From country anthems to revengeful ballads, these female country singers made an impactful mark in music history. Tish Hinojosa to Kimmie Rhodes are just a few names who contributed their talents in this regard – each trailblazer had something meaningful to say that resonated with country music audiences everywhere.
Years have gone by with women in country music being told they are just the tomatoes on an otherwise all-male salad, yet they refused to remain silent.
Patsy Cline remains one of the most acclaimed female country singers ever. With her powerful contralto voice and early success making honky-tonks viable career venues for women artists, Cline quickly rose to legendary status within country music history before she tragically perished on March 5, 1963 in a plane crash near Camden Tennessee. Although her life may have been cut short by this legendary status and death at 41, Cline remains an influential figure within it today.
Cline began her recording career in 1960 with Four Star Records but soon gained regional renown due to her hillbilly-with-oomph act and later Grand Ole Opry radio broadcasts from Nashville, Tennessee. Under producer Owen Bradley at Decca she found success and soon had hits such as “Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces”, becoming an iconic female country singer of all time.
She’s had a profound effect on modern female country singers like Trisha Yearwood, Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde as well as Kd Lang, Alicia Keys and Laura Cantrell – and her legacy will live on.
Tammy Wynette was one of the most celebrated female country stars and a tireless champion for women’s rights and equality. Her song, “Stand by Your Man”, became one of country music’s biggest hits ever and earned her three consecutive CMA Female Vocalist of the Year awards between 1968-1970. Additionally, she was honored with induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Wynette enjoyed a successful, multi-decade career that included hit singles and chart-topping albums, winning numerous awards along the way and performing duets with Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn for their 1975 album Honky Tonk Angels. Additionally, she married twice more — initially businessman Michael Tomlin in 1976 (for 44 days only) before having one child with songwriter George Richey before divorcing him after giving birth.
Wynette’s meteoric rise to stardom reads like an old-fashioned country fairytale, yet her first marriage with Euple Byrd was far from secure, often living on the brink of poverty and working at a Birmingham beauty salon as she sang on “Country Boy Eddie”, while also raising her three children.
Tanya Tucker is one of the most beloved figures in country music, having cemented her place in history with her 1972 single, “Delta Dawn.” Since then she has gone on to win numerous awards throughout her storied career – inspiring generations of country musicians through her talent and genre-defining voice.
Tucker initially faced some struggles in her early career despite her success, including divorce from actor Beau Bridges and being labeled by some critics as a has-been following MCA’s failed album released under their label in 1975. By late 1988 she found her stride, scoring eight country top ten hits and earning gold certification from RIAA.
Tucker became an iconic queer figure long before Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves began appearing at GLAAD events, due to her nonconformist spirit and refusal to conform. Her refusal paved the way for Gretchen Wilson and Miranda Lambert among many other female country stars to thrive professionally; her refusal was one of many factors responsible for shaping their careers. Resiliency and compassion can be seen throughout Tucker’s work: Color Me Country Radio on Apple Music was established to support black, LGBTQIA+, indigenous country artists while she has also advocated for equal pay and opportunities within country music’s industry – both endeavors were endeavors by her as she created Color Me Country Radio as an ongoing radio platform to support black artists while fighting against gender inequality within country music’s country music industry.
Miranda Lambert has long been recognized for her talent and impact on country music by fans, industry professionals, and other artists alike – yet what sets her apart from most is her strong belief in protecting the Second Amendment. Working alongside various country artists across her career span, Miranda has had several top hits which reached number one on charts worldwide.
Born and raised in Lindale, Texas, Lambert began singing and composing songs at a very early age. Inspired by both mainstream country stars as well as outlaw-style artists like Merle Haggard, Lambert decided to graduate early from high school and embark upon her musical journey full-time. Nashville Star’s auditions provided her with her big break – which ultimately resulted in her performing on its USA Network broadcast version!
Lambert has earned numerous awards over her long career, such as multiple Grammys and Academy of Country Music Awards. Additionally, she’s best known for forming The Pistol Annies along with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley; their vibrant performances and emotive lyrics have cemented their place among country music’s greatest female artists ever; her sensuous songs and playful performances set them apart from prior country performers with prim collars.
Women of country music have had an enormous influence on its development – from pioneers like Bessie Carter to modern hit-makers Miranda Lambert, Ashley McBryde and Maren Morris. Through their captivating stories and voices they have left an enduring legacy rooted in American culture that endures.
Connie Smith became one of the most influential female country singers when she burst onto the scene with Bill Anderson-penned hit, “Once A Day”. Hailing from North Dakota, Smith boasted one of the strongest voices of her era and would continue releasing albums throughout her career into the 1980s – also becoming an activist for women’s rights during that time.
Loretta Lynn was another iconic female country singer who rose from poverty to become one of its legends with songs like the powerful and passionate “Coal Miner’s Daughter”. Not only was she an accomplished artist but she was also an advocate for female experience.
Reba McEntire has become one of the most iconic voices in country music thanks to her extraordinary vocal abilities and her willingness to express herself on subjects that range from abortion (“The Pill”), racism (“Fist City”) and divorce stigma (“Rated X”). These women also helped pave the way for newcomers such as LeAnn Rimes who made her debut with “Blue” at age 13 and has stayed in the limelight ever since.
Lee Ann Womack
Lee Ann Womack quickly made her mark in country music’s mainstream with her powerful vocals and style inspired by traditional Nashville songwriting. The Texan’s 1997 debut album included hardcore honky tonk gems like “Never Again, Again” and “The Fool,” placing her among legendary artists such as Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton as neo-traditionalists; yet her 2002 offering, Something Worth Leaving Behind demonstrated she could wring emotion out of more cross-over material as well.
Lee Ann Womack stands out in an industry dominated by men as an accomplished and versatile female vocalist with her emotive ballads about love gone wrong or three-minute epics that express an attraction that persists despite conventional wisdom, radiating passion through each note of her voice.
Her 2000 single “I Hope You Dance,” was a huge hit that cemented her place among the most successful country artists of the 1990s and ’00s. Written by Mark Sanders and Tia Sillers, this track shows off her ability to evoke feelings associated with longing for one’s significant other to return.
Olivia Newton-John first made waves among Americans when she appeared in Grease in 1978; the movie cemented her place in American pop culture history and made her an international star. Prior to appearing in Grease, Olivia appeared in beauty ads, television sitcom bits and Australian wildlife shows before winning Johnny O’Keefe’s talent contest hosted by Johnny O’Keefe; this ultimately led her to record rock albums such as Totally Hot and Physical before turning towards country music with Gaia: One Woman’s Journey released by Warner in 1989.
An early 2000s cancer scare forced her to postpone some concert dates while undergoing chemotherapy, yet she soon rebounded and released both Stronger Than Before: Life-affirming Songs to Raise Awareness of Breast Cancer (which features proceeds going directly towards raising awareness), and Grace and Gratitude: Healing Music Album.
She has performed in Australia and Japan and recorded a duet album with Pat Carroll – whom she met through a TV talent contest – a longtime producer and friend since 1974. Additionally, she made an appearance on Cliff Richard’s Two of a Kind show and remains active today as a goodwill ambassador; selling herbal health products through her foundation while raising funds for cancer centres near Melbourne.