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Tammy Wynette- "The First Lady of Country Music"

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Friday, May 5, 2017 - 8:20am


Jennifer Ford

Born on May 5, 1942, country music legend Tammy Wynette would have been 75 today. Known as the “First Lady of Country Music,” the Tremont, Mississippi native became one of the best-selling female artists in country music.  She had over twenty songs hitting the top spot in the country music charts through the years. Born Virginia Wynette Pugh, Wynette settled on her stage name on the advice of her producer Billy Sherrill who thought she bore a resemblance to the character "Tammy" from the hit movie Tammy and the Bachelor.

Wynette's career began to take off by December 1966 when she released her first single "Apartment No.9" which was followed soon afterwards by a string of hits lasting through the 1970s, such as the ballad "Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad." She received a Grammy in 1967 for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and would go on to win another for "Stand By Your Man" in 1970. In 1998 the singer was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and would receive several other lifetime achievement awards.

"Stand By Your Man" is perhaps Wynette's best known song. Allegedly written in just 15 minutes, the song would prove to be controversial as many supporters of the emerging Women's Rights Movement of the 1970's criticized its message which places women in a subservient role to men. However, the song's popularity has continued through the years and is considered by many to be a classic of country music. Wynette's popularity went on to ebb and flow through the 1980s through the 1990s.

Wynette suffered numerous health issues through the years and died on April 6, 1998. Her influence on country music and American culture is undeniable.

Feautred below are images of archival materials from the collections of the Department of Archives & Special Collections at the University of Mississippi. These include the cover of her hit album, D-I-V-O-R-C-E and a recipe for sweet potato casserole handed down by her mother which was included in her 1990 cookbook The Tammy Wynette Southern Cookbook.

recipie for sweet potato casseroleTammy Wynette DIVORCE album cover