Honky Tonk Angel
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 13 - Jul.. 2002
HTA (Kitty Wells)
As sung by Kitty Wells, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" caused a Country Music revolution in 1952. The song became the first in the genre by a woman to sell a million copies and reach Number One on country charts, opened the doors wide for women in country, and launched Kitty Wells as the "Queen of Country Music." To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this landmark record, and the careers of Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright, her partner in music and life, Martin is proud to introduce the HTA Honky Tonk Angel Signature Edition guitar.
The HTA Signature Edition blends distinctive design, unique appointments and timeless Martin quality. The body marries traditional Dreadnought contours with more slender 000 depth for powerful, balanced tone and uncommon player comfort in a big guitar. A modified low oval 1 11/16" neck adds to the comfort quotient for smaller players. The polished black ebony headstock overlay features a stunning art nouveau "honky tonk" angel inlaid in green ripple abalone pearl. The headstock art is complemented by an abalone crown bordered in Mother Of Pearl at the 5th fret - to honor the "Queen of Country Music" - amid Style 45 "diamond and squares" fingerboard inlays, Schaller tuners with pearloid buttons, and an abalone pearl Style 45 rosette.
The HTA Signature Edition's solid tonewoods are selected to optimize the instrument's distinctive voice. Martin craftspeople utilize East Indian rosewood for the two-piece back and sides for rich resonance. The top of Engelmann spruce adds string-to-string clarity and impressive responsiveness, elements enhanced by Martin's scalloped "Hybrid" X bracing.
Vintage toner on the top accentuates the fine pattern herringbone purfling, grained ivoroid binding, and beveled and polished tortoise-colored pickguard. Grained ivoroid back binding surrounds black/white purfling, while the matching end piece is framed by black/white/black inlay. The beauty of the HTA Signature Edition is heightened by the finish: polished gloss on the body and headplate and satin lacquer on the neck.
Born Muriel Ellen Deason in Nashville, Tennessee, Kitty Wells became a professional musician in 1935, singing with two sisters and a cousin as the Deason Sisters. At age 18, she married Johnny Wright, and the two joined forces to become country music stars. Taking the name Kitty Wells in 1943, she sang backup with several of her husband's groups, most notably Johnny and Jack, a pairing with Jack Anglin that became one of the most popular country duos of the 1940s and 1950s. She also recorded on her own in the late 1940s and appeared on the Grand Ole Opry.
In 1952, Hank Thompson had a big country hit with "The Wild Side of Life," and Wells was asked by her record label to record a woman's answer, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels." The resulting record quickly topped the charts, and Wells became an overnight country music sensation. She went on to record 24 Top Ten country hits in the 1950s, including "One by One" with Red Foley, "Lonely Side of Town" and "Three Ways to Love You." In the 1960s, she had 11 more Top Ten hits. She also recorded several duets with her husband, and in 1969 the couple launched The Kitty Wells/Johnny Wright Family Show on television, a program that lasted several seasons.
While the hits slowed in the 1970s and 1980s, Kitty didn't. She toured in the United States and Great Britain, joined her husband in establishing Ruboca Records and opened a gift shop in Nashville. For her own accomplishments, and for blazing the way for women in country music, Kitty was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1976 and received a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1991. After more than 60 years of marriage, Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright remain one of music's great love stories.
Delivered in a hardshell case, each Martin HTA Honky Tonk Angel Signature Edition will bear an interior label signed by Kitty Wells, Johnny Wright and Martin Chairman and CEO C.F. Martin IV, and numbered in sequence with the edition total. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each HTA model will be donated in support of MusiCares, which was established by the Recording Academy in 1989. The mission of MusiCares is to ensure that music people have a place to turn in times of need, focusing the resources of the music industry on human service issues which directly impact the health and welfare of the music community.
Martin will accept orders for the HTA Honky Tonk Angel Signature Edition until September 18, 2002. After the ordering period concludes, the size of the edition and the names of participating dealers will be posted on the web at: www.martinguitar.com.