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In the late 1960s and the early 1970s, one clear true female voice was known as the signature of country music. That beautiful, expressive voice belonged to none other than Tammy Wynette. Her style can only be described as forthright and progressive. The signature tune she is known for, 'Stand By Your Man', is seen as anything but progressive

Born in Itawamba County, Mississippi on May 5, 1942 as Virginia Wynette Pugh. Raised by her grandparents on their cotton farm, she inherited her dreams of singing from her late father. William Pugh, her father, left Tammy with recordings of himself. He died less than a week after Tammy was born due to a brain tumor. Tammy's mother Mildred worked at a defense plant in Memphis during World War Two. Tammy followed the usual path to stardom many of the country traditionalists took at the time. She toured the South with several gospel bands. After her first marriage ended, Tammy performed several jobs which included barmaid as well as beautician. But thankfully, she stuck to her dream of becoming a country star. Several trips to Nashville kept her dream alive for performing on the Opry stage. The man who helped to launch many female country careers, Porter Wagoner, also aided Tammy in pursuit of her country dream. In 1966, Tammy made the move to Nashville.

Billy Sherrill, producer at Epic Records, took a meeting later that year to listen to a few songs Tammy was pitching to him. Two weeks after that meeting, her stage name was turned into Tammy Wynette and she began her recording career with Epic Records. Her first moderate hit, 'Apartment #9', received minor airplay. This Johnny Paycheck-Bobby Austin tune did give her a good starting point, though. One year later, Tammy reached the 1# spot on the country charts with a David Houston duet called 'I Don't Wanna Play House'. This tune won her a Grammy. She followed this triumph with one of her signature tunes, 'D-I-V-O-R-C-E', in 1968. Later that same year, the tune 'Stand By Your Man' took the country charts by storm as the rest of the country was engulfed in turbulent changes in society. But this tune led to Tammy being awarded the first of her 3 consecutive CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Awards. Success in her professional life didn't transfer to her personal life, though. Her marriage to singer/songwriter Don Chapel was undergoing some serious turmoil. After witnessing what this stress was doing to her personal life, country star George Jones offered to take Wynette and her daughters away from the problems. Tammy and George were married in February, 1969. Known by many as the 'President and First Lady of Country Music', this marriage ended in 1975.

By the end of the 1980s, Tammy had recorded and scored 20 number one singles, and had sold well over 30 million records. This included some more collaborations with friends, such as the CD 'Honky Tonk Angels' she recorded with Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. In a surprise move to some, she also recorded a tune with the British pop group KLF called 'Justified and Ancient'. She also rejoined her old recording partner George Jones on the CD 'One' in 1995.

Editorial comment: As a senior at Franklin Road Academy, I had the pleasure of attending school with one of Tammy's daughters. The night of our prom at F.R.A., Ms. Wynette took it upon herself to invite all of our class over to her house to celebrate our pending release upon society. Ms Wynette was a very nice person, and you could not have had a better hostess. She also had the patience of Job when it came to entertaining the horde of adolescents that descended upon her home.

Tammy Wynette's death occurred on April 9, 1998 by what was thought to be a blood clot . This is where the mystery begins now. Her daughters and several friends now are questioning the circumstances surrounding her death. Presently almost everyone involved in the case looking into her death have concurred there are many strange questions that need to be answered. Though the questions have yet to be answered, the one thing we do know is her voice, heart and soul will be missed here.