Jan Howard

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Jan Howard
Jan Howard.jpg
Howard at the Grand Ole Opry in 2007
Background information
Birth nameLula Grace Johnson
Also known asJan Howard
Born (1929-03-13) March 13, 1929 (age 89)
Origin9650 Natural Bridge Rd, Berkeley, MO 63134 West Plains, Missouri, U.S.
Genres Country, Nashville Sound
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, actress
Years active1960present
Labels Challenge Records
GRT Records
Con Brio Records
MCA/Dot Records
Associated acts Harlan Howard, Bill Anderson, Wynn Stewart, Jeannie Seely, Dolly Parton, Jean Shepard
Website www.janhoward.com

Lula Grace Johnson (born March 13, 1929)[ citation needed ], known professionally as Jan Howard, is an American country music singer and Grand Ole Opry star. She attained popular success as a country female vocalist during the 1960s and early 1970s and was twice nominated for the Best Female Country Vocal Performance Grammy award. Many of her hits were written by her husband at the time, Harlan Howard.

Country music, also known as country and western, and hillbilly music, is a genre of popular music that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s. It takes its roots from genres such as folk music and blues.

<i>Grand Ole Opry</i> radio program

The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly American country music stage concert in Nashville, Tennessee founded on November 28, 1925, by George D. Hay as a one-hour radio "barn dance" on WSM. Currently owned and operated by Opry Entertainment, it is the longest running radio broadcast in US history. Dedicated to honoring country music and its history, the Opry showcases a mix of famous singers and contemporary chart-toppers performing country, bluegrass, Americana, folk, and gospel music as well as comedic performances and skits. It attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world and millions of radio and internet listeners.


Howard's biggest hit and signature song was the 1966 country hit "Evil on Your Mind", which peaked at number five on the Billboard country charts. The song is included in the book Heartaches By the Number: The 500 Greatest Country Music Singles. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, she dueted with Bill Anderson on a number of top-10 hits, including the number-one hit "For Loving You".

"Evil on Your Mind" is the name of a popular Country music song, originally made famous by Grand Ole Opry star Jan Howard in 1966.

<i>Billboard</i> (magazine) American music magazine

Billboard is an American entertainment media brand owned by the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group, a division of Eldridge Industries. It publishes pieces involving news, video, opinion, reviews, events, and style, and is also known for its music charts, including the Hot 100 and Billboard 200, tracking the most popular songs and albums in different genres. It also hosts events, owns a publishing firm, and operates several TV shows.

"For Loving You" is a 1967 duet by Bill Anderson and Jan Howard. The single was the duo's most successful release. "For Loving You" went to number one on the country charts in four weeks and spent 20 weeks on the chart.


Early life and rise to fame

Howard was born in West Plains, Missouri, in 1930, one of eight children. At age 15, she married, and soon had children. After dealing with two unsuccessful marriages, she moved to Los Angeles, California, where she met aspiring songwriter Harlan Howard. They married in Las Vegas one month later. One evening, she was singing while washing dishes in her kitchen and Harlan heard her sing for the first time, and liked what he heard. He thought Jan had talent and wanted her to become a country music singer. [ citation needed ]

West Plains, Missouri City in Missouri, United States

West Plains is a city in Howell County, Missouri, United States. The population was 11,986 at the 2010 Census. It is the county seat of Howell County.

Harlan persuaded Jan to make a demonstration (demo) tape of one of the songs he wrote, "Mommy For a Day". The song was later a big hit for Kitty Wells. She soon worked as a demo singer for her husband, singing demos for other country artists, such as Buck Owens and Tex Ritter. Jan Howard originally sang the demo for the Patsy Cline hit "I Fall to Pieces".

Kitty Wells American country music singer

Ellen Muriel Deason, known professionally as Kitty Wells, was an American pioneering female country music singer. She broke down a female barrier in country music with her 1952 hit recording, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" which also made her the first female country singer to top the U.S. country charts, and turned her into the first female country superstar. “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” would also be her first of several pop cross over hits. Wells is the only female artist to be awarded top female vocalist awards for 14 consecutive years. Her chart topping hits continued until the mid-1960s, paving the way for and inspiring a long list of female country singers who came to prominence in the 1960s.

Demo (music) song or group of songs recorded for limited circulation or reference use rather than for general public release

A demo is a song or group of songs recorded for limited circulation or reference use rather than for general public release. A demo is a way for a musician to approximate their ideas in a fixed format, such as cassette tape, compact disc, or digital audio files, and to thereby pass along those ideas to record labels, record producers, or to other artists.

