Born Patty Ramey, January 4, 1957, in Pikeville, KY; daughter of John (a coal miner) and Naomi Ramey; married Terry Lovelace (a drummer), 1976 (divorced, c. 1987); married Emory Gordy, Jr. (a record producer), February, 1989. Addresses: Record company--Epic, P.O. Box 4450, New York, NY 10101-4450.

Dubbed "The Heartbreak Kid" in the headline for an April 1997 article by TV Guide contributor Dan DeLuca, country singer Patty Loveless has certainly earned her title. Her ability to belt out the sentimental lyrics of her songs in a way that stirs and inspires her listeners is rooted in the fact that, because of her life experiences, she has become all too familiar with tragedy and misery. Nevertheless, her hard-luck past has served as her key to a spectacular present and a promising future, as Loveless's songs continue to top the charts, her albums continue to win, and her personal life continues to become richer and fuller. Loveless, named the Academy of Country Music's female vocalist of the year for both 1996 and 1997, told DeLuca: "I think torch songs and heartache songs reach out to people and say, `Hey, this is life and we've got to live, learn from our mistakes, and continue.' That's what I try to put into the songs. That's what I make music for."

Loveless was born on January 4, 1957 in the Appalachian mining town of Pikeville, Kentucky. Her father, John Ramey, was a coal miner who ultimately died in 1979 of the black lung disease that plagues many in his occupation, and her mother, Naomi Ramey, was a homemaker who struggled to care for Loveless and her siblings. Loveless began singing at the age of five, primarily to entertain her parents, but by the age of 12 she was singing in her brother Roger's band. Roger introduced his sister to country music stars Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner in 1971, and Wagoner agreed to give the 14-year-old Loveless a song publishing contract; shortly thereafter the young singer began working with the Wilburn Brothers road show, replacing famous country singer Loretta Lynn, who is Loveless's distant cousin.

It was while working with the road show that Loveless met Wilburn Brothers drummer Terry Lovelace (pronounced "Love-less"). In 1976, despite the disapproval of her family and friends, she married Lovelace and moved to Kings Mountain, North Carolina. In an article by People contributor Steve Dougherty, Loveless said that her marriage at the age of 19 was, in part, a rebellion. "So many people had been making decisions for me for so long," she asserted, "I just wanted to feel a sense of freedom." Unfortunately for the singer, her marriage to Lovelace did not turn out as she had planned. Instead, she began abusing drugs and alcohol and singing cover versions of popular rock songs in Charlotte-area night clubs, in order to support the couple's expensive addictions and to make ends meet. Loveless ultimately overcame her substance abuse, and in 1985, she and Lovelace separated. After changing the spelling of her married name to Loveless, she returned to Nashville to try to rekindle her career as a country singer.

With the help of her brother, Roger, Loveless recorded a demo tape and worked to sell it to record labels; while in the elevator on her way to audition for executives at MCA Records, she met Emory Gordy, Jr.--at the time an MCA producer--who would later become her husband. In 1985 Loveless signed with MCA and soon began to receive positive reviews from music critics and industry insiders who predicted that she would one day be a country music superstar. She and Terry Lovelace were divorced in 1987, and in 1988 Loveless was honored as an inductee of the Grand Ole Opry. Loveless's first number one single came in 1989, with "Timber I'm Falling in Love"; that same year she and Gordy were married and she took home an American Music Award for favorite new country artist. Loveless continued to gain notoriety and became increasingly popular among country music fans; in 1990 she was awarded the Tennessee News Network (TNN) Music City News Country Award. The singer's career was most definitely moving her toward stardom.

Between 1990 and 1993 Loveless's luck changed, and she suffered a series of professional and private setbacks. In 1992, in an attempt to revitalize her career, which was in a slump following the sluggish sales of two of her records, Loveless left MCA Records and fired her brother, Roger Ramey, as her manager, a move which caused a rift in their previously close relationship. Before she was able to begin the work of recording fresh material--with her new label, Epic, and her new producer, Emory Gordy--and getting her career back on track, Loveless encountered another personal obstacle; in the fall of 1992 she began experiencing hoarseness, and soon learned that she had developed an aneurysm on her vocal cords. The situation was grave; in order to repair the aneurysm, which left untreated could have destroyed her voice, Loveless had to undergo risky laser surgery, which also had the potential to damage her voice permanently. The surgery was performed on October 21, 1992. After remaining completely silent during November 1992 and recuperating throughout December 1992, Loveless decided to try out her newly-repaired vocal cords and began recording her sixth album in January 1993. The album was an immediate success when it was released in the spring of 1993, and as People's Steve Dougherty termed it, "it was clear that Loveless' luck had turned."

