Along with many accolades including awards from Billboard, Cashbox and Record World, country music legend Jeannie Seely has achieved No. 1 songs as a solo artist, duet partner and songwriter. Early in her career, Jeannie’s deeply moving vocals aptly earned her the nickname of “Miss Country Soul”. Jeannie’s recording of “Don’t Touch Me” not only topped the country music charts, but also earned her a Grammy Award for the “Best Country Vocal Performance by a Female”. It is ranked at No. 97 in the book Country Music’s 500 Greatest Singles published by the Country Music Foundation, and it’s also included in The Stories Behind Country Music’s All-Time Greatest 100 Songs.
Born in Titusville, Pennsylvania, and raised on a farm outside of nearby Townville, Jeannie was singing on Meadville radio station WMGW at age 11. By 16 she was performing on TV station WICU in Erie. When she moved to Nashville upon the encouragement of friend Dottie West, Jeannie only had $50 and a Ford Falcon to her name, but within a month Porter Wagoner hired her as the female singer for his road and television series.
On September 16, 1967, Jeannie’s biggest dream came true when she became the first Pennsylvania native to become a member of the world famous Grand Ole Opry. Jeannie subsequently became the first female to regularly host segments of the weekly Opry shows. She’s also credited for wearing the first mini-skirt on the Opry stage, as well as for changing the image of female country performers.
A BMI-awarded songwriter, Jeannie’s songs have been recorded by Country Music Hall of Fame members Faron Young, Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Ernest Tubb and Little Jimmy Dickens, as well as by many other artists including Norma Jean, Doyle Lawson, Lorrie Morgan, Connie Smith, Irma Thomas, Dottie West and Tex Williams.
With Opry member Jack Greene, Jeannie recorded the hit “Wish I Didn’t Have To Miss You” which began a series of successful duet recordings – and launched one of the most popular road shows in country music history. For over a decade, Jack and Jeannie toured and performed together at venues that included New York’s Madison Square Garden and London’s Wembley Arena.
Along with placing records on the Billboard country singles chart for 13 consecutive years, Jeannie also served as a radio disc jockey on her own Armed Forces Network Show, traveled on military tours throughout Europe and Asia, made numerous appearances on national television shows, published her own book of witticisms titled Pieces of a Puzzled Mind and starred in several major stage productions including Always, Patsy Cline and The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. Jeannie also appeared in Willie Nelson’s Honeysuckle Rose movie and sang on the platinum soundtrack album.
Jeannie has been known throughout her career as an individualist, as well as for her infectious humor. Despite personal and career setbacks that range from a 1977 near-fatal auto accident to a devastating flood in 2010 in which she lost her home, car and personal belongings, Jeannie Seely has remained a survivor with her sense of humor intact.
From her 1966 Top 10 Billboard album The Seely Style to her 2011 self-produced CD Vintage Country, Jeannie’s recordings have spanned six decades and provided enjoyment to country music fans all around the world.
In his book Finding Her Voice: Women In Country Music, music critic Robert K. Oermann writes, "With her chin-out, tough/tender, heart-of-gold manner, Jeannie Seely remains one of country's most completely modern female personalities.”