Buck Owens Alvis Edgar Owens Jr., American musician, singer, songwriter and band leader, 21 number 1 hits, Billboard magazine country music with Buckaroos

Alvis Edgar Owens Jr., professionally known as Buck Owens, was an American musician, singer, songwriter and band leader who had 21 No. 1 hits on the Billboard country music charts with his band the Buckaroos. They pioneered what came to be called the Bakersfield sound, named after Bakersfield, California, the city Owens called home and from which he drew inspiration for what he preferred to call American music.

In 1959, she made her debut as a recording artist backed by Wynn Stewart's band. She recorded her first song that year called "Yankee Go Home", along with the Harlan Howard composition, "Pick Me Up on Your Way Down" (which was once recorded by Charlie Walker).

Wynn Stewart American singer

Winford Lindsey Stewart, better known as Wynn Stewart, was an American country music performer. He was one of the progenitors of the Bakersfield sound. Although not a huge chart success, he was an inspiration to such greats as Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Nick Lowe.

Charlie Walker (musician) American singer

Charlie Walker was an American country musician born in Copeville, Texas. He held membership in the Grand Ole Opry from 1967, and was inducted into the Country Radio DJ Hall of Fame in 1981.

Success in the '60s

In 1959, under the name Jan Howard, she released the single "Yankee Go Home", which failed to hit the country charts. In 1960, the Howards went to Nashville, Tennessee, where they appeared on The Prince Albert Show, the Grand Ole Opry segment carried nationally by NBC Radio. Howard then released her first single under her new record company, Challenge. Titled "The One You Slip Around With", the song was Howard's first significant country hit, hitting the top 15, peaking at number 13 on the Billboard country music chart and earning her several Most Promising Female Vocalist awards (over, among others, another newcomer, Loretta Lynn). Occasional appearances on the Grand Ole Opry led to friendships with several country singers, including Patsy Cline. According to Cline's 1980 biography, Honky Tonk Angel, Cline originally yelled at Howard after a performance on the Opry stage. Howard fought back, and Cline was shocked by her reply. Cline then said to Howard, "Anybody who stands up to Cline is all right, we're gonna be good friends." The two were good friends until Cline's death in 1963.

Loretta Lynn American country-music singer-songwriter

Loretta Lynn is an American country music singer-songwriter with multiple gold albums in a career spanning almost 60 years. She is famous for hits such as "You Ain't Woman Enough ", "Don't Come Home A' Drinkin' ", "One's on the Way", "Fist City", and "Coal Miner's Daughter" along with the 1980 biographical film of the same name.

Meanwhile, painfully shy Jan was suffering from the psychological scars of her youth, as well as the anxiety of beginning a new adventure. When her weight dropped below 97 pounds, Harlan hospitalized Jan and she went into therapy. [1]

Howard appeared on ABC-TV's Jubilee USA on February 6, 1960, and later that year she won Billboard magazine's Most Promising Female Country Award. In 1962, she charted successfully on the country charts at number 27 with, "I Wish I Was a Single Girl Again". However, none of Howard's follow-up singles was successful.

The Decca years

Jan Howard signed with Decca Records in 1965 and immediately had a career upswing. Her first Decca record, "What Makes a Man Wander", hit the top 25 on the country charts; 1966's "Evil on Your Mind" was the biggest solo hit of Howard's career, hitting number five on the Billboard chart. The follow-up to "Evil on Your Mind" was "Bad Seed". The song reached the top 10 in 1966. Howard began recording duets with singer Bill Anderson and joined his syndicated television show and touring act as his "girl singer". Their first duet record was a remake of "I Know You're Married (But I Love You Still)". The duo went on to have several top 10 songs, including the 1967 number one hit, "For Loving You".

Between 1967 and 1972, Howard chalked up a number of solo of top 40 hits, such as "Roll Over and Play Dead" (1967), "Any Old Way You Do" (1967), and "I Still Believe in Love" (1968). Top 20 hits from this time include "My Son" (1969) and "We Had All the Good Things Going" (1969). "My Son", a recitation song, was Howard's most personal composition. She dreamed in 1968 that her son, who was fighting in the Vietnam War, would be killed in battle, which came true. Her son, U.S. Army Corporal James Van Howard, would be reported killed in action by the U.S. Department of Defense on October 31, 1968. [2] [3] "My Son" was a top 15 country hit in 1969. Howard was also an accomplished songwriter. In 1966, she wrote the Kitty Wells hit "It's All Over But the Crying", and in 1970 she wrote the Bill Anderson hit "Love Is a Sometimes Thing". Together, Bill and Jan wrote the 1970 Connie Smith hit "I Never Once Stopped Loving You". She co-wrote "Dis-Satisfied" with one of her three sons, Carter Howard. [ citation needed ]

The 1970s

In 1970, Howard and Anderson's record "If It's All the Same to You" hit number two on the country charts that year, just missing the top spot. Their album of the same name was released that year also. Their 1970 album Bill and Jan or Jan and Bill spawned two more top-10 country singles, "Someday We'll Be Together" (1970) and "Dis-Satisfied" (1971). In 1970 and 1971, the duet pair was nominated for Vocal Duo of the Year by the CMA Awards. Howard's solo recordings began to be somewhat less successful in the early 1970s, hitting the top 40 as a soloist only twice with "Rock Me Back to Little Rock" (1970) and "Love is Like a Spinning Wheel" (1972). Howard left Decca in 1973 and later signed with GRT Records and then Con Brio Records. Her last charting single in Billboard was in 1978.

