Millie Kirkham

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Millie Kirkham (born Mildred Eakes; June 24, 1923 – December 14, 2014) was an American singer who was featured on many classic hit recordings from the mid-1950s through the 1980s.

Early life[edit]

Kirkham was born Mildred Eakes in Hermitage, Tennessee.[1] She performed in high school bands in the early 1940s before graduating to session work.

Millie was known as the "Nashville soprano" and teamed with the Jordanaires on numerous hit records. She worked with Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, Brenda Lee, Eddie Arnold, and Elvis Presley.

Elvis had heard the song "Gone" in which Millie sang the angelic background harmony. Elvis asked the Jordanaires "who is that lady that sang on Gone}? to which the Jordanaires replied "that is Millie, Millie Kirkham". They called her and she accepted.

It was during the "Blue Christmas" recording session that Millie arrived. She was six months pregnant, which was unknown to Elvis, and immediately upon her arrival Elvis said "someone please get that lady a chair". Their relationship, which included a mutual friendship and love outside of music, continued through the 1960s and was showcased as part of the highly acclaimed 1970 documentary "Elvis, That's The Way It Is".

Her soprano was heard on many of Elvis Presley's recordings such as "The Wonder Of You, Surrender, How Great Thou Art, Polk Salad Annie, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Don't, Just Pretend, (You're The) Devil in Disguise, C.C. Rider" and many others. She also sang with Elvis on many of his movie soundtracks and performed with him on stage in the 1970 documentary, Elvis: That's the Way It Is in Las Vegas. A longtime fixture in the music community, her credits include numerous radio and television appearances, collaborations with the Jordanaires and the Anita Kerr Singers along with her countless recording sessions in Los Angeles, New York City, Las Vegas and Nashville.

In February 2008 she appeared in "Nashville celebrates Elvis at the Ryman" alongside George Klein (Emcee), Pat Boone, David Briggs, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Wanda Jackson, Wynonna Judd, Ray Walker of the Jordanaires, Ronnie McDowell, TG Sheppard, BJ Thomas and former members of J.D. Sumner & the Stamps.

Personal life and death[edit]

Kirkham married drummer Doug Kirkham. He died in 1986. She died on December 14, 2014, at the age of 91 in Nashville, Tennessee following a stroke earlier in the week.[2]

Partial discography[edit]

YearSongArtist
1956GoneFerlin Husky
1957Blue ChristmasElvis Presley
1958Anna MarieJim Reeves
1960I'm SorryBrenda Lee
1960Poetry In MotionJohnny Tillotson
1962Back In Baby's ArmsPatsy Cline
1963Pretty WomanRoy Orbison
1966If Everyday Was Like ChristmasElvis Presley
1980He Stopped Loving Her TodayGeorge Jones

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Elvis Presley Backup Singer Millie Kirkham Dies at 91". ashvillescene.com. December 15, 2014. 
  2. ^ Notice of death of Millie Kirkham, tennessean.com; accessed December 16, 2014.

External links[edit]