When it comes to country music, there’s no way you can undermine the contribution of female country singers. Whether it’s Dolly, Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood… the list practically goes on. While country music was primarily dominated by male singers in the 1990s, things have dramatically changed in this era.
Today, female singers not only experiment with traditional elements but also present a blend of pop, folk music, and rock and roll. Women’s contribution to country music cannot be ignored. There has been a massive influx of blockbuster numbers by female artists who never shied away from experimenting country music with other genres. Music savvy and exceptional female artists won many accolades for their impressive and soul-stirring work. Below is the list of 40 prominent country artists of all time.
Kelsea Ballerini- The Melodious Country Diva
Kelsea is an aspiring American country singer and songwriter who has made her mark at a very young age. Kelsea’s relation with music can be traced back to the times when she would take part in school choirs and even sang at the church. Kelsea’s work is influenced by country music and pop, as well.
She started off her career knowing more about pop music until she discovered Keith Urban’s ‘Stupid Boy’ which tilted her interest towards country music. Her two albums called ‘Unapologetically’ and ‘The First Time’ won her many praises, and the strong melodic appeal in her songs resonate well with her audience. In March 2016, Ballerini began dating Australian country singer Morgan Evans. The couple engaged on Christmas Day 2016 and married on December 2, 2017, in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Anne Murray- Canadian Country Artist
Unlike other singers who hailed from America, Anne is regarded as the first Canadian female country singer to score a top spot on American music charts. She has a great fan following in both Canada and America and is said to have paved the way for Canadian female country singers. She became an instant hit with her song ‘Snowbird’ in 1970, which was an amalgamation of pop and country culture.
Her popularity can be understood from the fact that during 4 decades of her profession, she sold 55 million copies of her work, internationally. Murray married Bill Langstroth, a music producer in 1975. The couple has two children: William and Dawn. Dawn, a singer-songwriter, has recorded with her mother several times, including the duet “Let There Be Love” in 1999. Murray and Langstroth separated in 1997 and divorced the following year. Langstroth died in May 2013. Murray has lived in Markham, Ontario, since the late 1970s.
Kacey Musgraves – Queen of Controversial, Country Musicals
Six Grammy Awards winner Kacey rose to stardom with her critically acclaimed album ‘Same Trailer Different Park,’ followed by ‘Golden Hour’ that won her 4 Grammy Awards. She is known to express controversial topics in her songs related to the case of recreational marijuana, LGBT, and religion. Lee Ann considers Alison Krauss as her role model for country music and considers that awards are not the true representation of one’s talents.
Her work is often criticized within the conservative country music circles; however, she thinks that her songs depict her feelings and not the notion of rebellion. In May 2016, Musgraves met Ruston Kelly at the Bluebird Café in Nashville. Musgraves stated that the song “Butterflies” from her album Golden Hour is about her courtship with Kelly. On December 24, 2016, Musgraves became engaged to Kelly. They married on October 14, 2017, in Tennessee.
Jennifer Nettles – Dynamic, Multifaceted Country Artist
An American country music songwriter and singer, Jennifer had the perfect mix of dynamic vocals, which she used in her songs with poetic flair. Her work is influenced by various other genres such as blues, rock, and folk, which she uses to create magic through her honest and engaging lyrics. She has been the main vocalist of her band, Sugarland, and rose to fame through her performances.
The band gave various award-winning songs, including ‘All I Want to Do’ and ‘Already Gone.’ She is regarded as an outstanding, live performer. Nettles married Todd Van Sickle in 1998, but the couple divorced in 2007. On November 26, 2011, Nettles married her boyfriend of two years, Justin Miller, at Blackberry Farm in East Tennessee. On June 18, 2012, Nettles and her husband announced they were expecting their first child. Their son, Magnus Hamilton-Miller, was born on December 6, 2012.
Taylor Swift – The Fearless Achiever
Taylor’s country music career began at the age of 14 and became the youngest artist signed by Sony TV. She is one of the most popular country artists of today with a crossover for pop culture as well. Her album ‘Fearless’ won her Grammy awards and was received better than her first album. Like many other country artists, her work is influenced by subgroups of pop, including bubblegum and pop-rock.