Unfortunately, despite the promise with which 1993 had begun, Loveless was to suffer yet another personal challenge. In June 1993 a tabloid article with the headline "Patty Loveless Killed Our Baby!" was published. The story, which quoted as its source Loveless's ex-husband Terry Lovelace, revealed that the singer had had an abortion in 1980. Previously no one had known about the terminated pregnancy, and the singer was devastated to have her private misery made public in such a merciless and tasteless manner. In the People article by Dougherty Loveless discusses the reasons behind her decision to end her pregnancy, indicating that she was frightened that her excessive drug and alcohol consumption during the pregnancy would have produced birth defects or other health traumas for the fetus, and declaring that "{t}he abortion was a decision Terry and I both made. We swore we would never tell because of the pain it would cause our families." Asserting her belief that her ex-husband was attempting to jeopardize her career out of bitterness, Loveless told Dougherty, "I wish {Lovelace} could just get on. I hope that people will understand and that I'll be forgiven." Lovelace has maintained that he was duped into revealing the secret to the press and never intended to subject Loveless to such public embarrassment.

Loveless managed to overcome her personal crises--even reconciling with her brother Roger--and used her familiarity with tragedy to her advantage, producing emotionally powerful songs that touched the hearts of fans and music experts alike. Matraca Berg, a songwriter who penned Loveless's 1990 hit single "That Kind of Girl" and 1996's "You Can Feel Bad," maintained in an article by TV Guide's Dan DeLuca that Loveless has "a lot of class and she's no puppy. She's lived, and she sings like she believes every word of it. And that's a rare gift." The music industry has continued to bestow upon Loveless some of its highest honors, including making her the first woman ever to win a Country Music Association (CMA) Award for best album, which she won in 1995 for her album, When Fallen Angels Fly. In 1996 Loveless was named female vocalist of the year by both the CMA and the Academy of Country Music (ACM), and in 1997, she repeated as the ACM's female vocalist and was nominated for the CMA's award as well.

Loveless's vocal ability, which DeLuca called "a gutbucket emotionalism that places her squarely in the sisterhood of soul," has been applauded by critics since the release of her debut album, Patty Loveless, in 1985. The praise continued for her 1988 effort, If My Heart Had Windows and for Honky Tonk Angel, released that same year and containing the number-one single "Timber I'm Falling in Love." Although critics lauded her 1990 album On down the Line-- People's Ralph Novak declared that it represented "just plain quality country singing"--as well as 1991's Up Against My Heart, neither of the albums managed to reach the level of commercial success Loveless had attained with her previous albums.

However, with the 1993 release of Only What I Feel, Loveless again joined the ranks of the critically acclaimed and popularly successful country music stars. Recorded after her encounter with laser surgery, the album was hailed by critics as irrefutable evidence that Loveless's voice had come through her ordeal intact. Billboard's Peter Cronin declared that on the album Loveless was "singing with more range, more control, more conviction than ever before, effectively combining powerful delivery with fragile emotion." Entertainment Weekly contributor Alanna Nash noted the "restored power and character shadings of Loveless' authentically rural voice," and People's Hal Espen characterized Loveless's vocals as "equal parts Linda Ronstadt and Pasty Cline," referring to her ability to combine elements of traditional country and rock music. The album quickly produced a number-one hit with "Blame It on Your Heart," an up-tempo tune in which Loveless tells her philandering lover that he is responsible for the breakup of their relationship, urging him to "blame it on your lyin', cheatin', cold-dead beatin', two-timin', double-dealin', mean-mistreatin', lovin' heart." Only What I Feel also contained the single "How Do I Help You Say Goodbye," a poignant, moving ballad in which Loveless portrays a mother who is attempting to help her child cope first with the loss of a childhood friend, then with the ordeal of a divorce, and finally with the death of the mother herself. That single helped bring Only What I Feel out of the sales slump it had entered following the early success of "Blame It on Your Heart," and quickly became a favorite of fans, who expressed how to Loveless the many ways in which the song had touched their hearts. Loveless told Entertainment Weekly's Alanna Nash: "I hope it makes people think.... And to look at death as a long goodbye, and not necessarily something final." The song, backed by the strength of the album on which it appeared, earned Loveless three 1994 CMA Award nominations for song of the year, album of the year, and female vocalist of the year.

