Jeannie Seely

Jeannie Seely will receive a big honor this month.

Seely, who was born in Titusville before she was raised on a farm near Townville, will receive the honorary doctor of arts degree from Memorial University in Tennessee.

The award will happen during the university's fall commencement exercises on Dec. 14.

LMU honors her with its most prestigious recognition for her many groundbreaking accomplishments in the music industry, as well as her support and encouragement of new talent. She joins a small but distinguished group of musicians who have been honored by LMU. This includes legendary bluegrass pioneer Ralph Stanley.

“Jeannie Seely is a true trailblazer in country music," said Clayton Hess, LMU president. "LMU is eager to honor her not only for her accomplished music career but also for the tremendous mentorship she has shared with up and coming talent throughout her 52 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

"She has used her voice and the stage at the Opry to entertain and enrich lives. LMU is fortunate that she has used that platform to recognize her husband’s, Gene Ward, alma mater several times. Both Gene and Jeannie are great ambassadors for LMU and now we can proudly call Jeannie an official Railsplitter.”

When Seely was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1967, she became the first Pennsylvania native to join the world-famous institution.

Along with many accolades including awards from Billboard, Cashbox and Record World, she has achieved No. 1 songs as a solo artist, duet partner and songwriter. In 1966, Seely won a Grammy award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her recording of “Don’t Touch Me.”

Early in her career, she was dubbed “Miss Country Soul” for her deeply moving vocals, and the moniker has remained throughout her career. Known as an individualist her entire career, she became the first female to regularly host segments of the weekly Opry shows.

Seely is featured in Ken Burns’ PBS documentary “Country Music,” which was released earlier this year. She was noted as one of the premier female singers of the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

She continues to record, perform and write in Nashville. “Like I Could,” which she co-wrote with Erin Enderlin and Bobby Tomberlin, was a recent No. 1 on the Bluegrass charts, recorded by Rhonda Vincent.

She plans to release a new album, “An American Classic,” on Curb Records produced by Don Cusic in 2020, continues to host her weekly “Sundays with Seely” on Willie’s Roadhouse on SiriusXM and proudly hosts Opry segments and performs each week as well as tour nationally.

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