Howard's son David committed suicide. This devastated Howard, still reeling from her older son's death in Vietnam four years earlier, and she seriously considered quitting the music industry. She did limit her personal appearances for many years, retiring from the Bill Anderson touring show and ultimately replaced by Mary Lou Turner. In 1973, she left Decca Records (shortly after it changed into MCA Records) and recorded for several smaller labels, hitting the back of the country charts several times into the late 1970s. A long time friend of June Carter she was matron of honor at Carter's wedding to Johnny Cash in 1968 and sang the line "Mama sang tenor" uncredited on Cash's 1970 Daddy Sang Bass. In 1976, she began appearing with Johnny Cash's touring show, performing as a soloist and as an unofficial member of the Carter Family. Howard left the show in 1979 after references made by the media regarding rumors of an affair between Howard and Cash that were rather clumsily dismissed by Cash, and Cash biographies leave the question unresolved. [4]

In 1978-79, Howard briefly worked as a background vocalist for her friend Tammy Wynette as part of a female trio called "Sunshine" whose members also included another country soloist, Sue Richards. Howard remained a solo recording artist and prominent member of the Grand Ole Opry throughout this period of doing background concert work.

Later career and life today

Since March 27, 1971, Howard has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry. [5] [6] She has toured every state in the United States, and has also toured in 21 countries. She has also appeared on The Today Show , Family Feud , and Hee Haw . In 1983, Howard released a single, a "country" cover of the pop hit Tainted Love by Soft Cell but neither her single or album of the same name attracted much attention. Her autobiography, Sunshine and Shadow, published in 1987, on the other hand, lead to many television appearances to plug the book including an interview on Hour Magazine with Gary Collins.

In 1990, Howard remarried. In 2005, she was inducted into the Missouri Country Music Hall of Fame. Howard released a limited edition box set called Through the Years in 2005 from her Decca recordings that was sold through her website that is not currently available, although a smaller collection with the same name is still for sale. Her hometown of West Plains, Missouri, pays homage to Howard by observing a Jan Howard Day annually. In West Plains, the US 63 bypass is known as the Jan Howard Expressway. In 2002, Howard made her acting debut with a small role in the feature film Changing Hearts starring Faye Dunaway, which featured Howard's friend, country singer Jeannie Seely. [7]

In 2017, Howard, alongside Jessi Colter, appeared on Jeannie Seely's album Written In Song, singing on the track "We're Still Hangin' In There Ain't We Jessi". [8] Now in her late eighties, Howard seldom performs live, one of her most recent appearances being a tribute show to Jean Shepard in 2016 which she specifically came out of retirement to honor Shepard.

Howard was interviewed for, and briefly appears in, Ken Burns' 2017 documentary about the Vietnam War. In it, she recalls one day when a group of antiwar protesters came to her house to invite her to participate in a rally against the Vietnam War. She told them that her son died in Vietnam in part for the right to demonstrate for such causes, but refused their invitation and warned them that "if you ever ring my doorbell again, I'll blow your damned head off with a .357 Magnum."


Awards and nominations

YearAward ProgramAwardResult
1960Billboard magazineMost Promising Female ArtistWon
1966 Grammy Awards Best Female Country Vocal Performance for "Evil on Your Mind"Nominated
1968Grammy Awards Best Female Country Vocal Performance for "My Son"Nominated
1968 CMA Awards Vocal Duo or Group of the Year (with Bill Anderson)Nominated
1970CMA AwardsVocal Duo of the Year (with Bill Anderson)Nominated
1971CMA AwardsVocal Duo of the Year (with Bill Anderson)Nominated

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  1. Jan Howard biography at janhoward.com
  2. "'My Son' Killed In Viet War", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 2, 1968, p2
  3. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund site
  4. Grant, Marshall (2006), I Was There When It Happened - My Life with Johnny Cash, Cumberland House, ISBN   1-58182-510-2
  5. "Jan Howard". Grand Ole Opry. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  6. "Opry Member List PDF" (PDF). April 23, 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 7, 2012. Retrieved June 29, 2012.
  7. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0303860/
  8. http://www.cmt.com/news/1775143/11-new-albums-coming-in-the-new-year/