the top ten. Between 1952 and 1965, Wells won virtuallly ever "Top Country Female Vocalist" award. Her career began declining in the late 1960s, though she continued recording and performing into the 1990s.
Kitty Wells' greatest hits include Making Believe (1955), Searching (1956), I Can't Stop Loving You (1958) which was later covered by Ray Charles, Amigo's Guitar (1959), Heartbreak USA (1961), Unloved, Unwanted (1962), This White Circle (1964), and You Don't Hear (1965). In all, she had 64 hits on the Billboard top 40 country chart, placing her among the 25 most-charted singers in the chart's history.
In 1974, Wells was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1991, she received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 1997, she recorded a Medley of "The Wild Side of Life" and "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" along with Hank Thompson and Tanya Tucker. IN 2001, the country music legend officially retired with a farewell performance in her hometown of Nashville.