Frederick Segrest (born December 21, 1926), known professionally as Freddie Hart, is an American country musician and songwriter best-known for his No. 1 hit "Easy Loving," which won the Country Music Association Song of the Year award in 1971 and 1972.

Hart charted singles from 1953-1987, and later became a gospel singer. He continues to perform at music festivals and other venues.

Biography

Childhood and military service:

Hart was born to a sharecropper family in Loachapoka, Alabama in 1926 and spent his childhood in nearby Phenix City, Alabama along with his 14 siblings. He learned to play guitar at age 5 and quit school by age 12. At age 15, Hart lied about his age to join the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, seeing combat action on Guam and Iwo Jima. Following the war, Hart lived in California where he taught classes in self-defense at the Los Angeles Police Academy.

Early career:

Hart got an early career break when singer Carl Smith covered Hart's song "Loose Talk" in 1955. Other artists who recorded his songs included Patsy Cline ("Lovin' In Vain"), George Jones ("My Tears are Overdue") and Porter Wagoner ("Skid Row Joe").

During the early 1950s, Hart and his family moved to California to further the growing country music scene there. In 1951, he joined Lefty Frizzell's band for a year. It was through Frizzell that Hart got his first recording contract with Capitol Records in 1953. He released several singles including his version of "Loose Talk", but none of these was successful. In 1958, Hart signed with Columbia Records and scored his first chart hit with "The Wall" in 1959 which made the Top 20. His biggest hit for the label was the 1960 Top 20 hit "The Key's In The Mailbox".

In 1965, Hart signed with Kapp Records where he would score several Top 40 hits between 1965 and 1968. The biggest of these hits included "Hank Williams' Guitar" (1965), "Born A Fool" (1968) and "Togetherness" (1968).

Re-signing with Capitol Records and Easy Loving:

In 1969, Hart re-signed with Capitol Records and soon became a part of the Bakersfield sound by signing up with Buck Owens' songwriting and management company. In early 1970, he scored a Top 30 hit with "The Whole World's Holdin' Hands". Hart's song "Togetherness", a hit for him in 1968, became a Top 15 hit for Buck Owens and Susan Raye that summer. Hart would score several minor hits during the year.

In 1971, Hart released a song that he wrote called "Easy Loving" which was first recorded in the summer of 1969 for his album California Grapevine, released in 1970. Released in the summer of 1971, "Easy Loving" rapidly began climbing the charts; and by that September, it was No. 1 for three weeks on the country charts and reached No. 17 on the pop charts. It was also played on adult contemporary stations, earning a position on Billboard's Easy Listening survey. The song would ultimately win Hart numerous awards from both the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association. The song sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold record by the R.I.A.A. in November 1971. The album of the same name also reportedly went gold. The song also won a Grammy Award for Hart.

From this success, Hart and his backup band, the Heartbeats, had a string of Top 5 hits with "My Hang-Up Is You" (six weeks at No. 1 in 1972), "Bless Your Heart" (No. 1 in 1972), "Got the All Overs For You (All Over Me)" (No. 1 in 1972), "If You Can't Feel It (It Ain't There)" (1973), "Super Kind of Woman" (No. 1 in 1973), "Trip to Heaven" (No. 1 in 1973), "Hang In There Girl" (1974), "The Want-To's" (1974), "My Woman's Man" (1975), "The First Time" (1975), "I'd Like To Sleep Till I Get Over You" (1975) and "The Warm Side of You" (1975). He has been called by many fans as "The Heart and Soul of Country Music".

With the success of "Easy Loving" and other songs he wrote, plus a popular concert attraction on the road, Hart became independently wealthy and owned a songwriting company, a school for the blind, a trucking company, and a chain of martial arts studios--his hobby was as a master of karate.

Late 1970s-80s:

By 1976, Hart continued to have major hits although now his streak of Top 10s were replaced by a streak of Top 20 and Top 30 hits. These included "You Are The Song Inside Of Me" (1976), "That Look In Her Eyes" (1976), "Thank God She's Mine" (1977), "The Pleasure's Been All Mine" (1977), "Toe to Toe" (1978), and "Wasn't It Easy Baby" (1979). His last Top 10 hit came with the hit "Why Lovers Turn to Strangers" in 1977, which peaked at No. 8. This song was written by east Idaho based composer Bobby Fender.

In 1980, Hart signed with Sunbird Records, and immediately scored a Top 20 hit with "Sure Thing" that year. He followed this up with 3 Top 40 hits in 1981. This ended his days as a major country artist. In 1985 and 1987, he had a couple of minor hits on El Dorado and 5th Avenue Records, with his last hit being "The Best Love I Ever Had" in 1987 peaking at No. 77.

2000s-present:

In 2001, Hart was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. A few years later, Phenix City declared a major east-west street Freddie Hart Parkway in his honor.

Hart released a handful of new albums on CD, showcasing his passion for gospel music, patriotism and the traditional country sound that originally made him famous. These albums prompted him to selectively tour and perform concerts around the world. Hart retains a large following in Europe and the U.S., where he continues to perform at music festivals, universities, churches and industry events.