Crystal Gayle PhotoBrenda Gail Webb
BORN: January 9, 1951, Paintsville, KY

With her rich voice and trademark long hair, Crystal Gayle was a popular performer of mainstream country ballads during the '70s and '80s. Born Brenda Gail Webb in Paintsville, Kentucky, she was the younger sister of country legend Loretta Lynn, a relationship which both boosted and hindered her career. Though they shared the same biological father, Gayle and Lynn had very different upbringings. After 1955 Gayle was raised in Wabash, Indiana; when she was 16, she began touring with Lynn's show. Her sibling's connections helped Gayle get a contract with Decca Records in 1970.

Her first single was a cover of her sister's song "I've Cried the Blue Right Out of My Eyes," which peaked at number 23 on the country charts. While it was a promising start to her career, Gayle was troubled by the belief that most of her success came from her lineage, not her talent. She sang Lynn's songs and was encouraged to utilize her big sister's style. Matters were not helped by the fact that Loretta and Gayle shared the same manager, Lynn's husband Moony, and that Loretta nicknamed her sister Crystal as a joke -- as a child, Gayle had a fondness for Krystal hamburgers. Gayle struggled to move out from her bigger sister's shadow. She began appearing regularly on Jim Ed Brown's The Country Place television show in 1972 and later signed to United Artists, where she began working with producer Allen Reynolds. It was he who helped her develop a gentler style.

Gayle released her eponymous debut album in 1975 and it provided her with three hits. One of them, "Wrong Road Again," climbed to number six on the country charts. Later in 1975, she released her second album, Somebody Loves You, and by the year's end, she had begun to develop her own fan base. In 1976, Gayle had her first number one country hit with "I'll Get Over You." The tune also marked the first of several forays onto the pop charts. At the end of the year, she released "You Never Miss a Real Good Thing (Till He Says Goodbye)," which became her second number one single.

In the summer of 1977, Gayle had her biggest hit with "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue." Written by Richard Leigh, the song was designed as Gayle's pop breakthrough and the strategy worked -- not only did the song spend four weeks on the top of the country charts, it reached number two on the pop charts. We Must Believe In Magic, the album that contained "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blues," went platinum within a year of its 1977 release. Gayle had three other number one hits -- "Ready for the Times to Get Better," "Talking in Your Sleep," and "Why Have You Left the One You Left Me For." In 1979, she became the first country artist to visit China when she participated in a Bob Hope television special.

During the early '80s, Gayle continued to rack up number one and Top Ten hits. In 1980, she signed with Columbia and her first album for the label, Miss the Mississippi, went gold. Gayle continued to have extraordinary chart success through the spring of 1987, after which her popularity gradually declined. In the early '90s, her contract with Warners expired and she signed with Branson, where she recorded new versions of her old hits. During the '90s, she recorded infrequently, preferring to concentrate on touring America and Europe.

In 1999 completed a tribute project, Crystal Gayle Sings the Heart & Soul of Hoagy Carmichael. In the meantime, she ran a shop in Nashville devoted to fine jewelry and (naturally) crystal. Gayle opened the new millennium with 2000's In My Arms, an album of children's songs. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Music Guide