She is said to have sweet yet soft vocals. She writes her own songs and her, and the lyrics are often a narrative of her own life experiences. With estimated sales of over 50 million albums and 150 million singles worldwide, Swift is one of the best-selling music artists. As a songwriter, she has received awards from the Nashville Songwriters Association and the Songwriters Hall of Fame and was included in Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time in 2015. She also ranked first in the Forbes Celebrity 100 (2016 and 2019), and was the youngest to be featured in the magazine’s listing of the 100 most powerful women (2015).
Barbara Mandrell – Versatile Singer & Musician
Barbara is a notable name in the list of country artists in the 1970s and 1980s. She remains the only female country artist to win the ‘Entertainer of the Year’ award. Barbara gave many number one hits, including ‘If Loving You is Wrong,’ ‘Sleeping Single in a Double Bed,’ and ‘Year.’ With over 30 albums to her credit over four decades, her talent has never been restricted to singing only.
Barbara could also play almost every instrument, including banjo and an accordion. Barbara Mandrell married Ken Dudney on May 28, 1967. Dudney had been the drummer in the Mandrell Family Band. Dudney and Mandrell have three children: Kenneth Matthew Dudney, Jaime Nicole Dudney, and Nathaniel Mandrell Dudney.
Barbara Mandrell’s former mansion, Fontanel, located in Whites Creek, Tennessee, near Nashville, has been turned into a tourist attraction with a restaurant, a hotel, an outdoor music venue, and an indoor shooting range.
Lynn Anderson – The Crossover Diva
Lynn introduced country music to the parts of the world where it did not have any reach earlier. She is a legendary country music singer who continued to give number one hits, including ‘Rose Garden,’ ‘If I Kiss You,’ and ‘Promises, Promises.’ She received quite an exposure on national TV, and her crossover appeal made her gain fame.
Lynn was a multi-faceted artist who introduced many diversifications towards country music and concerts. With the contribution of over 35 albums, Lynn became one of the leading country music artists and was well sought for stage performances. Anderson was married to Grammy Award-winning songwriter Glenn Sutton from 1968 to 1977. They had one child together, Lisa, born in 1970. In 1978, she married Louisiana oil tycoon Harold “Spook” Stream III, with whom she had two children. Stream and Anderson divorced in 1982. Anderson lived in Nashville and at the time of her death (July 30, 2015), aged 67, she had been in a relationship for 26 years with songwriter and producer Mentor Williams.
Crystal Gayle – When Talent Runs in the Genes
Crystal gained success as a country music artist in 1975 with the release of her song ‘Wrong Road Again.’ She was the sister of famous country singer Loretta Lynn but made her own place in the music industry by giving out major hits including ‘You and I,’ ‘Talking in Your Sleep’ and ‘The Sound of Goodbye.’
Crystal collaborated with artists such as Tom Waits and Gary Morris to record movie tracks. She is starred at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and her music continues to entice country music lovers. Crystal received many awards and was nominated for various hit songs that are still popular among the country music lovers. Crystal Gayle was born Brenda Gail Webb on January 9, 1951, in Paintsville, Kentucky. She is the fourth daughter and last child of eight born to Clara Marie “Clary” and Melvin Theodore “Ted” Webb. Mr. Webb was a coal miner and subsistence farmer.
LeAnn Rimes – An All-Rounder Country Artist and Actor
Some are born artists, while others struggle to create their place in the industry. LeAnn is one of those who were born to be famous. Her multi-faceted career spanned around acting, songwriting, and singing. Her singing style is compared to that of Patsy Cline’s, i.e., the presence of emotional elements in their vocals. At the age of 13, LeAnn was already known to the world with her top hitting chart ‘Blue’; that won her a Grammy Award. Her song ‘How Do I Live’ had been a blockbuster and remained on the Billboard charts for almost 70 weeks.
In 2001 Rimes fell in love with backup dancer Dean Sheremet. The two met when he was chosen to dance during Rimes’s hosting of the 2001 Academy of Country Music Awards.
After her first date with Sheremet, Rimes told InStyle Magazine: “This is the guy I want to marry.” The couple married the next year, in 2002.
In July 2009, the couple separated, and in September 2009, Rimes announced their plans to divorce. The divorce was finalized on June 19, 2010, exactly six months after Sheremet filed divorce documents for dissolution of marriage.
Rimes’s marriage to Sheremet ended in 2009 following press coverage of her extramarital affair with actor Eddie Cibrian while she worked with him on Northern Lights (a Lifetime made-for-TV film).
