Born Lula Grace Johnson in West Plains, Missouri, Jan was the eighth of eleven children, and times were tough as a child. Growing up poor on a farm, she had no desire to be a country music entertainer. No one knew she could really sing. She had the normal life of any child growing up in that time period. Helping out on the farm was only natural. By the time Jan was fifteen, she was married. She had three sons by the time she was twenty.
Once Jan divorced from her second husband, she decided she would try to get a fresh start by heading west to Los Angeles. Once there she took on a job as a waitress and a secretary. About a month after moving, Jan attended a wedding where one of the guests was an unknown, aspiring country music singer and songwriter named Harlan Howard. As soon as they met, they hit the floor running. After knowing each other for a month, Jan and Harlan headed for Las Vegas and were married. At this point, Harlan was writing songs and performing anywhere that would hear him play.
One night as Jan was washing dishes, Harlan walked in and heard her singing. He liked her voice so much that he asked her to record some demo songs,which he sent to various companies. As a result she began singing demos for Tex Ritter and Johnny Bond. She recorded the original demo for "I Fall To Pieces" and the female verses for "Daddy Sang Bass" that went on to become a hit for Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. In 1959, using the pseudonym "Jan Howard," she recorded "Yankee Go Home."
By 1968, her marriage with Harlan Howard had come to an end. During that same year, Howard dreamed that her eldest son had been killed in Vietnam, which turned out to be true; shortly thereafter, she released the Top 15 single "My Son." In 1971, Howard became a member of the Grand Ole Opry; two years later, her youngest son committed suicide. She joined the Johnny Cash Show and in 1977 had three minor hits, including "To Love A Rolling Stone." In 1979, she and Tammy Wynette embarked on a tour of the U.S. and Great Britain. In 1984, Howard released the album Tainted Love, followed by Life of a Country Girl Singer in 1987. The same year, she published her best-selling autobiography Sunshine and Shadow.
Howard remarried in 1990 and continues to remain an active member of the country music world and still performs as one of the Grand Ladies Of The Grand Ole Opry. (Info edited from AMG and countrymusic.about.com)