During the '60s, Jan Howard was one of the hottest female vocalists in country music. Born Lula Grace Johnson in West Plains, Missouri, she moved to L.A. in 1953 and became involved with songwriter Harlan Howard, whom she married a month after they first met. Howard helped her break into country music, sending her demos to various companies. As a result she began singing demos for Tex Ritter and Johnny Bond. In 1959, using the pseudonym "Jan Howard," she recorded "Yankee Go Home."
In 1960, the Howards went to Nashville; there, Jan appeared on the Prince Albert Show segment of the Grand Ole Opry. Later that year, the Howards moved to Nashville permanently, where Jan's successful duet with Wynn Stewart resulted in her first solo single, "The One You Slip Around With," which made the Top 15; her next song, another duet with Stewart, reached the Top 30. In 1962, she charted with "I Wish I Was a Single Girl Again" and issued an eponymous album. Although she didn't do well on the charts, she continued to tour extensively.
Two years later her career finally caught fire. Her songs of the period reflected her troubled marriage; in 1965, she reached the Top 30 with "What Makes a Man Wander?" Later that year, Howard joined Bill Anderson's touring and television shows. In 1966, she and Anderson scored two hits with "In Know You're Married (But I Love You Still)" and "Time Out." She then scored a Top Five hit with her solo "Evil on Your Mind. " Her next hit was "Bad Seed," and towards the end of the year, she had her only number one hit with "For Loving You," a duet with Anderson.
In October 1968, Howard dreamed that her eldest son had been killed in Vietnam, which turned out to be true; shortly thereafter, she released the Top 15 single "My Son." In 1971, Howard became a member of the Grand Ole Opry; two years later, her youngest son committed suicide. She joined the Johnny Cash Show and in 1977 had three minor hits, including "To Love A Rolling Stone." In 1979, she and Tammy Wynette embarked on a tour of the U.S. and Great Britain. In 1984, Howard released the album Tainted Love, followed by Life of a Country Girl Singer in 1987. The same year, she published her best-selling autobiography Sunshine and Shadow. Howard remarried in 1990 and continued to appear on the Opry. ~ Sandra Brennan