|Birth name||Janie Marie Fricke|
|Born||December 19, 1947|
|Origin||South Whitley, Indiana, U.S.|
Smith Music Records
|Associated acts||Charlie Rich, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Duncan, Merle Haggard, Larry Gatlin, Louise Mandrell, Barbara Mandrell, Karen Taylor-Good|
Fricke was one of the most popular female country singers of the 1980s, producing a string of hits and proving herself a versatile vocalist with a particular flair for ballads. She won the Country Music Association's "Female Vocalist of the Year" awards in 1982 and 1983. Fricke has sold 14 million records worldwide.
Childhood and teen years
Fricke was born in South Whitley, Indiana, in 1947 to parents Phyllis Kyler and Waldemar Fricke and learned piano and guitar as a child; her first vocal influences were folk artists like Joan Baez and Judy Collins. Despite growing up in a musical family and spending much of her childhood singing at home, school, and church, her parents encouraged her to continue her formal education for a "respectable" career. While studying for her bachelor's degree in elementary education at Indiana University, she was a member of the Singing Hoosiers. Responding to an audition call that was posted on the bulletin board at practice, she was thrilled to get a job singing commercial jingles and station breaks (one of her most notable commercial jingles was for the Red Lobster seafood restaurant chain, in which she sang their famous slogan, "Red Lobster for the seafood lover in you."). Still, her parents insisted that she return to school to finish her degree, which she did and then headed to California to pursue a career. Returning to Nashville, she signed with the Lea Jane Singers, which marked the beginning of her commercial success.
In 1975 Fricke moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where she became an in-demand background vocalist. She sang background for numerous other artists at the time, including Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell, Crystal Gayle, Ronnie Milsap, Lynn Anderson, Tanya Tucker, Conway Twitty, and Eddie Rabbitt. However, it was her work as background vocalist on several recordings by Johnny Duncan that first brought Fricke to national attention. After supplying uncredited background vocals for such Duncan hits as "Jo and the Cowboy," "Thinkin' of a Rendezvous", "It Couldn't Have Been Any Better", and "Stranger," she was finally rewarded when she was given equal billing with Duncan on his cover of Jay and the Americans' "Come a Little Bit Closer," in which she sang the song's chorus. However, it was likely her contribution to Duncan's number one hit "Stranger" in 1977 that generated the most interest. In that song's chorus, Fricke sang the line, "Shut out the light and lead me....". Listeners wondered who the mystery lady was singing those words in Duncan's song. Because of this, Fricke was able to gain a recording contract of her own from Columbia Records, where she remained for over ten years, beginning in 1977.
1977 – 1980: Beginnings
Fricke teamed up with the Heart City Band and her 1977 debut single, "What're You Doing Tonight," just missed the Top 20. Collaborations with Charlie Rich (the number one hit "On My Knees") and Duncan (the Top Five "Come a Little Bit Closer") kept Fricke going strong through 1978, but her solo singles over the next couple of years had a hard time taking off. She did have two Top 20 hits between 1978 and 1979: her cover of Hank Locklin's "Please Help Me I'm Falling (In Love With You)," which reached No. 12; and "I'll Love Away Your Troubles for Awhile," which peaked at No. 14. However, Country radio still failed to regularly play her material, and because of this most of her other singles did not chart very high between 1978 and 1981.
During this time, Fricke had already released three studio albums, starting in 1977 with her debut album, Singer of Songs. The album produced her first three singles, "What're You Doing Tonight?", "Please Help Me I'm Falling (In Love With You)", and "Baby It's You". In 1979 Fricke released her second and third studio albums, Love Notes and From the Heart. Only Love Notes produced one Top 20 hit. None of Fricke's albums at this time had charted yet on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart.
1981 – 1989: Breakthrough success
In late 1980, Fricke's producer, Billy Sherrill noticed Fricke's limited success and realized the issue could be changed. Sherrill advised her to establish an identity by focusing on one style, and Fricke began to record ballads. As a result, Fricke had a breakout year in 1981, when she landed two Top Five hits with "Down to My Last Broken Heart" and "I'll Need Someone to Hold Me (When I Cry)." Fricke had her breakthrough success over 1982–1984, when she scored six number-one hits — "Don't Worry 'Bout Me Baby", "It Ain't Easy Bein' Easy", "Tell Me a Lie", "He's a Heartache", Let's Stop Talkin' About It", and "Your Heart's Not In It."  Three of Fricke's No. 1s were spawned from her 1982 album, It Ain't Easy which became a successful-selling album. In 1983, Fricke toured with "Heart City Band" and Alabama.
