5 Legendary Women of Country Music

Celebrate the queens of country music and challenge stereotypes! Learn about the success and contributions of the legendary women of country music now.

Legendary Women of Country Music

The Legendary Women of Country Music

The role of women in country music has been essential since the genre’s inception. From Patsy Cline to Miranda Lambert, women have been telling stories of heartache, resilience, and everyday life and carving out their place in a male-dominated industry.

Early pioneers of country music, such as The Carter Family and Kitty Wells, paved the way for future generations of women in the genre. They used their platform to challenge gender roles and stereotypes and to give voice to women’s experiences. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s and ’70s that female artists began to achieve mainstream success in country music.

Women’s role in country music has been crucial for its success and longevity. Although male artists dominate the genre, female artists’ contributions can’t be ignored or underestimated.

Queens of Country Music

Country music is a genre that has long been associated with storytelling, heartbreak, and the human experience. And while many male artists have made a name for themselves in the genre, it is the women, the Queens of Country Music, who have truly defined it.

From Patsy Cline to Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn to Shania Twain, these women have not only carved a path for future generations of female country singers but have also become cultural icons in their own right.

Kitty Wells

Kitty Wells, born Muriel Ellen Deason, was an American country music singer and songwriter. She is known as the “Queen of Country Music” and is considered one of the genre’s most influential artists. Wells was the first female artist to achieve significant commercial success in country music.

Kitty Wells challenged the prevailing belief in country music that women couldn’t sell records or headline shows. Her success broke down barriers and opened doors for other female artists to be signed by record companies.

Wells’ breakthrough hit was “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” released in 1952. The song was a response to a controversial statement made by a male country music artist who blamed women for the prevalence of infidelity in honky-tonk bars. The song was a hit and became the first number-one country hit by a solo female artist. Wells continued to release hit songs throughout the 1950s and 1960s, solidifying her place in country music history.

Learn how to play “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”

Wells was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1976 and was recognized with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991, becoming the first female country singer to receive the honor.

She was also nominated for a Grammy in 1989 for her collaboration on the “Honky-Tonk Angels Medley” with k. d. lang, Brenda Lee, and Loretta Lynn, cementing her status as a country music icon. With 35 Billboard Top Ten records and 81 charted singles, Kitty Wells was a standout female country star in her era. In 1968, she even had her syndicated TV show.

Patsy Cline

Patsy Cline’s legacy as one of country music’s most iconic voices lives on, even decades after her untimely death in a plane crash. She broke through in the early 1960s with hits like “Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces,” and her powerful voice and emotional delivery influenced countless artists to come.

“Crazy” was written by Willie Nelson and became one of Patsy Cline’s biggest hits in 1961. The song, a melancholy ballad about unrequited love, became one of her signature songs.

Learn how to play “Crazy”

  • Chords: C-C7-F-G-G7-Am-A7-Dm-Dm7-D7-Em
  • Strumming Pattern: Root – DOWN- Up, Root – DOWN- Up

To quickly master a song with multiple chords, focus on practicing one section at a time.

Patsy Cline was the first female country artist inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. She has been a source of inspiration for numerous singers and is often regarded as a benchmark for female vocalists.

Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn’s genuine songs about ordinary life experiences, love, and heartbreak earned her admiration and respect as one of the most beloved country music singers. Hits like “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)” spoke directly to women and their experiences, and Lynn’s trailblazing spirit helped set the stage for future generations of female artists.

“Coal Miner’s Daughter” is a biographical song written by Loretta Lynn in 1970, chronicling her childhood in rural Kentucky. The song became one of her most famous and beloved hits and was later adapted into a memoir and an acclaimed film.

Learn how to play “Coal Miner’s Daughter”

Chord Progression: 

  • D G D, D E A
  • D G D, D A D

Key Changes: D → D# → E

Strumming Pattern: down – DOWN – down – DOWN

The song changes key twice, first from D to D# and then finally to E. If you’re a beginner, it may be easier to stick with the key of D until you master the chord progression before attempting to play the song in the keys of D# and E.

