|Birth name||Betty Lou Miller|
|Also known as||The Tennessee Yodeler|
|Born||April 9, 1942|
|Origin||Dayton, Ohio, U.S.|
|Instruments||Vocals, Guitar, Piano|
|Labels||20th Century Records
Warner Bros. Records
|Associated acts||Rex Allen Jr., Dottie West, Billie Jo Spears|
|Website||Margo Smith Official Site|
Margo Smith (born Betty Lou Miller April 9, 1942 in Dayton, Ohio) is an American country music singer. In the 1970s, she was a popular female country vocalist, acquiring two No. 1 hits on the country charts during that time, "Don't Break the Heart That Loves You" and "It Only Hurts for a Little While", both country music remakes of previous pop music standards. She is also considered a "world class yodeler".
However, in the late '70s, after releasing 1979's A Woman album, Smith's image underwent a metamorphosis, wearing much riskier clothing, and recording much riskier material, like 1979's top 10 country hit, "Still a Woman".
Early life & rise to fame
Margo Smith was born Betty Lou Miller in 1942 in Dayton, Ohio. Smith had been singing since childhood, but decided to pursue a career in kindergarten teaching instead, graduating from Wittenberg University. Since childhood, Margo Smith learned how to yodel. She soon found work as a kindergarten teacher, but always aspired to make it big in Nashville. During this period, Smith would write songs that she would use frequently in her lesson plans during the day at school. She soon began singing at PTA meetings, and began singing her songs on the radio. She developed a following wherever she went. She soon cut a demo for various record companies. One record company noticed Smith's voice (20th Century Records) and liked what they heard. They soon signed Smith to their label in 1975. She soon began recording for the label in Nashville, Tennessee.
The height of her career in the '70s & '80s
Early music success: Good girl image
One of her first recordings under 20th Century Records was the song "There I Said It". The song was released as a single in 1975, and debuted on her first album, simply entitled Margo Smith. "There I Said It" became a top ten country hit for Smith that year, and tuned Smith into a country success overnight. Her follow-up single to her big hit was the song "Paper Lovin'". Although not as successful as "There I Said It", it still made the country top 30, giving her a minor hit that year. In 1976, Smith had to switch record companies, as 20th Century Records shut down its division in Nashville, Tennessee. She soon moved over to Warner Bros. Records that same year.
She soon began cutting recordings for Warner Bros. and worked with producer Norro Wilson. She had more success under her new record company with hits like "Save Your Kisses for Me" and "Take My Breath Away", which were both Top 10 hits in 1976, proving that Smith could continue to have hits, even if she switched record companies. In 1977 she had a Top 15 hit with "Love's Explosion".
Smith kept her image as the girl next door and a good Christian girl. In 1978, she had her biggest success when two of her singles went to No. 1, first starting with "Don't Break the Heart That Loves You" (a No. 1 pop hit for Connie Francis in 1962) and then followed by "It Only Hurts For a Little While" (originally by the Ames Brothers in 1956). These two songs were her only chart toppers. She had another hit in 1978, that reached the top 5 called "Little Things Mean a Lot", which previously had been No. 1 pop hit by Kitty Kallen in 1954.
Later music success: Risque image
The year 1979 was a great change for Smith. This was the year Smith turned her image completely around and emerged into the country spotlight with a new image. However, she wasn't the only female country singer doing this. Country singer Dottie West, who had been around since the 1960s, also changed her image to a more sexy image. In 1979, Smith released a new album called A Woman. She soon released singles from the album, starting with "Still a Woman" in 1979. Although the song seemed very risky to record, it ended up being a hit that year, making the country top 10.
That year, she had another top 10 hit from the same album called "If I Give My Heart to You", which was again another risky song (and another remake of an oldie, previously a hit for Doris Day in 1954). Her songs and albums mainly focused on the popular country pop or Countrypolitan style. This kind of country music sounded more pop than country, and most of the artists coming out of Nashville at the time recorded this kind of country. Her stage show got more a more flashy as time progressed. She soon began wearing Spandex and satin outfits. Because of this, Smith's fan base grew larger. She also married producer Richard Cammeron of Cammeron Records in 1982, a record company for which Smith later recorded. Into 1980, her career was in its peak, with hits like "Baby My Baby", "The Shuffle Song" and "My Guy" (a hit for Mary Wells in the 1960s). She toured heavily with her band Night Flight, opening for country artists, like Charley Pride, Kenny Rogers, and Tammy Wynette.
Later career & life today
She had her last major hits in 1981, duetting with Rex Allen Jr., on the top 20 hit "Cup of Tea", along with a Top 30 hit called "While the Feeling's Good". Their duet "Cup of Tea" nominated the duo for Top Duet of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in 1981. In 1982, she moved to AMI Records, but with minor charting singles. She continued to label jumping through much of the early 80s, having a charting single in 1984 with "Please Tell Him I Said Hello". In 1985, she released an album entitled The Best of the Tennessee Yodeler, which paid a tribute to one of Smith's favorite singers, Bonnie Lou. The album was sold on television. Her last hit on the national charts came in 1988 was with the hit "Echo Me" on Playback Records.
She switched over to her Cammeron Records. She also briefly acted on the TNN show I-40 Paradise. She and her daughter, Holly became a Christian music group, called Margo Smith and Holly, and they recorded for Homeland Records. She and her daughter were popular Christian singers throughout much of the 1980s. They even had some Christian hits. Her daughter, now married and called Holly Watson, continues her career as a TV spokeswoman and actress. She recorded on and off for labels in the 1990s. Most recently, Smith contributed her vocals to the CD, The Littlest Star: A Musical Story, which is also a picture book. In 2005, she released a new album, her first in many years called Nothing to Lose, produced by Dave Moody and released by Lamon Records.
Today, Smith sometimes makes appearances at the Grand Ole Opry, and also does appearances at Dollywood (founded by Dolly Parton). She also continues to tour. Margo Smith is also a professional yodeler. One of her students, Taylor Ware, was the runner-up on the NBC show America's Got Talent in August 2006. Today, she is still married to Richard Cammeron, and they live in Brentwood, Tennessee.
Note; On Saturday, March 8, 2014, during a live radio interview with Chubby Howard of a radio station in Xenia, Ohio, Margo stated she now lives in The Villages which is outside of Leesburg, Florida.
Awards and nominations
|1981||Academy of Country Music||Top Duet of the Year (with Rex Allen Jr.) for "Cup of Tea"||Nominated|
|1981||Music City News Country||Top Duet of the Year (with Rex Allen Jr.) for "Cup of Tea"||Nominated|
|1994||CCMA||Vocal Duo/Group of the Year (with her daughter Holly)||Won|