Loveless followed up the success of Only What I Feel with her 1994 album, When Fallen Angels Fly, which, she told Morris, she wanted "to be one of those that when people listen to it, it gives them some release and hope and encourages them not to give up." The album garnered both critical and popular success, and the single "You Don't Even Know Who I Am" earned Loveless 1996 Grammy Award nominations for best female country vocal performance and best country song. In his review of the album, Entertainment Weekly's Bob Cannon called Loveless's performance "emotionally gripping," and People's Craig Tomashoff offered praise for Loveless's "conversational" tone, contending that "listening to {When Fallen Angels Fly} is like chatting with a close friend." Loveless's efforts on When Fallen Angels Fly were rewarded in 1995 when she became the first woman artist to win the CMA's Award for album of the year.

The Trouble with the Truth, Loveless's 1996 album that People contributor Craig Tomashoff asserted "builds a bridge" between country, rock, and pop music, was also a critical and popular success, earning Loveless a 1997 Grammy Award nomination for best country album. The album contains the singles "You Can Feel Bad," in which a woman tells her ex-lover that she has successfully gone on with her life after their breakup, and "A Thousand Times a Day," which critics praised for its powerful vocals; People's Tomashoff called Loveless's singing "warm and inviting" and Entertainment Weekly's Nash asserted that Loveless "uses her backwoods soprano-- as rural and unassuming as a mountain brook--to best effect" on this song. The album's title song proclaims that the truth has "ruined the taste of the sweetest lies, / Burned through my best alibis," and as Time critic Richard Corliss contended: "The way Loveless sings it, the truth ain't pretty, but it sounds as golden as the Gospel."

According to critics, Loveless's 1997 effort, Long Stretch of Lonesome, lived up to the high expectations that followed the singer's 1996 CMA and ACM Awards for best female vocalist as well as her 1997 ACM Award for best female vocalist and her 1997 nomination for the CMA's best female vocalist honors. Jeremy Helligar, writing in Entertainment Weekly, observed that "Loveless' Appalachian blues sound torchy with hardly a hint of twang," and People's Tomashoff lauded the singer's "silky voice," concluding that "Loveless' words may tell you how tough life can be, but her voice lets you know that things will work out anyway." Interviewed by TV Guide's DeLuca while working on her ninth album, Loveless maintained that she was determined not to let her fame weaken her commitment her singing. Loveless told DeLuca: "I like to keep focused on the work. I'm just looking for songs that stir emotions in me. Because if it moves me, then somebody else is going to be stirred in the same way."

by Lynn M. Spampinato

Patty Loveless's Career

Country singer and songwriter, c. 1970--. Singer with brother Roger Ramey's country music band, c. 1970-72; secured a song-publishing contract, c. 1972; worked as the "girl singer" in the Wilburn Brothers road show, c. 1972-76; worked as a singer in night clubs in and near Charlotte, NC, c. 1976-85; moved to Nashville, TN, recorded demo tape with help of Roger Ramey, c. 1985; began recording artist with MCA, 1985-92; recording artist with Sony Music, 1992--.

Patty Loveless's Awards

Inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, 1988; American Music Award, favorite new country artist, 1989; TNN Music City News Country Award, female artist, 1990; Country Music Association Award, album of the year, 1995, for When Fallen Angels Fly, and female vocalist of the year, 1996; Academy of Country Music Awards, both female vocalist of the year, 1996 and 1997.

Famous Works

Recent Updates

September 13, 2005: Loveless' album, Dreaming My Dreams, was released. Source: All Music Guide, www.allmusic.com, September 16, 2005

Further Reading

Periodicals

Visitor Comments Add a comment…

about 3 years ago

This needs a major update. Patty hasnt been with Epic in years. She's with Saguaro Road Records, and has released two records since the most recent update on here. She also just won a Grammy and was inducted in the kentucky music hall of fame.

about 5 years ago

It was while working with the road show that Loveless met Wilburn Brothers drummer Terry Lovelace (pronounced "Love-less") Its pronounced Love-LACE... thats my uncle. i should know