Sara Evans – Implementing Neo-Traditionalism At Its Best
Another born artist, Sara Evans, has been associated with music since she was four years old. She performed with her family band and grew up making her way up the top country charts with the release of ‘Backseat of a Greyhound Bus,’ ‘Slow Me Down,’ and ‘A Little Bit Stronger.’ Her work is influenced by neo-traditionalist as well as country-pop culture.
With 8 studio albums and 20 plus singles to her credit, Sara has continued to enthrall her fans by her relentless contributions to the country music. On June 14, 2008, Evans married Jay Barker, a former University of Alabama quarterback, national championship winner, and current radio show host. They married in Franklin, Tennessee, with their children as their attendants. Evans and her three children now live in Mountain Brook, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, with Barker and his four children Andrew, Braxton, and twins Sarah Ashlee and Harrison.
Loretta Lynn – The Artist of the Lifetime
No list of female country artists is complete without Loretta Lynn, one of the greatest female contributors to the country music industry. She worked for 6 decades, during which Loretta performed duets as well as appeared as an individual artist. Loretta’s work was influenced by her own difficulties in life. Her songs captured themes of birth control, gender biases, and repeated childbirth; themes that were considered bold during a much conservative country music period. Her songs named, ‘The Pill,’ ‘Rated X,’ and ‘One’s on The Way’ depict her emotions towards the themes she sang passionately about.
Lynn was married for almost 50 years until her husband died at age 69 in 1996. In her 2002 autobiography Still Woman Enough and in an interview with CBS News the same year, Lynn recounted how her husband cheated on her regularly and once left her while she was giving birth. Lynn and her husband fought frequently, but she said that “he never hit me one time that I didn’t hit him back twice.” Loretta has said that her marriage was “one of the hardest love stories.” In one of her autobiographies, she recalled: “I married Doo when I wasn’t but a child, and he was my life from that day on. But as important as my youth and upbringing was, there’s something else that made me stick to Doo. He thought I was something special, more special than anyone else in the world, and never let me forget it. That belief would be hard to shove out the door. Doo was my security, my safety net. And remember, I’m explainin’, not excusin’… Doo was a good man and a hard worker. But he was an alcoholic, and it affected our marriage all the way through.”
Dolly Parton – Veteran Country Music Artist
Whenever country music is discussed, it is impossible to exclude Dolly Parton as both are considered inseparable. Dolly’s contribution to country music has been enormous. She has earned 46 Grammy Awards nominations for her incredible songs, including, ‘I will always love you,’ ‘Coat of many colors,’ and ‘Jolene.
She has composed more than 3,000 songs and has been associated with not only music but acting, philanthropy, and business as well. Dolly has been setting records till the age of 2018, and fame and rewards don’t seem to leave this living legend. On May 30, 1966, Parton and Carl Thomas Dean were married in Ringgold, Georgia. Dean, who is retired from running an asphalt road-paving business in Nashville, has always shunned publicity and rarely accompanies his wife to any events. In 2011 Parton said, “We’re really proud of our marriage. It’s the first for both of us. And the last.” On May 6, 2016, Parton announced that she and her husband would renew their vows in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary later in the month.
Tammy Wynette – Heartfelt & Soul-Stirring
Tammy was another high end, country music artist whose heartfelt songs gained much popularity during the 1960s and 1970s. Her songs depicted themes of loneliness, divorce, and hardships of life. Her song, ‘Stand by Your Man,’ is the best single by a female in the country music genre, which won her a Grammy Awards.
Tammy rose to fame during the time when country music legends such as Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton were already in the spotlight. However, Tammy did not falter in the presence of such blockbuster artists. She carved her own niche. Her tearful way of singing resonated with her female fans passing through turmoil in their lives. She sold 30 million records and retained a top position on various charts throughout her career.
Patsy Cline – Rock n Roll with Country Music
Patsy was an accomplished classical country singer who performed regularly on the Grand Ole Opry. Patsy relied more on traditional elements of country music; however, during those times, Rock and Roll was gaining popularity, so she began to familiarize the mainstream audience to this genre. Her famous ‘I Fall to Pieces’ remained as a best seller for 39 weeks. She sang heartfelt songs of lost love, with her voice being an accurate medium to convey her inner feelings.
Cline was married twice. Her first marriage was to Gerald Cline, on March 7, 1953. Gerald Cline often took her to “one-nighters” and other concerts she performed in. Although he enjoyed her performances, he could not get used to her touring and road schedule. The couple began living separately by the end of 1956 and divorced in 1957.
