Spotlight: Country Music’s Most Influential Women

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By Molly Spining

Sunday, March 8 marked International Women’s Day, a celebration of women’s economic, political and social achievements throughout history. Many celebrities participated via social media campaigns using hashtags #WomensDay,#NotThere and #InternationalWomensDay. In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we’re spotlighting some of the most powerful, inspirational and talented ladies of country music.

Maybelle Carter – Best known as a member of the Carter Family and mother of June Carter Cash, Carter paved the way for female musicians. She became famous for her unique guitar playing called “scratch” style. Carter and her family popularized Appalachian folk music.

Kitty Wells

Country music legend Kitty Wells was inducted into the Country Hall of Fame in 1976.

Kitty Wells – Nicknamed the Queen of Country Music, Wells gained popularity after her hit, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” topped country charts. In 1991, she received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Patsy Cline – In 1957, Cline’s hit “Walkin’ After Midnight” made her the first crossover pop-country artist. She was the first woman in country music to headline her own show and perform at Carnegie Hall. Like Taylor Swift, Cline also believed in encouraging and supporting her group of girl friends, such as Loretta Lynn, Dottie West and Barbara Mandrell.


Dottie West – Much like Cline, West performed in a male-dominated environment, but her breakout hit, “Here Comes My Baby,” brought her much deserved respect when she became the first female country artist to win a Grammy award. She later switched up her conservative image in favor of becoming a successful crossover pop artist.

Tammy Wynette – Often called the “First Lady of Country Music,” Wynette ruled the country music scene in the ’70s (along with Loretta Lynn). She earned two Grammy awards for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her controversial, yet heartfelt singles, “Stand By Your Man” and “I Don’t Wanna Play House.”

Dolly Parton

Watch Great American Country’s encore presentation of Backstory: Dolly Parton on April 17 at 10/9c.

Dolly Parton – It’s hard to deny Parton’s impact not only on country music, but the entire music industry. Her humble beginnings and bubbly personality make her lovable, relatable and iconic.

Loretta Lynn – Like her contemporary, Tammy Wynette, Lynn pushed the boundaries of country music. She recorded songs about birth control, marriage infidelity and the Vietnam War.

Emmylou Harris – The folk-rock-Americana singer won 13 Grammy awards (so far) and collaborated with Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Linda Ronstadt and many more. Her Grammy award-winning, breakthrough album, Elite Hotel, topped country charts.

Reba McEntire – Reba McEntire doesn’t slow down. Over her 40+ years career, she released 28 gold, platinum or multi-platinum albums and sold more than 85 million records worldwide. She often cites Kitty Wells and Patsy Cline as influences.

Shania Twain – Embarking on the final stage (pun intended) of her musical career, Twain begins her last tour on June 5 this year. But she won’t leave the country music scene as one-hit wonder. The best-selling female country artist won three Grammy awards for her album “Come On Over,” which firmly established her as a successful pop-country crossover artist.