Country Music Game-Changer: Kitty Wells


Eight Second Angel boots is proud to honor the roots of country music and the hard-working, independent women who played a part in making country music what it is today. 

Kitty Wells, a Nashville-native (a rarity, if you’d believe that), was the first female to ever have a No. 1 hit on Billboard. She did it with a witty answer song called “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” a response to Hank Thompson’s “The Wild Side of Life.” Females had rarely dared to go against their male cohorts, much less through such a boldly-crafted song. It utilized the idea that faithless men created rowdy, faithless women and that they were independent enough to ultimately make their own decisions. The song was banned from being played at the Grand Ole Opry, but still sold over one million singles.

At the time, Kitty’s husband was a part of a successful country music duo with his brother. A record executive actually approached him about Kitty recording the now legendary song. Irony at its finest.

She followed that up with 1953’s “Paying for That Back Street Affair,” another answer song: this time to Webb Pierce’s “Back Street Affair.” This caused quite a stir in the mainstream, ultimately leading to breakthroughs by such equally-challenging female soloists as Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline.

Wells possessed that signature country tear that rips your heart out and stomps it on the barroom floor. With cutting lyricism, she is noted as the consummate singer-songwriter with an empowering female message, forever setting the platinum standard by which any aspiring artist (worth their salt) is tested. Despite societal norms at the time, Wells fought for her voice to be heard and leveled the playing field in a profound way. After a string of Top 10 hits that lasted well into the early ’70s, and despite never returning to the mountainous summit ever again, she goes down in history as the Queen of Country Music: the female artist that forever changed the format for the better.

Without her, who knows how country music would have turned out.

Image Source: Bear Family Records, CMA