Long time Nashville session artist and Grammy Award winning singer Anita Kerr died October 10, 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland just three days before her 95th birthday.
Kerr was a part of the Anita Kerr Singers – a group who could be hear singing on numerous recordings for Nashville artists during the 50’s and 60’s. Along with Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley, Kerr helped to develop what became known as the Nashville sound – a sound that used choral singers, strings, and orchestral arrangements.
Along with Atkins, Kerr also worked with Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, Ernest Tubb, Jim Reeves, Red Foley, Roy Orbison, Bobby Bare, Rod McKeun, and Arthur Godfrey.
CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame spoke on Kerr saying, “Anita Kerr helped Nashville achieve world-class stature as a music center through her roles as a gifted arranger, producer and leader of the lush vocal quartet the Anita Kerr Singers. Her voice and her creativity expanded the artistic and commercial possibilities for country music.”
Anita Jean Grilli was born On October 13, 1927 im Memphis, Tennessee.
She moved to Nashville with her DJ husband Al Kerr where she formed a singing quartet with Dottie Dillard, Gil Wright and Louis Nunley. The foursome went on to be one of the most in demand backup groups in Nashville.
Kerr and her Anita Kerr singers can be heard on “Only the Lonely” by Roy Orbison, “Detroit City” by Bobby Bare, and “Rockin’ Round the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee.
Kerr was reported to be a master at creating musical arrangements; especially on the spot, during recording sessions.
Tired of not getting credit for her work, Kerr left Nashville and headed for California where she continued to sing, arrange, and compose in a variety of genres including pop, Latin, gospel, country, and film scores. The Anita Kerr Singers went on to win three Grammy Awards.
She later moved to Montreux and opened a recording studio with her second husband Alex Grob. Queen later took over the ownership of the studio and used it to record a number of their albums.
She is survived by her husband Alex and daughter.
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