The heavens sway to the sound of Nashville today.
Anita Kerr, a country music icon and trailblazer known as a great contributor to the rich “Nashville Sound,” died Monday, October 10 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Kerr moved to Nashville in 1947 where she formed a vocal quintet. The Anita Kerr Singers were eventually hired by WSM, the station that aired “The Grand Ole Opry”, to perform on the show “Sunday Down South”. They were then signed to Decca Records.
Throughout her time in Music City, the prolific singer, songwriter and arranger and her band worked alongside producers Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley, and they did studio work for Elvis Presley and Patsy Cline.
The Anita Kerr Singers’ backing vocals can be heard on thousands of famous songs and jingles recorded in Nashville in the 1950s and 1960s. What started as two sessions a week soon grew to 12-18 sessions a week plus a national schedule of five days a week at WSM with Jim Reeves.
On her website, you can find her declaration of love for her art:
“I did everything music-wise, I couldn’t get enough of it.”
“I never had the problem of wondering what I was going to do when I grew up. I always knew it would be music.
The Grammy Winner is not in the Country Music Hall of Fame although he has performed on hits by many Hall of Famers such as Red Foley, Eddy Arnold and Hank Snow.
Earlier this year, author Barry Pugh published Kerr’s biography titled Anita Kerr: First Lady of Music.
In the words of Pugh:
“What this gifted and disciplined artist achieved in the male world that was Nashville in the 1950s, and her rise on the West Coast in the 1960s, is the great untold story of popular music.”
According to New York TimesMs Kerr was known as a protector of country music’s viability in the face of the “commercial threat” presented by the emergence of rock ‘n’ roll.
His legacy and his music live on.
Rest in peace.