Cline married her second husband, Charlie Dick, on September 15, 1957. The pair met in 1956 while Cline was performing with a local Virginia band. The pair had children Julie and Randy together. Following Cline’s death in 1963, Dick married country artist Jamey Ryan in 1965. The couple divorced in the early 1970s after having one child together.
Kitty Wells – An Exceptional Country Singer and Performer
Kitty is known as the Queen of country music. The list of famous country artists from the 1950s to 1960s is quite limited, but Kitty has already made her mark and place it into that list. Kitty was a born artist and started learning guitar from her father. She would also sing with her sister at the station.
Kitty hit her fame with the release of ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.’ For nearly two decades, she had given many hits and was one of the most sought-after concert performers. Wells married Johnnie Wright in 1937. She was widowed 33 days before their 74th wedding anniversary when Johnnie died in 2011, aged 97. Kitty and Johnnie had three children, Ruby, Bobby, and Carol Sue, eight grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and seven great-great-grandchildren. Carol Sue released a single with Wells in the mid-’50s titled “How Far Is Heaven,” which peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Country Chart.
June Carter Cash – Musician and Country Artist
Carter was a famous country singer and actress who rose to fame in the 1960s. From a very young age, she was introduced to Appalachian folk songs via her mother. Not only singing but playing instruments such as the autoharp was one of her talents. ‘Ring of Fire’ was her best-known song, and it reflects her feelings towards country singer Johnny Cash. During her career, she sang many duets with Cash and also performed as a solo artist. She also co-wrote many songs with her husband.
Carter was married three times and had one child with each husband. All three of her children went on to have successful careers in country music. She was married first to honky-tonk singer Carl Smith from July 9, 1952, until their divorce in 1956. They had a daughter, Rebecca Carlene Smith, professionally known as Carlene Carter, a country musician. June’s second marriage was to Edwin “Rip” Nix, a former football player, police officer, and racecar driver, on November 11, 1957. They had a daughter, Rosie, on July 13, 1958. The couple divorced in 1966. Carter and the entire Carter Family had performed with Johnny Cash for several years. In 1968, Cash proposed to Carter during a live performance at the London Ice House in London, Ontario. They married on March 1 in Franklin, Kentucky, and remained married until her death in May 2003, just four months before Cash died.
Reba McEntire – Path Paver for Female Country Singers
Reba is a well known and the most successful country music artist of her time and often regarded as a role model for those who want to follow country music. Reba is a Grammy Award winner and received the Kennedy Center Honors for her unforgettable contributions towards country music.
Her album’ My Kind of Country’ brought her immense fame. She has also been the best female vocalist for four executive years. Since 2017, McEntire has been in a relationship with photographer Anthony “Skeeter” Lasuzzo. The couple met through McEntire’s association with Kix Brooks. In describing her feelings about Lasuzzo, she stated, “We’re totally in love — absolutely,” she says. “I wouldn’t put up with somebody for two years if I wasn’t in love with ’em!”
Emmylou Harris – Queen of Country Rock
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Emmylou has numerous singles and albums throughout her career and bagged 14 Grammy awards. She collaborated with multiple artists and also performed solo. Emmylou Harris began her singing career in folk and folk-rock. At first, she covered other artists. A folk-rock band called The Flying Burrito Brothers then met Emmylou Harris and introduced her to a former band member, who was looking for a female singer to collaborate with on his debut classic country album. Emmylou Harris then found her way into classic country music.
Regarded as the Queen of country rock, she worked beyond country music, relying on a rock, folk, and pop. Her breakthrough songs, ‘Sweet Dreams,’ ‘If I Could Only Win Your Love,’ and ‘One of these days’ have made their everlasting impact on her fans.
Patty Loveless – Rising from the Honky Tonk
Patty emerged on the country music landscape in 1986 with her album ‘Loveless.’ Her niche was bluegrass and country-pop. She made her way through honky-tonk to sentimental ballads and country-rock. Her voice had a lonesome tone that was familiar to the Bluegrass area. Patty is considered as a neotraditional country singer who can do justice with classics. Her contemporary style music hits such as ‘Chains’ and ‘Timber,’ ‘I’m Falling in Love’ won her much appreciation.
