Canadian Country Singer Lucille Starr Dies At 82

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Lucille Starr, the first Canadian female country singer to sell a million records, died Friday in Las Vegas after a long illness. She was 82.

Starr was one of the first woman inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame (Marg Osburn was posthumously inducted at the same time) and the first female to perform solo at the famed Grand Ole Opry.

"To me, she is Canadian Royalty," tweeted singer-songwriter Michelle Wright. "Any time I had the opportunity to be around her she was bigger than life with a wonderful laugh & so beautiful & down to earth." MP Charlie Angus tweeted that "Lucille Star helped define the soundtrack of Canada."

Born Lucille Marie Raymonde Savoie in St. Boniface, Manitoba, she was still a child when her family moved to Maillardville, B.C., where she developed her love of singing and joined a local group called Les Hirondelles.

She teamed up with – and married – Bob Regan and began recording songs as Bob & Lucille and, later, as the Canadian Sweethearts.

Starr launched a solo career with the bilingual track “Quand Le Soleil Dit Bonjour Aux Montagnes” ("The French Song”), which made her an international success – and sparked jealously in Regan that led to the end of their marriage in 1967. (She continued to perform with Regan for another decade.)

On the ‘60s comedy series The Beverly Hillbillies, Starr provided the singing and yodelling voice for Cousin Pearl Bodine (Bea Benaderet).

Starr’s last album was released in 1991 and she stopped performing in 2011 after undergoing brain surgery. She later had procedures to treat cancer.

Starr is survived by husband Brian Cunningham, son Robert Frederickson and stepchildren Shannon and David.

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