At 91 years of age, Kitty Wells is the oldest living member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. And she can still surprise unsuspecting listeners. Despite her demure gingham dresses and sweet plaintive melodies, Wells was a radical. Some of her songs all but declare infidelity and promiscuousness:
I don't claim to be an angel, My life's been full of sin.
"I Don't Claim to Be an Angel" wasn't the first time those issues had been broached in country music, but Wells made hits. The Grand Ole Opry tried to ban the song, but, as Laura Cantrell tells Kurt Andersen, "the horse was out of the barn." Wells revolutionized what a woman could sing about and paved the way for Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette a generation later.
Cantrell – a singer and songwriter, and a former tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame – was raised on Wells' music. Her new record, Kitty Wells Dresses, is a top-to-bottom tribute. Cantrell visited Studio 360 to play a few Kitty Wells tunes with her band.
Bonus Track: "When the Roses Bloom Again" Laura Cantrell performs the song, from the album of the same name, live in Studio 360.