At the age of 18, Patricia Lee married Wilburn Brothers’ drummer, Terry Lovelace, without her parents’ consent. The pair moved to Kings Mountain in North Carolina and began performing with him there. The pair divorced in 1985.
Patricia Lee married Emory Gordy Jr in February 1989, although both kept it a secret for a year and a half. They tied the knot in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Emory had children from the previous marriage; the couple now lives in Dallas, Georgia.
The Dixie Chicks – The Powerful Trio
Dixie Chicks was a band composed of 4 artists which later reduced to 3 (all sisters) and rose to fame with their hits ‘Wide Open Spaces’ and ‘There’s Your Trouble’ in 1998. The band started off with bluegrass and country music and achieved commercial success with her hit numbers.
The band were heavily criticized for their comment during one of their concerts against Bush’s policy towards Iraq. The group went into a hiatus but soon returned with much fervor. Their controversial song ‘Goodbye Earl’ rose to fame due to the black comedy. Dixie Chicks were the subject of a 2006 documentary film, Shut Up and Sing, directed by Academy Award-winning director Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck. The film documents the trio over the three year period following Natalie Maines’ public criticism of George W. Bush.
Alison Krauss – The Angelic
Growing up, Alison was familiar with all major music genres, such as folk, pop, opera, and rock, but found her niche in bluegrass. Her association with music started at the age of 5 when she began playing the violin and won many contests. Despite her respected status among critics and fans, Krauss has only managed to earn a single number one hit over the course of her career. Her only chart-topper was 2000’s “Buy Me a Rose,” on which she was a featured artist alongside Kenny Rogers and Billy Dean.
The 27 times Grammy Awards winner has had a flair for bluegrass and country style, she has collaborated with rock artists as well. Alison is known to have an angelic voice that couples well with the sad, soul-stirring songs she mostly sings. To add to Krauss’ long list of accomplishments, she is also an honorary doctor! The Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts awarded Krauss with an Honorary Doctorate of Music in 2012.
Shania Twain – She is still the one
Canadian born singer and songwriter, Shania rose to fame with her album ‘The Woman in Me’ and subsequently her third album ‘Come on Over,’ which became bestselling album by a female artist. Shania’s love for music can be traced back to her childhood when she started singing at the age of 3 and wrote her first song at the age of 10. Her music embeds country and pop music culture. She is known as one of the best female artists in the history of country music and sold over 100 million records worldwide. Shania has been a vegetarian for years.
In 2001, she was the first person to be named PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity. Twain is a devotee of the Eastern spiritual movement Sant Mat, which emphasizes the importance of daily meditation and abstinence from drugs and alcohol. According to a 2009 University of Toronto study, Twain has a perfect face. The calculations are based on the precise distance between facial features. In 2004 Shania made a rare guest appearance in the film “I Heart Huckabees” opposite Jude Law and Jason Schwartzmann.
Lee Ann Womack – Widely Acknowledged, Crossover Artist
As a child, Womack studied the piano and later graduated from Jacksonville High School in 1984. She studied at the college until 1990, leaving Belmont University a year before graduation. Lee rose to fame with her smashing commercial hit ‘I Hope You Dance’ in 2000, which made her retain a top position on the Billboard Country Chart. She started off as a crossover artist and is known to have a blend of contemporary and old-fashioned elements in her music. She also exhibited pop music elements in her album ‘I Hope You Dance.’
After experimenting with a genre other than country music, she felt the need to connect to her old, traditional country music fans and with her album ‘The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone,’ she made a comeback into her traditional country music role and wishes to be known for her vocal chops. Her Song I Hope You Dance reached No. 1 on the Billboard Country chart for five weeks and crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, becoming a major crossover Pop hit, reaching No. 14. It also peaked at the top spot on the adult contemporary chart and even reached the UK Singles Charts, peaking at No. 40.
Tanya Tucker – She Ain’t Going Down the Charts
Tanya was a born country artist who rose to success at the age of 13 with her first single, ‘Delta Dawn.’ She remained in the country music scene for almost 5 decades and is known for connecting with her audience, unlike other singers. Tanya Tucker dated country star Glenn Campbell from 1980-1981. They recorded a few songs together, most notably being a cover of Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover”.
She was labeled as an Outlaw artist who merged rock and country style music, a genre that was famous during those times. One of her achievements is that she continued with country music from her childhood days to adulthood and retained her audience with her work. Her other hits such as ‘What’s Your Mama’s Name,’ ‘Lizzie and the ‘Rainman, and ‘Blood Red and Goin’ Down’ are some of her top-charting songs during the 1970s.
