Janie Fricke

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Janie Fricke
Janie Fricke.jpg
Background information
Birth name Janie Marie Fricke
Born (1947-12-19) December 19, 1947 (age 68)
Origin South Whitley, Indiana, U.S.
Genres Country pop
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1977–present
Labels Columbia Records
Branson Records
JMF Records
Smith Music Records
DM Records
Associated acts Charlie Rich, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Duncan, Merle Haggard, Larry Gatlin, Louise Mandrell, Barbara Mandrell, Karen Taylor-Good
Website Official Site

Janie Marie Fricke (born December 19, 1947), also known as Janie Frickie,[1] is an American country music singer, best remembered for a series of country music hits in the early to mid-1980s.

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.[2] She won the Country Music Association's "Female Vocalist of the Year" awards in 1982 and 1983. Fricke has sold 14 million records worldwide. She has an estimated net worth of $9 million.

Early life[edit]

Childhood and teen years[edit]

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 such as Joan Baez and Judy Collins.[3] 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 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.[4]

Career discovery[edit]

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, her work as background vocalist on several recordings by Johnny Duncan 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, her contribution to Duncan's number-one hit "Stranger" in 1977 likely generated the most interest. In that song's chorus, Fricke sang the line, "Shut out the light and lead me....".[5] 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 over 10 years, beginning in 1977.

Solo career[edit]

1977-80: Beginnings[edit]

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 few years had a hard time taking off.[6] 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 number 12; and "I'll Love Away Your Troubles for Awhile", which peaked at number 14. However, country radio still failed to regularly play her material, so 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.

1981-89: Breakthrough success[edit]

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)".[7] 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." [7] 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.[7] 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 number 10 on the Top Country Albums chart. The album spawned a number-one 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 number-one 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 number 21 on the Top Country Albums chart, and yielded three top-10 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 number-one hit. In 1986, she released her next album, Black & White, which included her last number-one hit, "Always Have, Always Will", as well as her last top-20 hit, "When a Woman Cries", which peaked at number 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 neotraditional 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 number 32. The other singles from the album did not break into the top 40. In 1988, Fricke's Saddle the Wind album peaked at number 64 on the Top Country Albums chart. Her last charted single, 1989's "Give 'Em My Number", peaked at number 43 on the Billboard Country Chart. After 1989's Labor of Love album, Fricke and Columbia records parted ways.

1990-present: Current career[edit]

In the early 1990s, Fricke became a regular on the TNN variety series The Statler Brothers Show, alongside Rex Allen, Jr. She, along with Allen, also hosted the show's spin-off, Yesteryear.

Fricke recorded two albums for the small Branson label in 1992 and 1993, and issued the gospel record Hymns of Faith on Intersound in 1996.[8]

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.[9]

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.

Philanthropic efforts[edit]

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.[10] 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.


Year Award Program Award
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

Grammy Nominations[edit]

Year Award Song Result
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



  1. ^ 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."
  2. ^ Janie Fricke at Allmusic
  3. ^ Janie Fricke biography at Allmusic; retrieved March 29, 2008
  4. ^ Janie Fricke biography at Musician Guide.com; retrieved March 29, 2008
  5. ^ Janie Fricke biography at Musician Guide.com
  6. ^ Janie Fricke biography at Allmusic
  7. ^ a b c Janie Fricke biography at Allmusic.com
  8. ^ Janie Fricke biography at Allmusic; retrieved March 29, 2008.
  9. ^ Janie Fricke biography at Musician Guide.com
  10. ^ Janie Fricke biography at Musician Guide.com

External links[edit]