Thursday, December 19, 2013

December 19: '80s Country music star, Janie Fricke is 66-years-old today.

Born in South Whitley, Indiana, Janie Fricke was one of the most popular female country singers of the '80s, racking a string of hits with a unique flair for heart-wrenching ballads. She won the Country Music Association's "Female Vocalist of the Year" awards in 1982 and 1983.
Fricke learned to play piano and guitar as a child. She has said her biggest influences were Joan Baez and Judy Collins.

 Despite growing up in a musical family and spending much of her childhood singing at home, school, and church, a singing career was not something she wanted early on.  While studying for her bachelor's degree in elementary education at Indiana University, she kept active musically. Only when Fricke started earning extra money by singing commercial jingles that she began to see that music could actually earn her a living.

In 1975, Fricke moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where she became an in-demand background vocalist for other Country music singers at the time, including Crystal Gayle, Ronnie Milsap, Tanya Tucker, Conway Twitty, and Eddie Rabbitt; her work as background vocalist on several recordings by Johnny Duncan first brought Fricke to national attention.

After supplying background vocals for such Duncan hits as "Jo and the Cowboy," "Thinkin' of a Rendezvous," "It Couldn't Have Been Any Better," and "Stranger," she was finally rewarded when she was given equal billing with Duncan on a single entitled "Come a Little Bit Closer." It was likely her contribution to Duncan's number one hit "Stranger" in 1977 that generated the most interest.

In that song, Fricke sang the line, "Shut out the light and lead me....." People soon began to speculate who was the mysterious singer singing those words in Duncan's song. Because of this, in 1977, Fricke was able to gain a recording contract of her own from Columbia Records, where she remained for over ten years.

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Between 1977 and 1979, Janie released three studio albums, including her debut album, Singer of Songs. Fricke's 1977 debut single, "What're You Doing Tonight," just missed the Top 20. Collaborations with Charlie Rich (the number one hit "On My Knees") and Duncan (the Top Five "Come a Little Bit Closer") kept Fricke going strong through 1978, but her solo singles over the next couple of years did not do well.

She did have two Top 20 hits between 1978 and 1979, "Please Help Me I'm Falling (In Love With You),"  which reached #12 and "I'll Love Away Your Troubles for Awhile,"  which peaked at #14. Most of her other singles between 1978 and 1981 did not chart very high.

In 1979 Fricke released her second and third studio albums, Love Notes and From the Heart. Only Love Notes produced one Top 20 hit, but none of her albums up until then charted on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart.

In late 1980, Fricke's producer, Billy Sherrill recommended she focus on one style, and Fricke began to record ballads. As a result, Fricke had a breakout year in 1981, when she landed two Top Five hits with "Down to My Last Broken Heart" and "I'll Need Someone to Hold Me (When I Cry)."
Between 1982-1984, she scored six number one hits — "Don't Worry 'Bout Me Baby," "It Ain't Easy Bein' Easy,"  "Tell Me a Lie," "He's a Heartache," Let's Stop Talkin' About It," and "Your Heart's Not In It." All of Fricke's #1s were spawned from her 1982 album, It Ain't Easy which became a successful-selling album. In 1983, Fricke toured with country band Alabama.
By this time, she'd broadened her style to include more up-tempo tracks as well. In 1982 and 1983, Fricke was awarded "Female Vocalist of the Year" from the Country Music Association.

In 1983, Fricke also released her next studio album, Love Lies, which peaked at #10 on the Top Country Albums chart. The album spawned a #1 single, "Let's Stop Talkin' About It" and a Top 10, "If the Fall Don't Get You."  In 1984, Fricke released her next album, First Word in Memory. The lead single, "Your Heart's Not In It" was a #1 hit in 1984, followed by the title track, which became a Top 10 hit the same year.

Her 1985 album, Somebody Else's Fire peaked at #21 on the Top Country Albums chart, and yielded three top ten hits.

Fricke was featured on Merle Haggard's 1985 single, "A Place to Fall Apart" which became a #1 hit. In 1986, Fricke released her next album, Black & White. The album included her last #1 hit, "Always Have, Always Will,"  as well as her last Top 20 hit, "When a Woman Cries,"  which peaked at #20 in 1986.

By 1987, the Country-pop styled music Fricke had been recording since the early part of the decade was no longer in style on Country radio. Fricke's success began to decline. She did record a Top 25 hit with Larry Gatlin called "From Time to Time (It Sure Feels Like Love Again),"  released on Gatlin's 1987 Partners album.

Janie continues to record and tour and stay active in the Country music industry. In 2004, Fricke released a Bluegrass album The Bluegrass Sessions. The tracks from the album were Fricke's previously-recorded Country hits recorded in Bluegrass style for the album.


For more about Janie visit her Website at -


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