Trisha Yearwood – Critically Acclaimed Country Artist
Wearing many hats, the Georgia based actress, country music artist, celebrity chef, and author, Trisha has successfully contributed towards country music by giving her first debut song, ‘She’s in Love with the Boy’ in 1991. Her fans enjoyed many of her hits in the 1990s, including ‘The Song Remembers When,’ ‘Believe Me, Baby,’ and ‘Walkaway Joe.’
Her album ‘Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love’ has been critically acclaimed, and her diversified music style is often a reflection of her personal experiences. Cooking has been her passion these past few years, but music is where her heart is. “If you asked me to pick between cooking and music, I’d definitely pick music. I feel like it’s what I’m supposed to do,” she says. “But I’m not giving up one to do the other. I hope I never have to pick.”
Miranda Lambert – Charismatic and Talented
Miranda, the Texas-based country music songwriter, and singer received huge applause for her debut album ‘Kerosene’ in 2005 and second album ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ in 2007. She is well known to have co-written songs of her album. She is an amalgamation of charisma and talent and is often associated with Dolly Parton.
She was the first-ever Country Living cover girl! Lambert joined as guest editor for the June 2015 issue to share her essentials for life in the country. “I’ve been a Country Living reader for as long as I can remember,” she told in the interview. “Every time I’m on my tour bus and I flip through the magazine, I can’t wait to get home to try some new idea.”
Linda Ronstadt – The Arena Class Rock Star
Born in Arizona in 1946, Linda Ronstadt began performing with the Stone Poneys in the 1960s before finding success as a solo artist. Her breakout 1974 album, Heart Like a Wheel, earned her the first of 12 Grammy Awards. Linda was celebrated for her ability to adapt to a diverse range of styles, delivering albums that featured country, rock, jazz and Spanish-language classics. In 2013, Ronstadt revealed that she could no longer sing because of the effects of Parkinson’s disease. She also published her memoir Simple Dreams that year. Linda is a multi-faceted singer who has not only sung country music but also contributed to light opera, rock, and Latin. She has earned 10 Grammy awards, among others, for her albums that gained massive success not only in the USA but internationally as well.
She collaborated with artists from different genres, such as Dolly Parton, Paul Simon, Gram Parsons, etc. Her styles were heavily influenced by her family’s music choices, which included Mexican and traditional pop. Her genre-crossing music style was criticized by many. However, this never prevented her from using rhythms of ranchera music along with the country genre. Her blockbuster country song, ‘Silver Threads and Golden Needles,’ won international recognition.
Bobbie Gentry – Gone Too Soon!
With less than two decades of her career, Bobbie enchanted the country with her ‘Ode to Billie Joe’, an intriguing, gothic style track. Bobby was known to write and sing her own songs. ‘Fancy,’ her Grammy-nominated album touched upon issues of women’s equality and became an instant success.
Her 1969 hit Fancy, recorded with Rick Hall in Muscle Shoals, seemed autobiographical. Gentry never said as much, but the sassy story of a girl who “might have been born just plain white trash but Fancy was my name … and I ain’t done bad” sounded like a sly confession-cum-celebration. ‘Touch ‘Em with Love’ was her critically acclaimed album, which became a hit in the UK. However, this soaring country artist suddenly disappeared from the music scene in the 1980s, and the reason is unknown. Her songs still don’t fail to amuse country music listeners.
Jean Shepard – The Realistically Rebellious
The honky-tonk songwriter and singer who is known for her daring attempt to surpass the societal impression of being an uncouth woman at times when it was not common for women to perform in bars. She sang a duet with Ferlin Husky called, ‘A Dear John Letter’ which became an instant hit in 1953, and she had become the first female country singer to record this best-selling song. Jean is a pioneer in opening doors for women to enter country music. Be it the realistic and thoughtful ‘A Satisfied Mind’ or heart-breaking ‘Slippin’ Away,’ Jean’s legacy will remain as long as the country music genre remains.
Jean was married to Benny Birchfield, a musician, singer, and a member of Nashville’s music community. In 1960, she married fellow Opry star Hawkshaw Hawkins, who had come to the Opry the same year she did. She was eight months pregnant with his son when Hawkins died in the 1963 plane crash that also killed Patsy Cline and country star Cowboy Copas. Jean died on September 25, 2016, at the age of 82.
