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Wynette gets Hall of Fame treatment

Friday, April 9, 2010 – Tammy Wynette will get the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum treatment through a special exhibtition. Tammy Wynette: First Lady of Country Music opens in the Museum's East Gallery on Aug. 20 and runs through June 2011.

"Tammy Wynette was a true steel magnolia, a daughter of the South whose ladylike appearance and slight physical stature belied the magnitude of her grit, determination and talent," said Museum Director Kyle Young. "Throughout her career, her personal and professional lives were indistinguishably interwoven, resulting in achingly honest recordings and performances to which fans could relate. She helped redefine what it means to be a female country singer. Her death at age 55 came far too soon, but Tammy left behind a musical canon that is among the strongest and most influential in American music history."

Tammy Wynette: First Lady of Country Music will be accompanied by an ongoing series of programs throughout the exhibit's duration. Curators are still deciding what artifacts and audio and video will be included.

Born Virginia Wynette Pugh on May 5, 1942, the Mississippi native was raised by her cotton-farming grandparents. Her father, who died of a brain tumor before Wynette turned one, had once attempted a singing career. As a child and young teen, Wynette, whose mother had taken a job at a Memphis defense plant, attended school, helped her grandparents pick cotton and in her spare time took music lessons and sang with two friends on a local gospel radio show.

At 17, Wynette married Euple Byrd, with whom she had 3 daughters. With no steady employment, Byrd moved the family around, and Wynette held various jobs, including a stint as barmaid and singer in Memphis. She also got her beautician's license. (Wynette famously renewed the license every year for the rest of her life and kept it as an economic Plan B.) Wynette's marriage to Byrd was not a happy one, and the couple divorced in 1965. That same year, Wynette was discovered by Birmingham TV host Country Boy Eddie, and she performed on his show several times. After landing a brief tour with Porter Wagoner, Wynette moved to Music City in 1966.

In Nashville, Wynette met singer-songwriter Don Chapel, who recognized her singing and writing talents and helped her develop them. At the same time, she visited the office of Epic Records executive and producer-songwriter Billy Sherrill to pitch him some songs. Sherrill was impressed with Wynette's voice and signed her to Epic. The producer, however, was not enamored of her name and suggested a catchier moniker, Tammy. The Sherrill-Wynette collaboration yielded instant success: Wynette's first single, Apartment #9, made an impact on the country charts and her follow-up, Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad, was a Top Five hit. Two number one hits soon followed: My Elusive Dreams, a duet with David Houston, and I Don't Wanna Play House, which Wynette won a Best Female Country Vocal Performance Grammy award.

Wynette married Chapel in 1967 and divorced him the following year; the dissolution coincided with another Wynette smash, D-I-V-O-R-C-E. Also in 1968, she released what would become her signature song: Stand by Your Man. The anthem, co-written by Wynette and Sherrill, was the most controversial and most enduring song of Wynette's career. While criticized by the women's movement, Wynette said she intended the song as an expression of a romantic ideal. Wynette was awarded the first of three consecutive CMA Female Vocalist of the Year awards; Stand by Your Man also netted Wynette her second Best Female Country Vocal Performance Grammy.

Wynette's next marriage, to fellow superstar George Jones, yielded a daughter and a series of now classic duet hits, including "Golden Ring," "We're Gonna Hold On" and "(We're Not) The Jet Set." The tumultuous relationship ended in divorce in 1975 and was followed by a brief six-week marriage to Michael Tomlin in 1976. Wynette married songwriter-producer George Richey in 1978 and she remained with him for the rest of her life. Golden Ring, We're Gonna Hold On and (We're Not) The Jet Set. The relationship ended in divorce in 1975 and was followed by a brief 6-week marriage to Michael Tomlin in 1976. Wynette married songwriter-producer George Richey in 1978, and she remained with him for the rest of her life.

While Wynette's chart hits waned in the 1980s, she continued to tour successfully; she also began recording with numerous other artists. Her suprising 1992 collaboration with British duo KLF, Justified and Ancient, became an international hit and put Wynette into rotation on MTV. In 1993, Wynette teamed with Lynn and Parton for the hit album "Honky Tonk Angels." Her next release, "Without Walls," was a collection of duets featuring Elton John, Smokey Robinson, Sting and others. Wynette reteamed with Jones in 1995 for another album of duets, "One."

Wynette was beset by various health problems most of her adult life; she endured more than two dozen major surgeries and suffered an abdominal infection that was nearly fatal. As a result, the singer developed an addiction to painkillers and in the 1980s sought treatment at the Betty Ford Center.

Wynette died at age 55 on April 6, 1998. She was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame later that year.

More news for Tammy Wynette

CD reviews for Tammy Wynette

Take Me to Your World/I Don't Wanna Play House
"Take Me to Your World/I Don't Wanna Play House," originally released 30 years ago and rather awkwardly named after its two biggest hits, was Tammy Wynette's second album. If not quite on a par with her achievements in her subsequent two releases "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" and "Stand By Your Man," this is no slouch for all that. "Jackson Ain't a Very Big Town," "Broadminded" and the two title tracks all show producer Billy Sherrill already finding appropriate vehicles for the lyrical subjects and the vocals »»»
Stand By Your Man
No one had a bigger voice or a more tragic catch to their voice than Tammy Wynette - and in that open-throated heartbreak, the collective psyches and traumas of the post-feminist non-feminist woman rose and fell. "Stand By Your Man," from a sociologist's perspective, is certainly the song and, in turn, the album that galvanized Wynette's place as the anti-Steinem; a fact that's both important and misleading. Wynette was never about subservience or being done wrong. She was about compassion and »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Kristofferson gives insight, but no easy answers – When they say music gets better with age, they're not always just talking about songs alone; sometimes they're also referring to the listener. When Kris Kristofferson sings, "Well, I woke up Sunday morning/With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt," to smartly open "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," he... »»»
Concert Review: No sugarcoating, Welch dishes out an experience – Gillian Welch (accompanied, as always, by master guitarist David Rawlings), celebrated her "The Harrow & The Harvest" album with a powerful night of music. She apologized many times for the utter unhappiness expressed through this album's songs, admitting it's "not the most chipper album" at one point.... »»»
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