Loretta Lynn made history in 1972 when she was awarded the CMA’s Entertainer of the Year, the first woman to receive the prestigious award. She was later elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988.

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton’s infectious personality and incredible talent have made her a country music icon. Her songs, including hits like “Jolene” and “9 to 5,” have become part of the fabric of American culture, and her philanthropic work has endeared her to fans around the world.

“Jolene,” released in 1973, is one of Dolly Parton’s most famous and enduring hits. The song, a plaintive plea to a woman who threatens to steal her husband, showcases Parton’s vocals and songwriting skills.

Learn how to play “Jolene”

  • Capo 4
  • Chord Progression – Am C G Am, G G Am Am
  • Strumming Pattern – D D UDU

After Dolly Parton’s first solo #1 hit with her own composition “Joshua” in 1971, she went on to achieve three more #1 songs in 1974: “Jolene,” “Love Is Like a Butterfly,” and “I Will Always Love You.”

She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999 and has won numerous awards, including 11 Grammy Awards, 10 Country Music Association Awards, and 3 American Music Awards.

Reba McEntire

Reba McEntire’s powerful voice and stage presence have made her one of the most enduring and beloved figures in country music. She has had numerous hits throughout her career, including “Fancy,” “Does He Love You,” and “Turn on the Radio,” and has also ventured into acting, with roles on TV shows like “Reba” and “Young Sheldon.”

  • The song “Fancy,” originally written and recorded by Bobbie Gentry in 1969, was covered by Reba McEntire in 1990. The lyrics follow the journey of a young woman who rises from poverty to become a successful courtesan. McEntire’s version of the song surpassed the original on the country music charts, reaching the Top Ten on Billboard’s Hot Country Hits in 1991.
  • Does He Love You” is a duet performed by Reba McEntire and Linda Davis and was written by Sandy Knox and Billy Stritch. The song was released in 1993 and became a major hit for both artists. It tells the story of two women in love with the same man, with one questioning whether he truly loves her or the other woman more.

The song earned McEntire and Davis a Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Collaboration and was a commercial success, reaching number one on the Billboard Country chart. The song’s powerful vocals and emotional lyrics have made it a beloved classic in the country music genre.

  • Turn on the Radio” is a song recorded by Reba McEntire as the lead single for her 34th studio album “All the Women I Am,” released in 2010. The song was written by Cherie Oakley, Mark Oakley, and J.P. Twang and produced by Dann Huff. It reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 2011, becoming Reba’s twenty-fifth No. 1 hit on the chart. The song’s lyrics are about a woman who has just broken up with her partner and features an upbeat tempo and a catchy chorus making it a popular choice for fans of Reba’s music.

Learn how to play “Turn On The Radio”

Guitar Tabs

The strumming pattern is mostly downstrokes with occasional upstrokes to add emphasis.

Reba McEntire has been a prominent figure in country music since the 1970s, with over 100 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, 25 of which have reached number one. She holds the record for the number-one country albums by a female artist and has earned more than fifty Top Ten singles. 

McEntire’s contributions to the music industry have earned her three Grammy Awards, and in 2018, she received the Kennedy Center Honors in recognition of her lifetime achievements.

She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011 and has been named CMA Female Vocalist of the Year four times. With over 75 million records sold worldwide, McEntire is one of the best-selling country music artists.

Long Live the Queens!

The queens of country music have certainly changed the game for decades, and their impact is undeniable. Their ability to tell compelling stories through their music and inspire audiences has made them legends in the industry.

Queens of Country Music

They have proven that country music is not just a man’s world but a genre that celebrates the triumphs and struggles of women. Their influence can still be heard in the music of today’s country stars, and their legacies continue to inspire and empower women around the world.

Long live the queens, who will always reign supreme in country music.

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