Jeannie C. Riley is a country music and gospel singer with a forceful, husky voice who became famous during the late 1960s-early 1970s. She is best known for the sassy, funny, and in-your-face 1968 smash hit, "Harper Valley P.T.A.," now considered to be a country classic.
Born Jeanne Carolyn Stephenson in Stamford, Texas and raised in nearby Anson, she married childhood sweetheart Mickey Riley in her teens, and the family later moved to Nashville where she worked as a secretary for Passkey Music while recording demos on the side. In 1967, her manager introduced her to producer Shelby Singleton who, at the time, was starting his own label, Plantation Records. Her first major career breakthrough came when Singleton arranged to have her record the Tom T. Hall-penned "Harper Valley P.T.A." Upon its release in 1968, this song became Riley's first hit, and it soon reached #1 on both the Pop/Rock and Country charts, making both her and the song an overnight sensation.
"Harper Valley P.T.A." earned Riley a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and the Country Music Association "Single Of The Year" award. The song went Gold just four weeks after its release and also became an international hit. With "Harper Valley P.T.A.," Riley became the first female performer to top both the Billboard Country and Hot 100 charts simultaneously with the same song. She also made country music history in 1969 as the first female vocalist to have her own major network variety special, "Harper Valley U.S.A.," which she hosted with Jerry Reed. Ten years later, "Harper Valley PTA" inspired a movie of the same name starring Barbara Eden which was followed with a 1981-1983 TV series.
After the success of "Harper Valley P.T.A.," Riley hits continued on the Country charts through 1976, with many crossing over to the Pop/Rock charts. These included "The Girl Most Likely" (1968), "There Never Was A Time" (1969), "Country Girl" (1970), "Good Enough To Be Your Wife" (1971), and "Oh, Singer" (1971). By the mid 1970s, Riley became a born-again Christian and turned her attention increasingly to gospel music. In 1980, she published an autobiography, "From Harper Valley To The Mountain Top," and released a gospel album of the same title the following year. She continued to be a popular contemporary Christian recording and performing artist throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
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Jeannie C. Riley
- Harper Valley P.T.A. 1968
("Harper Valley P.T.A." song topped both the Country and Pop/Rock charts for Jeannie C. Riley in 1968, making her the first woman to top both charts with the same song. This song also became a hit for Ben Colder (1968) and King Curtis (1968).)
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