Yesterday Cher's mother Georgia Holt turned 95! She and the pop sensation are as close as ever, and Holt is a star in her own right. Though she was essentially a failed actress, struggling with auditions and bit parts during her daughter's youth, Holt's talents were eventually recognized. In 2013, the then-86-year-old released a successful country album: Honky Tonk Woman... and let's just say it clear where Cher gets her voice. The songs on Honky Tonk Woman are soft and sultry and evoke, truly, the diva herself: their deep twang is obviously a family trait.
Born Jackie Jean Crouch in Kensett, Arkansas in 1926, the future Georgia Holt had a tough upbringing. Her mother, Lynda Inez Gulley, was just 13 years old when little Georgia was born. Her father was 21. Growing up, she bounced between their two families and guesses that she attended 17 different middle schools altogether. Throughout the madness, though, there was music. Georgia's father taught her to play guitar when she was young and by the time she was six, she sang on-air for an Oklahoma City radio station. When Georgia was 10 performed with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, and from there, became a local beauty queen competing in various talent competitions.
That strive for stardom eventually led Georgia to Hollywood after giving birth to her daughter Cher, born Cherilyn Sarkisian, in 1946. Georgia was just 19 at the time and considered terminating the pregnancy or giving Cher up. Instead, she married the father -- Johnny Sarkisian -- for a brief time while living in Scranton, Pennsylvania. But after a quickie divorce in Reno, it was off to Los Angeles for the young mother-daughter duo.
Under the stage name Georgia Pelham, she won a scholarship to acting school and began auditioning for television roles. She also married her second husband, Chris Alcaide, around that time. But the marriage didn't last. And professionally, Georgia faced another crushing blow: after a charming audition, she earned the lead role in the 1950 noir The Asphalt Jungle. But suddenly, the offer was revoked -- and given to a little-known starlet Norma Jean Baker... a.k.a. Marilyn Monroe.
Following that disappointment, Georgia married John Southall. With this third husband, Georgia had her second daughter Georganne. But after Southall's alcoholism became apparent, Georgia and the girls moved on... to another failed stepfather figure, Joe Collins. But finally, husband #5 stuck around -- for a while. Gilbert La-Piere, a wealthy banker, adopted both girls for some time. But even that did not last. With all the inner-family turmoil, the teenaged Cher began to rebel. When she was 17, she met the older musician Salvatore "Sonny" Bono. And was smitten. Obviously, the rest is musical history.
But despite Cher's running off with Sonny, she and her mother remained close. Their unique relationship is explored further in the 2013 Lifetime documentary Dear Mom, Love Cher.
'Hony Tonk Woman'
Georgia Holt did not release Honky Tonk Woman until 2013 when she was 86 years old. But the songs were recorded long before, lost for decades in Holt's garage. According to The Guardian, Holt first recorded the songs on Honky Tonk Woman during the 1980s with members of Elvis Presley's band. But when it came time to release the tapes now, Cher explained on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno that musical director Paul Mirkovich put new music behind Holt's voice. In addition to appearing on Leno at the time, Cher and Holt also visited Ellen to promote the new album. There, the pair performed together a favorite track off the album: "I'm Just Your Yesterday." Watch that sweet moment below.
A Duet with Cher
In addition to the duet, "I'm Just Your Yesterday" and covers of Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender" and Buck Owens' "Cryin' Time," the ten tracks on Honky Tonk Woman also mark Holt's debut as a songwriter. They include "I Sure Don't Want to Love You," "Movin' On," "Las Vegas Blues," "I Bought the Love That You Gave Me," "I Wonder Where You Are Tonight," "You Can't Go Home Again," and "Homecoming Queen."
Following its release on April 30, 2013, Honky Tonk Woman hit the Billboard's Heatseekers Albums list at #13.