Born Lula Grace Johnson, Jan Howard’s discovery as a country music singer was quite accidental. Her then husband and songwriter Harlan Howard heard her singing while washing dishes in the kitchen one night. He then thought she has talent and potential of becoming a star in the music industry. With her husband’s persuasion, Howard began singing demos for other country artists, including Buck Owens, Tex Ritter, and Patsy Cline, to name a few. As a matter of fact, she performed the original demo for “I Fall to Pieces”, Patsy Cline’s first number one hit.
In 1960, Howard released her first single “The One You Slip Around With” under Challenge, her new record company. Her record peaked at number 13 on the Billboard country music chart, making it her first significant country hit. Additionally, the song earned her several Most Promising Female Vocalist awards. Following her appearance on ABC-TV’s Jubilee USA on February 6, 1960, Howard won the Most Promising Female Country Award conferred by Billboard magazine.
A decade later, Howard released a duet record with Bill Anderson entitled “If It’s All the Same to You”. The song reached No. 2 on the country chart in 1970. Two more singles from their collaborative album Bill and Jan or Jan and Bill entered the top 10 country singles chart. The pair duet was nominated for CMA Awards’ Vocal Duo of the Year for two consecutive years (1970 – 1971). From 1967 – 1972, Howard released numerous solo top 40 hits including “Roll Over and Play Dead” (1967), “Any Old Way You Do” (1967), and “I Still Believe in Love” (1968). The following year was much brighter for Howard’s career as two of her hits reached the top 20: “My Son” and “We Had All the Good Things Going”.
Other Highlights of Her Career
From being a demo singer to recording solo and duet hits, Howard has also written several songs covered by other artists. As an accomplished songwriter, she wrote: “It’s All Over But the Crying” popularized by Kitty Wells in 1966. Another hit she’s written was Bill Anderson’s “Love is a Sometimes Thing”.
Howard has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since March 27, 1971. Prior to this, the singer had occasional appearances on the weekly concert which led to friendships with several country singers. The singer was then inducted into the Missouri Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005. And just last year, Howard appeared on Jeannie Seely’s album Written In Song, alongside Jessi Colter.
Her Biggest Solo Hit
“Evil on Your Mind” was a popular country music song in 1966. The track was written by Jan Howard’s husband at that time, Harlan Howard. Instantly, the release peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Country music chart.
The tune, in its apparent sense, talks about the narrator’s thoughts towards his husband’s hidden agenda. The man tried to convince his wife to visit her sister out west. While that may seem an act of thoughtfulness, she suspected something was wrong. Her husband was just trying to hide his plan of having an affair. She calls it “evil on your mind”.