Patty Loveless is undoubtedly one of America’s most popular and timeless female country singers. From the 80’s to now, her soulful, from-the-heart ballads have tugged on the heartstrings of listeners everywhere. The ups and downs in her career were widely influenced by what was going on behind-the-scenes at the time in her personal life.
Loveless was born January 4, 1957 in Pikesville, Kentucky to Naomie and John Ramey. Her father was a coal miner. Her siblings were the first source of inspiration for Loveless’s career, as both her brother Roger and sister Dottie were aspiring country musicians. When her sister Dottie married and quit performing, she took her sisters place as a singer in her brother Rogers band. They called themselves “Singin’ Swingin’ Rameys.”
One evening in Nashville, Roger introduced Patty to big-time country music star Porter Wagoner. At the tender age of 14, she performed her original song “Sounds of Loneliness” for him, and he agreed to take Patty under his wing. After finishing high school in 1973, She replaced Loretta Lynn as lead vocalist for the Wilburn Brothers band. in ’76, she married the band’s drummer, Terry Lovelace (pronounced “Loveless.”) The couple moved to his hometown near Charlotte, NC and began a life in country music together there.
Loveless’s life was marred with hardships. Firstly, her marriage with Lovelace was without her parents consent. Her career in North Carolina saw very little success. She spent her time there performing at small-time bars and waitressing at her mother-in-law’s restaurant. She and Lovelace divorced messily, contributing to her struggles with substance abuse. In 1979 her father passed away from black lung disease.
She returned to Nashville soon after her divorce, and her brother Roger helped her back into the country music scene. After cutting a few new demos, she signed to MCA Records. She released her first single “Lonely Days, Lonely Nights” in 1985, followed by “I Did” in ’86. During her time signed with MCA (1985-1992,) Loveless released 5 albums, toured endlessly and performed on TV frequently. In February of ’89, she married her producer Emory Gordy Jr.
In 1992, she left MCA and signed with Epic Records. It was during her time with Epic that she began experiencing problems with throat pain. Doctors discovered an enlarged blood vessel in her vocal chords, which could have ended her career prematurely had she not treated it immediately. She went through corrective throat surgery, which rendered her unable to speak for 9 months.
Loveless re-entered the world of county music in 1993 on her 36th birthday when she performed at the Grand Ole Opry. Her new deep and full voice enhanced her career from then on, and she continued to record with Epic Records until 2005.
From 2006 to 2007, Loveless took a sabbatical after the loss of her mother and mother-in-law, though she and her husband Gordy performed several times at the Grand Ole Opry.
Today, Loveless is spending time with her husband and family in Though she no longer performs regularly, she still makes occasional appearances on stage.