By this time, Fricke had broadened her style to include more up-tempo tracks as well. She was rewarded in 1982 and again in 1983 with "Female Vocalist of the Year" from the Country Music Association. In 1983 she released her next studio album, Love Lies, which peaked at No. 10 on the Top Country Albums chart. The album spawned a No. 1 single, "Let's Stop Talkin' About It" and a Top 10, "If the Fall Don't Get You". In 1984, Fricke released her next album, First Word in Memory. The lead single, "Your Heart's Not In It" was a No. 1 hit in 1984, followed by the title track, which became a Top 10 hit the same year.
During this time, Fricke also tried her hand at acting when she had a guest-starring role on the Dukes of Hazzard, playing the part of Ginny, a jewel thief who hid money in the dashboard of a getaway car that was to become the General Lee in the episode "Happy Birthday, General Lee" (Episode 131). She also was a part of the Louise Mandrell special "Diamonds, Gold and Platinum," among other TV specials.
Fricke's 1985 album, Somebody Else's Fire peaked at No. 21 on the Top Country Albums chart, and yielded three top ten hits. Fricke also reprised her role of background vocalist on two of Merle Haggard's 1985 singles, "Natural High", and on "A Place to Fall Apart", which became a No. 1 hit. In 1986 she released her next album, Black & White, which included her last No. 1 hit, "Always Have, Always Will", as well as her last Top 20 hit, "When a Woman Cries", which peaked at No. 20 in 1986.
Annoyed by mispronunciations of her name, she changed the spelling to "Frickie" in 1986, but a few years later, reverted to the original spelling.
As neo-traditional country music artists, including Patty Loveless and Randy Travis, gained popularity in 1987, the country-pop music Fricke had been recording since 1982 was no longer in style on country radio. Fricke's success began to decline. She recorded a Top 25 hit with Larry Gatlin called "From Time to Time (It Sure Feels Like Love Again)", released on Gatlin's 1987 Partners album. Fricke's 1987 album, After Midnight released one Top 40 country hit, "Are You Satisfied", which peaked at No. 32. The other singles from the album did not break into the Top 40. In 1988, Fricke's Saddle the Wind album peaked at No. 64 on the Top Country Albums chart. Her last charted single, 1989's "Give 'Em My Number", peaked at No. 43 on the Billboard Country Chart. After 1989's Labor of Love album, Fricke and Columbia records parted ways.
1990 – Present: Current career
Fricke's album Bouncin' Back was released in 2000 under her own label, JMF Records. She decided to sell her album on the Internet exclusively. Fricke continues to tour extensively, but she sets aside time to spend with her family on her Texas ranch near Lancaster.
In 2004, Fricke released a bluegrass album under DM records, The Bluegrass Sessions. The tracks from the album were Fricke's country hits from the 1980s recorded in bluegrass style for the album.
Fricke continues to be actively involved in the music industry today. In 2005, she attended the Country Music Association Awards. Fricke was the Firefighters' Marshal for Winchester, Virginia's "80th Annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival" in May 2007.
Fricke performed for five hours at the Independence Day festival in Slidell, Louisiana, on July 4, 2013 to a crowd of over 8,000.
Fricke is also an occasional participant in the Country's Family Reunion DVD series, which airs on RFD-TV.
In 1985, Fricke established the "Janie Fricke Scholarship at Indiana University" to benefit gifted students in the School of Music. The scholarships are open to active members of the Singing Hoosiers vocal ensemble who demonstrate financial need. Fricke has also participated in the "Country Music Hall of Fame Fundraising Campaign". Other artists who also support the project include, Big & Rich, Kenny Chesney, Kate Campbell, Amy Grant, James Otto, and Gretchen Wilson.
|1979||Music City News Country||Most Promising Female Artist of the Year|
|1982||Country Music Association Awards||Female Vocalist of the Year|
|1983||Female Vocalist of the Year|
|Academy of Country Music Awards||Top Female Vocalist|
|Music City News Country||Female Artist of the Year|
|1984||Female Artist of the Year|
|1978||Best Female Country Vocal Performance||What're You Doin' Tonight||Nominated|
|1985||Best Female Country Vocal Performance||Your Heart's Not in It||Nominated|
|1986||Best Female Country Vocal Performance||She's Single Again||Nominated|
- Country Music Magazine Editors, The Comprehensive Country Music Encyclopedia (Times Books, 1994), p. 131: "later changed the spelling of her name to Frickie, since everyone mispronounced it anyway."
- Janie Fricke at Allmusic
- Janie Fricke biography at Allmusic; retrieved March 29, 2008
- Janie Fricke biography at Musician Guide.com; retrieved March 29, 2008
- Janie Fricke biography at Musician Guide.com
- Janie Fricke biography at Allmusic
- Janie Fricke biography at Allmusic.com
- Janie Fricke biography at Allmusic; retrieved March 29, 2008.
- Janie Fricke biography at Musician Guide.com
- Janie Fricke biography at Musician Guide.com