Mary Chapin Carpenter – Enriching, Country Artist
An American songwriter and singer, Mary rose to success in 1992 with her album ‘Come On Come On,’ which received certified, quadruple platinum status in the US. She dwelled upon political and societal issues in her songs. She is said to have no just influences of folk and country but also used sitar and backward guitar loops; all of which was not commonly seen among the country singers.
She wrote a column for the Washington Times from December of 2008 until March of 2009. Whereby Mary gave subtle ballads on societal issues, she also exhibited joy through her faced-paced songs. She had a style of her own; not dependent on a flashy wardrobe or sentimental performance. Her songs were enriched and would grow on listeners with time.
Rosanne Cash – A Country Singer by Birth
Born to a famous country artist, Rosanne was always part of the country music by accompanying her father on his musical tours. She inherited the love for country music from her father and making her way from the background singer, she gave many hits including the ambiguous yet gold status winner ‘Seven Year Ache.’ In 1978 she took a break from school to record a demo with producer Rodney Crowell, a songwriter for famed country musician Emmylou Harris. Their work relationship soon blossomed into a romantic one, and Cash and Crowell began dating soon after the demo was finished.
Her critically acclaimed album ‘Black Cadillac’ released in 2006 is influenced by her parents’ death in a car crash. Cash was again nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album. Also in 2006, documentary filmmaker Steve Lippman created Mariners and Musicians, based on the album and interviews with Rosanne Cash. The film debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Carrie Underwood – From American Idol to Country Artist
The seven-time Grammy award winner, Carrie has had a rocking career since she topped American Idol in 2015. Carrie is a multi-media superstar who has given multiple hits, including the revengeful, moderate tempo-based ‘Before He Cheats,’ which became her only certified song in the United Kingdom.
Her other inspirational, superhit song ‘Jesus, Take the Wheel’ became an instant hit and remained on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for six weeks. Here are a couple of fun facts about Carrie: At 26, Carrie was the youngest artist to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Prior to American Idol, Carrie had never been on an airplane. Carrie’s fans are affectionately known as Carrie’s Care Bears. She’s a big fan of horror stories. Stephen King’s Christine inspired her video for “Two Black Cadillacs.” Carrie stopped eating meat at 13. In 2005, PETA named her “World’s Sexiest Vegetarian.”
Faith Hill – Star of the Hollywood Fame of Walk
A multitalented pop and country music artist, Faith rose to fame with her debut ‘Take Me As I AM’ in 1993, which became a blockbuster along with her second album ‘It Matters to Me’ after two years. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill tied the knot in 1996 after falling in love when Hill — who was engaged to someone else at the time — was the opening act on McGraw’s Spontaneous Combustion tour. “From the first time we met, I knew (she didn’t!) that she was the love of my life forever…. no matter the ups and downs, the happy and sad or the good and bad,” he wrote on Instagram in September 2018.
Faith continued producing award-winning and successful songs such as ‘This Kiss’ and ‘There You’ll Be,’ the soundtrack of Pearl Harbor. Faith is among the list of 30 most powerful women in America and will be featured with a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Shake a leg with Wanda Jackson
Known as the First Lady of Rockability, Wanda wears multiple hats. A country singer, pianist, songwriter, and pianist, she embedded rock and roll music elements into contemporary country music, and even now, at the age of 80, she is alive and kicking, touring around the world with her performances.
In times when female country artists wore traditional clothes, Wanda performed in high heels with fringed dresses and big earrings. She gave many hit singles, including the emotionally-rich ‘Tears Will Be the Chaser for You.’ At age 73, Jackson mounted a comeback with the album The Party Ain’t Over (2011), which was produced by Jack White of the White Stripes, and she followed that with Unfinished Business (2012). She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
Martina McBride – The Top Female Vocalist
Born in Kansas in 1966, country singer Martina McBride got her big break when Garth Brooks, for whom her husband worked on a sound crew, gave her an opening slot on his concert tour in 1990. She became highly successful, and her songs topped country charts for the next fifteen years. Known as Celine Dion of country music, Martina is a multiple Grammy award-winning vocalist who has is also known for her philanthropic work for women facing domestic violence.
Her notable, double meaning song, ‘Independence Day,’ is a heartfelt story of a woman gaining freedom from her abusive husband. Strangely, this song was released on USA’s Independence Day. The three-time winner of the ‘Top Female Vocalist’ award has left an everlasting influence on country music.
