The Anita Kerr Singers

From Nashville...The Hit Sound

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The light and amiable voices of the chorus led by Anita Kerr (aka the Anita Kerr Singers) were among the most recognizable sounds in the Nashville music scene of the 1950s and '60s. In addition to being heard on platters by Red Foley, Jim Reeves, Perry Como, Floyd Cramer, Eddy Arnold, Hank Snow, and even Roy Orbison, the Anita Kerr Singers produced several long-players containing their own versions of concurrent crossover country and pop singles, and perhaps unwittingly helped to create a distinct MOR presence known as the Nashville sound. After recording for Decca throughout the '50s, Chet Atkins -- then head of RCA Victor's country division -- hired Kerr in 1961 as an A&R assistant for the label. This led to a deal as an artist, and 1962's From Nashville...The Hit Sound became her debut disc during a four-year association with RCA Victor. Although seemingly simplistic, one of her strengths was an ability to arrange established Nashville tunes for an MOR audience that may not have responded as favorably to the distinctly rural-flavored originals. A few of the more successful interpretations are of Floyd Cramer's "Last Date," which has been given lyrics and bears the parenthetical "With You" in the title, while "Night Train to Memphis" had been a hit for her former employer, Red Foley. Carl Smith had significant success with "Hey Joe," and "Oh, Lonesome Me" was one of Don Gibson's signature songs. Granted, modern ears will undoubtedly find the lot hopelessly dated if not an ersatz throwback to the kind of fluff that rock & roll was created to destroy. However, those who enjoy that sort of Art Deco-meets-Hee Haw journey through the past should note that in 2004 Collectors' Choice Music reissued From Nashville...The Hit Sound on CD.

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