Country music is a musical genre that traces its origins from the Southern parts of the United States in the 1920s. It draws most of its roots from other genres like folk music as well as blues. Over the years it has earned a lot in terms of followers and today it’s easily considered one of the most popular forms of music out there. When it comes to demographics many country music singers who have risen to the top of the genre are female and despite venturing in a field that is dominated by males, they have made a mark that cannot be ignored. While reviewing the most successful country music singers, you cannot afford to overlook women who decorated the genre with their beautiful voices.
Here are our picks the top 20 female country music singers of all time.
Born in March 1983, Carrie Underwood claims the first spot for the best country female singers of all time. She is an American songwriter and actress who has also been in country music and as many people have voted, she has a voice that cannot be compared to any other in the country music genre. She shot to fame when she won the American Idol in 2005, becoming the fourth winner. She released her debut album, Some Hearts, in 2005 and this came with a lot of success that was supported by singles like Before He Cheats and Jesus, Take the Wheel.
She would shortly rank as the best ever selling female debut album in the genre. Over the last 14 years, her album has retained the top spot as the best selling in country music and she won Grammy Awards thrice for the album. Carrie Underwood has sold over 65 million records and she is listed by Billboard as the reigning queen of Country Music.
Dolly Parton is an American multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, singer, record producer, actress, businesswoman, and author who is popularly known for her contribution in Country Music. After successfully establishing herself as a songwriter working for other artistes, Dolly Parton released her debut album Hello I’m Dolly in 1967. It quickly gained traction in sales and this saw her rise to fame for the remainder of 1960s. Her sales hit the roof in 1970s and continued to soar towards 1980s. She released subsequent albums in late 1990s, which although were lower in sales, have also been great selections of country music.
In the wake of millennium, she returned with tremendous success and ever since the 2000s she has done different albums on different labels including her label, Dolly Records. In the list of female country music singers, she is the most honored and has achieved Gold, Platinum, and several multi-platinum awards. 25 of her songs reached number 1 on the country music charts of Billboard.
Shania Twain is a Canadian songwriter and singer who has sold more than 100 million records. These sales ranked her as the best-selling female in country music and placed her among the top-selling music artists. Achieving this success earned her different titles among them Queen of Country Pop. Her second album which she released in 1995 titled The Woman In Me attracted widespread success and sold over 20 million copies.
She also clinched a Grammy Award from this album. The third album she released would become best-selling studio album ever done by a female act also doubling as a best-seller in country music. She has been awarded five Grammy Awards, got 27 BMI Songwriter awards, and she stands as the only female artist across the world to own three consecutive albums that were awarded a diamond certification.
Patsy Cline is a renowned American country singer who was born in 1932. She was among the most respected vocalists of the 20th century and she was popularly known for her beautiful tone and emotionally expressive voice. In country music, she was among the pioneers and even with her short career, she placed a mark that remains to date. Most female country singers who came after her drew motivation from her success and the way she did her music.
She supported women to ensure they appeared as headline performers in Country Music. Some of the hits that placed her in the limelight include I Fall to Pieces, Walkin’ After Midnight and Sweet Dreams. Since her death, millions of her albums have been bought and she was awarded accolades, something that triggered many to see her as a respectable icon in the level of Elvis Presley and Jim Reeves.
Martina McBride, born in July 1966, is an American singer-songwriter and country music icon who also featured as a producer. She is popular for her soprano as well as her material in her music. She signed to work with RCA Records in 1991 and released her debut in 1992 featuring the single The Time Has Come. Over the years, she has adopted pop-style crossover sound that can be compared to that of Faith Hill and Shania Twain. She has a list of several major hits that made it to Billboard country list and five of the singles clinched position one between 1995 and 2001. Many have referred to her as the country music’s Celine Dion due to her soprano and singing range.
Taylor Swift is among leading contemporary recording artists who have been doing narrative songs that touch on personal life. She is a singer-songwriter and has bagged several awards for different hits. Swift was born in Pennsylvania, where she also grew up. She relocated to Nashville, Tennessee at a young age of 14 years, and here she would continue to pursue her dream in music. She started doing country music and signed with Big Machine Records, something that would make her the youngest artist to ever work with the house.
