Four-year-old Jeannie Seely was barely tall enough to turn the knob and not really able to see the numbers on her family's big console radio. But when she found 650 (WSM) on the dial, that's where the indicator stayed, her mother recalls.
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Jeannie, who was born in Titusville and raised in Townville, Pennsylvania, even remembers sitting in the family's Ford, eating popcorn and listening to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights while her parents played cards at friends' houses.
By age 11, she was performing on a weekly show on a radio station in Meadville, Pennsylvania. Years of playing auditoriums, small clubs and country music parks followed a two-year stint as a disc jockey on her own Armed Forces Network Show. After working executive secretarial positions with Liberty and Imperial Records in Hollywood, Jeannie moved to Nashville in 1965.
A recording contract with Monument Records led to her first hit record entitled "Don't Touch Me" in 1966. The single went No. 1, won her the 1966 Grammy Award for the Best Female Vocal Performance Country and led to Opry membership in 1967.
Other hits-including "Can I Sleep In Your Arms," "Lucky Ladies," "Little Things," "Tell Me Again," "I'll Love You More" and "Please Be My New Love"-enabled her to tour throughout the world and appear on several television shows earning her the nickname of "Miss Country Soul."
For 11 years she toured and sang with fellow Opry member Jack Greene. The popular duet team performed everywhere from New York's Madison Square Garden to London's International Country Music Festival. The two also enjoyed consistent Top 10 duet hits, including the No. 1 "Wish I Didn't Have To Miss You," "What In The World Has Gone Wrong With Our Love," "Much Oblige" and "You And Me Against The World."
When she wasn't writing hit songs for herself, Jeannie was penning hits for other artists such as Dottie West, Connie Smith, Faron Young, Willie Nelson and Ray Price.
A near fatal automobile accident in 1977 did not slow her down. In recent years the singer, songwriter and record producer has added stage actress and author to her list of accomplishments. In 1988 Jeannie released her self-published book Pieces of a Puzzled Mind which now is in its second printing.
That same year she starred as Miss Mona in the Circle Players' production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at the Tennessee Performing Art Center in Nashville. In 1990, although she cracked two ribs in rehearsal, she performed her first straight comedy role in a Nashville area dinner theater's production of Everybody Loves Opal.
When she isn't touring around the world, fans will find her performing regularly on the Grand Ole Opry on WSM Radio-still at 650, Jeannie's favorite spot on the dial.
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