Country Music Singer Jody Miller dies at 80

Jody Miller in 1985. By Capitol Records, Public Domain, https commons.wikimedia.org

FROM WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

Myrna Joy “Jody” Miller (November 29, 1941 – October 6, 2022) was an American country music singer.

In 1999, the Country Gospel Music Association inducted Miller into its Hall of Fame, along with Loretta LynnBarbara MandrellAndy GriffithDavid L. Cook and Lulu Roman. Miller and her daughter Robin recorded and toured together for a period of time. Miller continued to perform live and sing her secular hits as well as her gospel material.

Miller died on October 6, 2022, in Blanchard. She was 80, and suffered from Parkinson’s disease in the seven years prior to her death.

CAREER

The actor, Dale Robertson, introduced Miller to Capitol Records, after Miller had begun her career in the early 1960s as a folk/pop singer, singing in the Los Angeles area and appearing on Tom Paxton‘s television series. She released her first album on Capitol in 1964 and had a modest pop hit that year with “He Walks Like a Man” in the US.

In 1965, Miller participated in the Sanremo Festival as a team companion of Pino Donaggio. Since the Festival was created as a composers’ competition, Miller and Donaggio presented differently arranged versions of the entry “Io che non vivo (senza te)”. The song came in at No. 7 and was only a moderate hit, until Dusty Springfield recorded an English version in 1966 which was eventually released as “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me“. Also in 1965, Miller released an answer record to Roger Miller‘s blockbuster hit “King of the Road“, titled “Queen of the House” (which became her signature hit, peaking at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number 5 on the country singles chart). Miller won the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for the song in 1966.

Miller scored a second top 40 pop hit that year with “Home of the Brave”, a No. 25 Hot 100 hit, that was historically significant for tackling the issue of non-comformity and tolerance. The theme prevented it from making headway in the more socially conservative country chart in 1965. By the mid-1960s, Miller became a pioneer crossover female vocalist, opening the doors for Linda RonstadtAnne Murray, and Olivia Newton-John, and others as a pop singer recording a strong country influence and finding success in both genres. Miller’s pop success petered out by the late 1960s. Tammy Wynette‘s record producer, Billy Sherrill, was a fan of Miller. He signed her to Epic Records in 1970 to record specifically for the country market. She had two more country hits, with “Look At Mine” nearly making the Top 20, and a Top 20 hit with “If You Think I Love You Now (I Just Started)” in early 1971. She recorded a remake of the Chiffons 1963 hit “He’s So Fine“, which hit the top 5 on the country chart and No. 53 on the pop chart that summer, garnering another Grammy Award nomination.

Several major country hits followed, many of them remakes of pop/rock classics such as “Baby I’m Yours,” “Be My Baby,” and “To Know Him Is to Love Him“. Among the new country songs she had hits with were the top tens “There’s a Party Goin’ On,” “Good News,” and “Darling, You Can Always Come Back Home.” In the mid-1970s she had smaller hits with both new songs like “Reflections” (not the Diana Ross and the Supremes hit) and cover versions of pop hits like “House of the Rising Sun“, a hit for The Animals, and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman“, the Aretha Franklin hit. Miller’s last top 30 country hit was 1977’s “When the New Wears Off Our Love,” and two years later she made her final chart appearance.

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