It is with heavy hearts that we inform you that country music legend Jean Shepard passed away Sunday at the age of 82.
Shepard was known as the “grand lady of the Grand Ole Opry” and was extremely influential woman in the once-male dominated genre of country music.
From Fox News:
Spokeswoman Jessie Schmidt said in a news release that Shepard had entered hospice care last week and died in Nashville.
“The Opry family is truly saddened by the news of Jean’s passing,” Opry vice president and general manager Pete Fisher said in the statement. “Although we will miss Jean’s presence on the Opry stage, she has left us the wonderful gift of her music which will be remembered for generations to come.”
Shepard joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry in 1955 and helped set the standard for women in country music, choosing to tour as a solo act rather than as part of a group. She presented a strong female point of view on songs like “Twice the Lovin’ in Half the Time” and “The Root of All Evil (Is a Man),” influencing such key figures in country music as Loretta Lynn who came along a decade later.
Shepard also was credited with releasing country music’s first concept album, “Songs From a Love Affair,” in 1956.
In 2005, she became the first female singer to reach 50 years as a Grand Ole Opry member, according to the Opry’s website.
Shepard was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011 as she continued to perform regularly on the Grand Ole Opry.
Shepard is survived by her husband, Benny Birchfield, and sons Don Robin Hawkins, Harold Franklin Hawkins II and Corey Birchfield.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Shepard’s entire family during this trying time Shepard was a music legend and will be greatly missed!