Critically Acclaimed Country Artist – Lucinda Williams
Lucinda Williams, (born January 26, 1953, Lake Charles, Louisiana, U.S.), American singer and songwriter who received critical acclaim for her label-defying music, which ranged from folk to country to rock. Lucinda was named America’s best songwriter by Times Magazine, Lucinda’s name will always be remembered for influencing the course of country music. She is well-known for introducing rock music to the conventional country style and has contributed towards blues and folk too.
In 1998 she released her critically acclaimed, contemporary folk song, ‘Car Wheels on Gravel Road,’ which became her breakthrough number and ranked on most critic’s top-ten lists. A second double album, The Ghosts of Highway 20, appeared in 2016. She reworked the songs of Sweet Old World to good effect for This Sweet Old World (2017).
Country Music Hall of Fame – Dottie West
The first Grammy award-winning female singer of her times, Dottie West, rose to country stardom during the mid-1970s despite being a country singer-songwriter since the 1960s. She did quite a few duets with Kenny Rogers, including the revengeful-heartbreaking love number, “A Lesson in Leavin’.
In 1971, Dottie West left her first husband Bill and went ahead and remarried the following year. She tied the knot to Byron Metcalf, a drummer. Metcalf was 12 years younger than Dottie. She divorced him again in 1980. Three years later, she married for the third time this time to her sound man (Al Winters). Known for her body-hugging spandex and shimmering outfits, Dottie died in an unfortunate car accident, but her legacy continued, and in 2018, she was featured in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Top Ten Smasher – Connie Smith
With her first single as a blockbuster, Connie Smith, the Ohio based, legendary country singer, came into the spotlight in 1964. Though she remained quite underrated as compared to other emerging artists of her times, she was the first country singer whose romantic-heartbreaking themed single, ‘Once A Day’ remained on top of the country charts for eight weeks. Connie remained on the top charts for a decade after which, she stepped back from the limelight.
Smith has been married four times. In 1961, she married Jerry Smith, a ferro analyst at the Inter-Lake Iron Corporation in Beverly, Ohio. In the mid-1960s, the couple divorced, and Smith married the guitarist in her touring band, Jack Watkins. They had a son, Kerry Watkins, before separating nearly a year after marrying. Shortly afterward, Smith married telephone repairman Marshall Haynes. In the early 1970s, Haynes frequently toured with Connie on her roadshow. The couple had three daughters: Jeanne, Julie, and Jodi Haynes. After divorcing Haynes in the early 1990s, Smith stated that she would never marry again. However, on July 8, 1997, she did get married for the fourth time, this time to her producer, country artist Marty Stuart.
Pam Tillis – Lively and Romantic Country Numbers
Daughter of the highly prolific, Mel Tillis made her first debut in Grand Ole Opry at the age of eight. Having grown up in Nashville, Pam followed her father’s footsteps in creating and proving her own mettle in the country music industry. Her first debut album, ‘Put yourself in my place’ released in 1983, made its way into the top country albums charts.
And she carved her own niche with the three, Top 10 hits including the sophisticated and romantic, southern tune; ‘Maybe It Was Memphis’ and rebellious, breakthrough hit, ‘Don’t Tell Me What to Do.’ Pam remains one of the most prominent country artists whose lively songwriting and commanding voice won her many accolades. In 2013, Tillis teamed with Lorrie Morgan for the Dos Divas album. The pair released a second album, Come See Me And Come Lonely, in 2017.
Kentucky’s Country Music Duo – The Judds
During the 1980s, the American music industry was heavily influenced by male artists. It was not until 1983 when a country music, mother and daughter duo of Wynonna and Naomi Judd appeared on the musical charts.
The Kentucky based duo gave out many number 1 hits and bagged 8 CMA awards for their songs up until 1991. Whether it is ‘GrandPa,’ their No 1. Ranking, tradition-oriented song, or the joyful and upbeat Grammy award winner, weekend number, ‘Girls Night Out’; the Judds remain as the most influential and contributing country music duo. In October 2017, The Judds reunited in order to appear at the “All in for the Gambler” concert, the final Nashville concert by Kenny Rogers which took place at the Bridgestone Arena and featured performances by many of Rogers’ friends. Wynonna sang “You Turn The Light On” before Naomi joined her to perform “Back to the Well”.