When it comes to the evolution and success of country music as a genre, there are quite a few women that deserve much of the credit. Styles have been shaped, stereotypes have been challenged, and legacies have been left behind while also opening the door for future female artists to continue on the tradition. Let’s take a look at some of the powerhouse women of country music.
It’s impossible to discuss the beginnings of country music without mentioning Patsy Cline. Though her music career was short lived due to her tragic death, the career she established from the late 1940s to the early 1960s is still very present today. Patsy Cline broke conventional roles with her uncommon, but entrancing, alto vocals. Her voice is recognizable in an instant and millions of fans still love her songs today including “Crazy,” “Walking After Midnight,” and “I Fall to Pieces.”
As a close companion and mentor, Patsy Cline groomed a new woman of country music to follow in her footsteps. Loretta Lynn was not only able to fill the shoes of her predecessor, but also find her own unique voice. That voice has earned her the title of most-awarded female artist in country music, and a career that has lasted for 60 years. Her songs are known for story-telling and highlighting aspects of a blue-collar life. Timeless favorites include “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man).”
The contribution of Dolly Parton in the world of country music can’t be overlooked as well. With an explosive brand that includes theme parks, film, philanthropy, and more, Dolly Parton has created a household name. Many of her original beloved songs have gained more exposure for other artists, like the Whitney Houston rendition of “I Will Always Love You.”
Shania Twain’s rise to stardom in country music was met with some controversy, but her perseverance and willingness to push the traditional boundaries and go outside the box has earned her millions of fans, countless awards, and a career that is still going strong. Shania Twain was the first woman to incorporate the pop musical style into her work with her “Up” album and is still performing today, including residencies in Las Vegas.
Though many fans have questioned whether her style is truly country or not, Taylor Swift lit a fire in the country music industry for not only young female artists but also for songwriters. She reinvented the typical trajectory for artists and proved that it’s possible to have success singing your own songs. With her first album released at a mere 16 years old, Taylor Swift allowed for an influx of new and younger fans. She has since built a worldwide empire in various genres, but her influences in country music remain evident.
Country music is ever changing and will hopefully always promote new female artists that preserve the adored qualities of the legends and carry them into the future while establishing their own unique voice.
Written by Aurora Keen