Entertainment, On A High Note

Country musician Jean Shepard: living a lifetime of music

She is a true pioneer for women in country music and forever transformed the way women would be seen in the country music world. She has been a valuable part of our country music family for over six decades, ever since her first hit song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Country charts in 1953. This duet with Ferlin Husky, 1953’s hit “A Dear John Letter,” was the first of many hits for our featured artist today.

Grand Ole Opry member Jean Shepard has been a member for over six decades. PHOTO COURTESY JEAN SHEPARD

Grand Ole Opry member Jean Shepard has been a member for over six decades. PHOTO COURTESY JEAN SHEPARD

She has recorded 24 studio albums during her long career, and she has been a member of the Grand Ole Olry for an impressive six decades, ever since her induction in 1955. We are going to take a look at America’s honky tonk singer from Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, Ms. Jean Shepard.

When she was in her teens, she was the bass player for an all-girl band, but within a few years Shepard became a solo artist and began a career that has lasted more than half a century. “I would have to say Hank Thompson helped me get signed to Capitol Records, which helped launch my career,” claims Shepard. “There have been so many to help me along the way, but Thompson’s help made the difference.” In the mid-’50s, Shepard toured with such legendary artists as Buck Owens, Web Pierce and many more.

Jean Shepard the cowgirl. PHOTO COURTESY JEAN SHEPARD

Jean Shepard the cowgirl. PHOTO COURTESY JEAN SHEPARD

The Country Music Hall of Fame inducted Shepard for her success as an artist in 2011. “I would have to say being inducted into the Hall of Fame was the biggest highlight of my career,” Shepard expressed. This success is the kind that is admired and coveted by many, but it was well deserved, because for decades Shepard’s music has touched the lives of many country music fans through her tours and duets with some of country music’s greatest legends. “Marty Robbins was my favorite person to sing with,” Shepard relayed. “I enjoyed performing with many, but he was my favorite.”

Jean Shepard in the early days of her career. PHOTO COURTESY JEAN SHEPARD

Jean Shepard in the early days of her career. PHOTO COURTESY JEAN SHEPARD

Shepard has released a book called “Jean Shepard, Down Through the Years” and it tells her story, along with thoughts from other legends such as Bill Anderson, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill and Jim Ed Brown. The book is packed full of behind-the-scenes stories shared between Shepard and some of her peers. Jean Shepard continues to be a huge influence in traditional music, and her book gives a female artist’s perspective on the “Golden Age of Country Music.” She still performs at the Grand Ole Opry and claims it has the greatest fan base in the world.

We honor a woman who has watched the world from the top of it for many years – she grabbed hold and never let go. Any music artist would be grateful to live her success. The next time you’re checking out legendary music, check out Jean Shepard and introduce yourself to great classic, honky tonk music of the ’50s, ’60s and beyond. Check out her website or find her on Facebook.