At first glance, bluegrass singer Mary Beth Anderson’s death in the United States may seem like a case of tragedy.
But the songstress, who died at the age of 66 on Saturday, was one of the country’s biggest stars, the singer, guitarist and producer known as the Blue Devils.
The singer was known for her distinctive voice and singing style, which she had developed during her years in Nashville and California.
Her career took off during the mid-1960s with her breakthrough album, Bluegrass Country, which sold more than 1 million copies worldwide and became the best-selling bluegrass album of all time.
She won four Grammy awards and five Tony awards.
But in the years that followed, her popularity waned.
She died in December of this year, aged 62.
She was a former US secretary of defence and the widow of legendary US Army Colonel James “Doc” Anderson, who led the US forces during World War II and the Korean War.
“I was a fighter pilot, a soldier, a lover of the land and the music,” she said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
“My husband died at that time, and I couldn’t bear to see him go.”
The US military paid tribute to her on Facebook, saying her passing “is a painful loss to our military family”.
“She left behind a legacy of music that will live on in the generations to come,” the statement read.
The Blue Devils were known for their unique, original songs, which are often considered to be country’s unofficial anthem.
Their music was a fusion of traditional and jazz standards, and many of their hits were also inspired by military service.
It is no surprise that Mary Beth’s fans have taken to social media to mourn her loss.
On Facebook, many people described her as a true pioneer of American bluegrass.
“The bluegrass community will miss Mary Beth as they mourn the loss of a talented singer, songwriter and musician,” one user wrote.
“RIP Mary Beth.
She touched the hearts of so many people.
But some said the singer’s legacy should not be overshadowed by her personal life.
“Her legacy should be celebrated,” said one commenter.
“She was one hell of a songwriter, a singer who did her work and was dedicated to music.
The world can never forget her.”
On her Facebook page, she wrote that her death was a “tragic loss”.
“My deepest condolences to her family, friends and fans.
My love and gratitude to all those who supported me through thick and thin.
I am grateful for all the years I have lived the life of a pioneer, not only in bluegrass but in the music industry as well,” she wrote.
Mary Beth was born in Tennessee in 1954.
She became known for a range of hits including The First Time in the World, The First Day in Heaven and She Loves a Little Town, which earned her the title of Blue Devil of the South.
She also sang in the country music group the Bluebirds and was a member of the Nashville Jazz Band.
In the mid 1960s, she moved to Los Angeles and formed the Blue Devil Band, which recorded and released a number of hits.
She performed on country radio stations and on television shows.
Her husband died in 1968.
In 1973, she recorded her first solo album.
The album was titled You Can’t Take Your Eyes Off Me, which was released in 1976 and became her biggest hit, with over 10 million copies sold worldwide.
The next year, she joined the Bluebird Band and released her first album, She Loses Her Hair, which featured a song called The Day She Died.
She and her husband also released a compilation, The Last Day of the Bluegrass, which included tracks such as The One Time, The One and The One.
She recorded a number more albums during the next decade, including her first studio album, When You’re Gone.
The couple died in 2007.