Her debut album ranked position five on Billboard 200. Our Song, the third song on this album, positioned her as the youngest singer to single-handedly perform and write a position-one song that featured on Hot Country Songs chart. In 2008, she released her second album, Fearless, which was met with massive success that opened her to the wider limelight of the world. She has continued to release more music and her career is at the peak with her recent works.
Miranda Lambert has pursued a solo career in country music and has won many awards for her beautiful music. She appeared in Grammy Awards, Country Music Association Awards, and Academy of Country Music Awards. She released a debut album in 2005 titled Kerosene and this was certified Platinum across the United States. She also did singles including Me and Charlie Talking, New Strings, and Bring Me Down. All the three songs were listed on Billboard Hot Country Songs among top 40. She did her second album titled Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in 2007 and three of the songs in this album made it to the top 20 country songs list.
Born in 1955, Reba McEntire is a renowned American songwriter, actress, and record producer who began her career while in high school. She started with singing with the Kiowa High School band and attended different local shows where she further showcased her talent. She was also selected to perform the national anthem in Oklahoma City, something that attracted the attention of Red Steagall, a country music artist who took her to Nashville, Tennessee where she would sign a contract to sing under Mercury Records in 1975.
Her first solo album was released to the market in 1977 and she did five more studio albums with the same label up to 1983. Along her career, she has done 40 number one singles and 16 of her albums have also been listed top on the list. Additionally, 28 of her albums were certified multi-platinum, platinum, and gold. Some people even call her The Queen of Country.
Faith Hill is among the most successful artists in the genre country music after selling 40 million albums. She did her first album, Take Me As I Am in 1993 after which she recorded a second in 1995 titled It Matters to Me. These albums opened the doors for her success as they came out as major hits that elevated her in the world of country music. They brought her major success as they appeared on the first position on Billboard’s country chart. Her success extended to mainstream and crossover when she did her other two albums, Faith in 1998, and Breathe in 1999. They were best-selling albums and spawned her career worldwide from early 1998.
Linda Ronstadt is a country music singer who has won 1 Grammy Awards and two awards from Academy of Country Music. Most of the albums she did were certified Gold, Platinum and Multi-Platinum internationally. Linda was also awarded nominations to enter into Golden Globe and Tony Award. Overall, she did more than 30 studio albums and had 15 greatest hits. Additionally, she charted position 38 on Billboard Hot 100 and 21 of her songs reached the top 40. Her success continued to spread across the world particularly the UK where she had many sales for her single that also landed on the UK Top 40. Linda has collaborated with different artists including Billy Eckstine, Rosemary Clooney, Dolly Parton, Bettle Midler, and Philip Glass among many others.
Loretta Lynn came up as a country music singer-songwriter who bagged multiple awards for her gold albums during her career that spanned close to 60 years. She has earned accolades for the groundbreaking role she held as a pioneer in country music and this includes getting awarded by the Country Music Association for her performance as a duet partner as well as individual artist. She stands as the most awarded artist in female country music.
She also became the only ACM artist of 1970s. Through her music, Loretta Lynn shifted focus to addressing blue-collar challenges facing women and also did some music on themes about philandering husbands. She helped to shift boundaries in a genre that was considered conservative by addressing birth control and repeated childbirth as well as double standards.
Sara Evans saw her success as a country music artist with her eight albums. She did her first album, Three Chords and The Truth in 1997 while her second, No Place That Far came out in 1998. Of the eight albums she released, Born to Fly would become her best-selling after earning a double-platinum rating and she shipped two million copies. She has completed over 20 singles that have won slots on the Billboard Hot Country Songs list. Four other of her singles attained position one and there were also additional four that ranked top 10. She has had massive success with several of her singles clinging to the Billboard Hot 100 where she got seven entries in the Top 40 chart.
