Women in Country Music

Patsy Cline is regarded as an all-time legend and was one of the first female country singers. Born Virginia Patterson Hensley on 8 September 1932 in Winchester Virginia, she broke into the country music world in 1957 with the song Walkin' After Midnight. Some of Cline's greatest hits included I Fall to Pieces, Crazy, She's Got You and Sweet Dreams. She died at the young age of 30 in an airplane crash in 1963.

Loretta Lynn was born 14 April 1935 in Kentucky. Just like Cline, Lynn was regarded as one of the most influential female country music singers in the business. She had her first hit in 1960 with the song Honky Tonk Girl. Lynn is also famous for songs such as You Ain't Women Enough (To Take My Man), Before I'm Over You and Coal Miner's Daughter.

Dolly Rebecca Parton, born January 19, 1946, is a singer-songwriter, actress and author. She is one of the most successful female country artists and is known as "The Queen of Country Music." Parton had 25 Number One singles and a record 41 Top 10 albums. Her greatest hits include Nine to Five, Here You Come Again, I Will Always Love You and the duet Islands in the Stream, which was performed with country music star Kenny Rogers.

Patty Loveless was born Patty Lee Ramey in Kentucky on 4 January 1957. Her first hit single in the country music world was Lonely Days and Lonely Nights in 1985. Her first album, which was called Patty Loveless, was released in 1986. Loveless is among the most popular female figures of the Neotraditional country movement. One of her contemporaries was Susan Kay "Suzy" Bogguss, who was born 30 December 1956 in Illinois. In the 1980s and 1990s she released one platinum and three gold albums and charted six Top 10 singles. Her songs include 20 Million Things, Chain Lover and Cross My Broken Heart.

Tammy Wynette, who was born Virginia Wynette Pugh in Itawamba County, Mississippi, in 1942, is best known for her hit song Stand By Your Man. She once said: "I spent 15 minutes writing Stand By Your Man, and a lifetime defending it." The song was the biggest selling single in the history of country music. Wynette was named Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year for three years in a row between 1968-1970.

Reba McEntire was born 28 March 1955 in Oklahoma. She had her first chart single in 1976 called I Don't Want To Be A One Night Stand. Her first album was called Reba McEntire and her second was Out of a Dream. Reba, who started performing when she was five, has enjoyed a successful country music career and was known as "the reigning queen of country music."

Other big country music stars include Shania Twain, who was born Eilleen Regina Edwards on 28 August 1965. Twain is a Canadian country pop singer and songwriter. She rose to fame with her 1995 album The Woman in Me, and achieved worldwide success with her 1997 album Come On Over, which became the best-selling album of all time by a female musician in any genre, as well as the best-selling country album of all time.

LeAnn Rimes, born 28 August 1982, is a singer known for her rich vocals, a songwriter, actress and author. Rimes rose to fame at the age of 13, becoming the youngest country music star since Tanya Tucker in 1972. Her debut album, Blue, reached Number One in the Top Country Albums chart and was certified "multi-platinum" in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America. Songs by Rimes include One Way Ticket (Because I Can), which was a Number One hit single in the country music charts.

Taylor Alison Swift, born 13 December 1989, is another leading country pop singer-songwriter, musician and actress. In 2006, she released her debut single Tim McGraw. Her self-titled debut album was certified multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Her second album, Fearless, earned Swift four Grammy Awards, including the Album of the Year. The majority of women in country music perform as solo artists, although some bands feature women singing together. The Dixie Chicks are a country music group composed of sisters Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Erwin Robison, along with lead singer Natalie Maines. They have won 13 prestigious Grammy Awards, including one for Album of the Year Taking the Long Way.

Women in Country Music: Selected full-text books and articles

Dolly Parton, Gender, and Country Music By Leigh H. Edwards Indiana University Press, 2018
America's Musical Pulse: Popular Music in Twentieth-Century Society By Kenneth J. Bindas Praeger, 1992
Librarian's tip: Chap. 21 "Women and Country Music"
All That Glitters: Country Music in America By George H. Lewis Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1993
Librarian's tip: Includes discussion of women in country music in multiple chapters
A Boy Named Sue: Gender and Country Music By Kristine M. McCusker; Diane Pecknold University Press of Mississippi, 2004
Women in Country Music Videos By Wilson, Janelle ETC.: A Review of General Semantics, Vol. 57, No. 3, Fall 2000
Sororophobia: Differences among Women in Literature and Culture By Helena Michie Oxford University Press, 1992
Librarian's tip: "'Mama He's Crazy': The Judds" begins on p. 89
Country Music Changed My Life: Tales of Tough Times and Triumph from Country's Legends By Ken Burke A Cappella, 2004
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