Jean Shepard (born November 21, 1933 in Paul's Valley, Oklahoma as Ollie Imogene Shepard)was one of the first female vocalists in the country music field to become a major star in the early 1950's.
Shepard's family moved west to Visalia, California in hopes of a better life. In high school, Shepard formed the Melody Ranch Girls, which became locally famous. One night, Country star Hank Thompson saw Shepard performing at a show and liked what he heard. With Thompson's help, Shepard was able to get a recording contract with Capitol Records in 1952. In 1952, Shepard cut various recordings, but none were successful.
In 1953, Shepard cut a duet recording with up and coming country star Ferlin Husky called "A Dear John Letter". The song became a huge hit that year and went right to #1 on the Country charts. The song made both singers instant stars.
Jean Shepard's next big hit was in 1955 and was a solo hit called "A Satisfied Mind". At this time, Shepard moved to Missouri to work on a new show caled Ozark Jubliee. In 1955, Shepard also joined The Grand Ole Opry, where she still remains a member. In 1960, Jean Shepard married fellow Country star Hawkshaw Hawkins. However, in 1963, Hawkins died in a plane crash, which was the same plane crash that killed Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas.
In 1973, Shepard left Capitol Records and signed with United Artists Records, immediately having the biggest hit record of her career with "Slippin' Away", written by Bill Anderson.
Shepard made her last appearance on the national charts in 1978 but she has remained a highly active entertainer at the Opry, occasionally touring, and recording with several recent CD releases on smaller labels that show her in still fine voice in her seventies. To this day, Jean Shepard is known as the "Grand Lady of the Grand Ole Opry".
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