Jan Howard, Country Singer and Longtime Grand Ole Opry Member, Dies at 91

Jan Howard
GAB Archive/Redferns

Jan Howard

Jan Howard, country singer and songwriter and longtime member of the Grand Ole Opry, died on Saturday (March 28) in Gallatin, Tenn., at the age of 91.

Howard, born Lula Grace Johnson, began her career in music by singing on demos written by then-husband Harlan Howard that were recorded by Nashville acts like Kitty Wells and Charlie Walker, and had her first own country hit with "The One You Slip Around With" in 1960.

Other notable singles she released as a solo artist -- which made Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart -- included "Evil on Your Mind" (1966), "Bad Seed" (1966) and "My Son" (1968), an emotional track written for one of her sons, Jimmy, who was soon after killed in action in Vietnam. She received Grammy nominations for both "Evil on Your Mind" and"My Son."

Howard also recorded several songs as Bill Anderson's duet partner, such as their 1967 hit "For Loving You," and joined him on tour and on his syndicated television show.

As a songwriter, she penned songs for her own albums and worked on tracks for other artists, including Kitty Wells (1966's "It's All Over But the Crying"), Bill Anderson (1970's "Love Is a Sometimes Thing") and Connie Smith (1970's "I Never Once Stopped Loving You," which she co-wrote with Anderson).

Howard was inducted into the Opry in March of 1971, making her a member for 49 years before her death.

"Jan Howard was a force of nature in country music, at the Opry, and in life," said Dan Rogers, Grand Ole Opry vice president and executive producer. "We were all so lucky so many nights to hear her voice on stage and to catch up with her backstage. We’re all better for having had her in our lives."

She is survived by one of her three sons, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Graveside services will be private, but a celebration of life service will be scheduled for a later date. Howard's family says donations may be made to Overwatch Alliance Veterans Foundation (1000 North Chase Drive, Goodlettsville, TN, 37072) in lieu of flowers.