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Jan Howard

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Jan Howard has seen her share of ups and downs personally and professionally and has managed to come out on top.

Married at age 15, Jan had three sons before she turned 21. After two divorces, she headed to Los Angeles and took on jobs as a waitress and a secretary to support her family.

Through singer Wynn Stewart she met and later married up-and-coming songwriter Harlan Howard. Although she had no musical training or experience, Harlan convinced her to record demos of his songs, which brought her the attention and encouragement of Johnny Bond and Tex Ritter. In 1959, she and Stewart recorded the duet “Yankee Go Home.” That same year she made her Opry debut; it was one of the first times the $65-a-week secretary had ever sung on stage.

The Howards moved from California to Nashville in 1960. Jan’s first solo single, “The One You Slip Around With,” was a Top 10 hit, and both Billboard and Cash Box magazines named her their Most Promising Country Vocalist.

In 1964, she signed with Decca Records and had another hit in 1965 with “What Makes a Man Wander.” That same year she joined Bill Anderson’s syndicated TV and road show and sang with him regularly on the Opry. For seven years they won many top-duo awards, and she enjoyed her greatest chart success with their duets: “For Loving You” went to No. 1 and was followed by four Top 5 hits.

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