Just hours after her death on Saturday (March 28) at the age of 91, Grand Ole Opry member Jan Howard was honored at the Opry with a performance by Vince Gill, his wife Amy Grant and daughters Jenny Gill and Corrina Grant Gill. Together, the family foursome performed the standard "You Are My Sunshine" in Howard's honor.

The song concluded the Gill-Grant family's Saturday night Grand Ole Opry set, performed in an empty Grand Ole Opry House and broadcast live on radio and TV due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "Tonight, let's think of the great Jan Howard and lift her up in your prayers," Gill said by way of introduction. "Be sweet to one another."

Readers can press play above to watch the full Saturday night Opry set, which Gill described as "a family night [when we'll] gather 'round and sing some songs we love." Their show included solo performances from each artist, a round of cover songs and an all-family rendition of "How Great Thou Art."

Born Lula Grace Johnson on March 13, 1929, in West Plains, Mo., Howard died in Gallatin, Tenn., just one day after the 49th anniversary of her Grand Ole Opry induction on March 27, 1971. She began her music career in 1960, with the No. 13 hit "The One You Slip Around With," the first of more than 20 Top 40 solo singles for Howard.

Howard was also a songwriter, and she penned songs for, among others, Kitty Wells and Bill Anderson. With Anderson as a duet partner, Howard earned the No. 1 hit "For Loving You;" she also was part of the cast of his syndicated TV show and toured with him.

One of Howard's best-known songs, "My Son," started as a letter to her son Jimmy, who fought in the Vietnam War and was killed in action in 1968. Howard was an avid supporter of the military, especially Vietnam veterans, and mental health organizations, and worked with the Veterans Administration and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

For her service work, Howard received the Tennessee Adjutant General's Distinguished Patriot Medal, its highest civilian honor. In 2005, she was presented with the Medal of Merit, awarded for “exceptional service rendered to country, community and mankind," by the Commander in Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Howard's life and career are chronicled in her autobiography, Sunshine and Shadow: My Story, which she released in the late 1980s. She was, for a time, married to well-known country songwriter Harlan Howard.

Howard leaves behind her son, Carter, and his wife Pamela; two grandchildren, Mitsi (and her husband Keith) and Anita (and her husband Travis); and three great-grandchildren, Cole, Alli and Charlie. The family will hold a small, private graveside service and plan a celebration of life event for a later date.

In lieu of flowers, Howard's family asks that donations be made to the Overwatch Alliance Veterans Foundation. The organization's address is:

1000 North Chase Dr.
Goodlettsville, TN 37072

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