Influential Country Singer Anita Kerr Has Died

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Another country music legendary has left us…the great Anita Kerr.

The New York Times reports Anita passed away on Monday (October 10) in Geneva, Switzerland. She was 94 years old.

Her daughter, Kelley Kerr, confirmed the news on social media. She wrote:

Such sad news and what a great loss for the music industry. Anita was a legend in her time but first and foremost she was my mother. May you rest in peace. I will forever miss you but I am comforted in knowing that you are now singing with Angels. You are forever in my heart.”

Anita was a key player in the country music industry. She formed a vocal group in Nashville called the Anita Kerr Singers, and that group contributed backing vocals to songs recorded by artists such as Ernest Tubb and Eddy Arnold.

Later, the Anita Kerr Singers performed on tracks recorded by the megastars of the 50s and 60s, including Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson. The group’s vocals were arranged by Anita herself.

Anita worked alongside other influential figures in country music such as producers Chet Akins and Owen Bradley. Together, they became the pioneers of what we now know as the “Nashville Sound.”

Some characteristics of the Nashville Sound were smooth instrumentals and flowing background vocals. These new characteristics led country music toward a more polished, pop-like sound.

The Anita Kerr singers also recorded backing vocals for many pop artists at the time, including Brenda Lee and Roy Orbison. They also released some of their own albums. The group won a total of three Grammys: two for Best Performance by a Vocal Group and one for Best Gospel or Other Religious Recording.

Anita’s contributions to the country music industry were recognized by Country Music Hall of Fame CEO Kyle Young. He released the following statement after learning about her death:

Anita Kerr helped Nashville achieve world-class stature as a music center through her roles as a gifted arranger, producer, and leader of the lush vocal quartet the Anita Kerr Singers. At a time when women rarely led recording sessions, she worked alongside key producers Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley, and was intimately involved in shaping the hits of Eddy Arnold, Skeeter Davis, Brenda Lee, Jim Reeves, and many more that gave the world the enormously popular Nashville Sound. Her voice and her creativity expanded the artistic and commercial possibilities for country music.”

Remember Anita by watching one of her performances in the video below. She left her mark on country music, and will surely be missed…

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