Born in 1947, Emmylou Harris is a songwriter, singer and musician who has done many renowned albums and singles during her career. She bagged 13 Grammys and several other awards including getting inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame. She did most of her projects as a solo artist and apart from this she also composed songs for others. Emmylou Harris has also teamed up with other successful artists including Dolly Parton, The Band, Ryan Adams, John Denver, Bob Dylan, and Don Williams to mention a few. In 1982, she moved to Nashville where she did several songs and worked with different artists. Her songwriting skills were highly sought after by many leading artists, with whom she also collaborated on some projects.
Tammy Wynette was a singer-songwriter and country music icon of American descent who appears among best-known female country music singers. She was referred to as the first lady in country music and her single Stand by Your Man is among best-selling singles done by a woman. Most of her hits addressed classic themes like loneliness, difficulties in life, and divorce. Between 1960 and 1970, Tammy Wynette had 20 of her songs making it to the number one position. She was also credited for standing up to define the role of women in the music industry. She also did a couple of singles that dominated the charts all through the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Alison Maria Krauss is a bluegrass-country singer born in 1971 who joined the music industry when she won several contests at the age of 10 years. She was signed by Rounder Records in 1985 and with the record she did her first solo album. She was later called to join the Alison Krauss and Union Station, a group she still performs with to date. With the group, she did her first album and collectively she has done 14 albums and showed up on different soundtracks. She also helped in the renewal of interest in bluegrass music across the United States. By 2016, Alison Krauss had won a total of 27 Grammy Awards and 42 Nominations, and this tied her with Quincy Jones to appear as most awarded recipient still living.
The emergence of Patty Loveless in country music happened in late 1986 when she did her first album, Loveless. She has been among the most popular country music female singers particularly in the nontraditional category. She has done different albums in bluegrass and country pop genres that have stood many awards. She shot to stardom due to her style of doing country-rock and emotional ballad style. She has earned over 40 cuts on Billboard and these include five of her albums going to position 1. Two of her albums have been given gold certification and since 1988 she has retained her membership with Grand Ole Opry. Patty Loveless was wife to Terry Lovelace and this is where she got her name Loveless from.
Born in 1982, LeAnn Rimes rose to fame at the young age of 13 years when she did her version of Blue, originally sang by Bill Mack. This made her the youngest country music star after Tanya Tucker. Her breakthrough in country music came when she released her debut album titled Blue, and this ranked position one among Top Country Albums chart. It also got a multi-platinum certification with sales hitting the roof. Its leadoff single also ranked among top 10 songs and this gave her national and international acclaim. She has bagged several awards including three ACMs, two Grammys, and 12 Billboard music awards. She was also awarded the American Music award and a CMA. Her vocals are something to adore and she has been among the most beautiful voices in country music.
Kellie Pickler is a television personality and a successful country music artist. She rose to fame when she appeared as a contestant of American Idol during the fifth season and she was able to finish in position six. In 2006, she was signed by 19 Recordings to work as a recording artist. She then released her debut album titled Small Town Girl which sold more than 900,000 copies. It was awarded a gold certification by RIAA and three of its singles made it to Hot Country Songs charts on the Billboard. In 2008, she released the second album which was self-titled, and this got four singles that won slots on Billboard. She started a daytime talk show (Picker & Ben) in September 2017. The show airs on CMT.
Also known for her voice on the problems facing young women, Trisha Yearwood has excelled as a singer, actress, author, and chef. Most music critics have referred to her as a strong and confident woman. Trisha earned fame when in 1991 she did her debut single titled She’s In Love With The Boy, which quickly rose to the first position. She has continually worked on looking for success and key acclaim and in total she has more than 10 studio albums which were able to claim position one. She recorded How Do I Love in 1997 that was used as the soundtrack of the movie Con Air. She also featured in duets with her husband which have become successful and as a country singer, she has sold over 15 million albums and bagged three Grammy Awards.
Born in 1948, Barbara Mandrell is an actress, singer and musician who is known for releasing a series of top country music hits. She also featured in TV shows in 1970s that boosted her career as a country music vocalist. She is a Grand Ole Opry member and the first of her songs to hit the Billboard was the song Sleeping Single in Double Bed produced in 1978s. She did several chart toppers in her career as it peaked in the ‘80s.