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Country singer Kitty Wells dies at 92

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Singer Kitty Wells, whose hits such as "Making Believe" and "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" made her the first female superstar of country music, died Monday. She was 92.

The singer's family said she died peacefully at home after complications from a stroke.

She was born Ellen Muriel Deason in Nashville, the daughter of a railroad brakeman. She began playing the guitar at age 14 and soon was performing at dances in the Nashville area.

Wells married Johnny Wright, half of a duo called Johnny and Jack, in 1938 when she was not yet 20, and soon began touring with the duo. She took her stage name from an old folk song, "Sweet Kitty Wells."

Her solo recording career lasted from 1952 to the late 1970s and she made concert tours from the late 1930s until 2000.

Her "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" in 1952 was the first No. 1 hit by a woman soloist on the country music charts and dashed the notion that women couldn't be headliners. She recorded approximately 50 albums, had 25 Top 10 country hits and went around the world several times. From 1953 to 1968, various polls listed Wells as the No. 1 female country singer. Tammy Wynette finally dethroned her.

She was known as gracious, elegant and family-oriented.

"What I've done has been satisfying," she said in the 1986 AP interview. "I wouldn't change a thing."

Son Bobby Wright, one of her three children, played a countrified sailor on the TV show "McHale's Navy" from 1962 to 1966.

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