For every ‘Country Music King’ there is also a ‘Country Music Queen’. But unlike the King, the Queen is not as controversial, mainly because there is a recognized Queen for each generation. And just like the popular title of Miss Universe, these women pass the crown on to the next one who deserves it.
From American country singer trailblazer Kitty Wells who broke gender barriers for women in 1952 to trailblazer Loretta Lynn and trailblazers Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire, let’s meet them one by one.
What does it take to be country music royalty?
Before we dive right into the list, let’s first take a very quick look at these two questions: First, why do we have kings and queens in country music, and second, who are those who have legitimate rights to these thrones?
Country music has always helped keep the genre’s lineage alive by paying special tribute to singers who helped popularize the genre and reach larger audiences. And these royal nicknames, which have now formed a royal family in the genre, are universally recognized by the public and are widely used as well.
Meet the queens
Kitty Wells (1950)
Kitty Wells has broken down the barrier of male dominated gender and turned it into a space where women are welcomed and included. And most importantly, Wells has proven that country musicians deserve to be respected.
The road to becoming one of the greatest female singers in the history of country music has not been easy. For the most part, despite being a talented singer, many didn’t think she had what it takes to sell country records. One of them was Roy Acuff, who advised her husband Johnnie Wright not to star Wells on the show.
But things changed when she recorded her first hit in 1952 with “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”. This success was actually unexpected for two reasons: First, Wells was about to retire when she cut the song, and she only agreed to record it for the $ 125 session fee, and second, what really made a difference for her was the song’s accidental feminist. declaration. As the story goes, it was actually only meant to be a response to Hank Thompson’s hit “Wild Side of Life,” but Wells’ version turned the song into a response conveying a message that Laura Cantrell of Daily beast described as “A female weariness of being underestimated and a thinly veiled anger of being blamed for domestic conflicts”.
The song’s success led her to become the first country singer to take No. 1 on the US country charts, and the first female country superstar as well. And that was just the first in a long list of chart-topping hits and accolades that she received from the 1950s to the mid-1960s. But what really cemented Wells in the industry was is the inherent empathy she had for the characters in her song and her high-pitched, plaintive voice that cut through the hard surface of 1950s honky-tonk. And that consistency in the quality of the music she produced, by- above all, was what enabled him to be successful.
And with that, she proved that female country music artists can make albums, sell records, headline concerts, and be successful just as well as their male counterparts. She revolutionized the way women were seen and heard in the industry. And now country musicians are no longer called singing little girls and are given the respect they deserve. And for that, she deserves everything called a queen.
Loretta Lynn (1960s)
Kitty Wells broke through the barrier and paved the way for country musicians, and one of the first to do so was Loretta Lynn. But Lynn just didn’t go through it; she blazed through it. She represented women through her voice and helped bring about sweeping social change, while remaining a simple country girl from Kentucky.
Loretta Lynn’s ticket to the country music scene was a televised talent contest in Tacoma. She caught the attention of Norm Burley, who was so impressed with her that he released Zero Records only to record it. Her distinctive style fused with twang, grain, energy and libido earned her top ten hits, as did “Wine, Women, and Song” and “Blue Kentucky Girl”. And these songs also helped establish Lynn’s unmistakable female point of view.
With her subsequent works, Lynn reinforced that style and evolved it into unprecedented narratives of no bullshit women that subsequently earned her a string of hits. In her songs “You Ain’t Woman Enough (to Take My Man)”, “Don’t Come Home A Drinkin ‘(with Lovin’ on Your Mind) and” Fist City “, she took on the character of a woman. who is fearless and a woman who defends herself like real women did. She also didn’t hesitate to tackle the controversial topics of her time when she released “The Pill,” a rights-defending song. women in reproductive choices.And throughout her decades of career, Loretta Lynn has continued to empower women.
There is no denying that Loretta Lynn’s role in country music is nothing short of revolutionary. And just like Kitty Wells, she also earned the title of “Queen of Country Music”.
Dolly Parton (1970s)
If there was one word to describe Dolly Parton’s career, it would be precursor. From the stage of “The Case Walker Farm and Home Hour” in Knoxville, Tennessee, Dolly Parton captured the “Porter Wagoner Show” and catapulted herself onto the world stage. Her songs have become staple, and there’s probably no country music fan out there who can’t name a Dolly Parton song.
Throughout the history of Dolly Parton’s career, she was poor but surrounded by a multitude of musical talents. She got her first gig at the age of 10, wrote her first single at 11, and released her first songs at 13. But 13 was not just any age for Dolly, because that’s when she got to stage the Grand Ole Opry. But it was not until 1967 that his career began to take off. Soon she was gaining hits, and it was her 13th studio album, “Jolene”, that really lifted her to the top. “Jolene,” alongside four other singles from the album – “I Will Always Love You,” “Please Don’t Stop Loving Me,” “Love is Like a Butterfly” and “The Bargain Store “- all of them peaked at number one.
During Dolly Parton’s six-decade career, she released 91 albums, won nine Grammy Awards, and recorded record sales of over $ 160 million. But aside from being a country megastar, she’s also a philanthropist who has generated millions in income for Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, through her theme park, and helped kids through her “imagination library.”
Dolly Parton is arguably the most successful artist of all time, and her influence has undeniably crossed all borders. It was so rare to see an artist everyone loved, and she was one of the few there. And if that’s not Queen enough, what is it?
Reba McEntire (1980s)
Reba McEntire is another pioneering artist who has followed in the footsteps of the strong women who came before her. Reba’s career has inspired many young musicians by showing that despite many failures, she has risen to the challenges of becoming one of the greatest country singers in history.
Reba’s title as “Queen of Country Music” has been widely attributed to the massive successes and accolades she has achieved throughout her career. But as with everything great, it took her a little while to get to where she is right now. Reba began her career at a young age, taught by her mother as she and her siblings sang and harmonized on road trips and anytime possible in between. But what changed his life happened in 1974 at the National Rodeo Finals in Oklahoma City. Her performance led her to officially launch her professional music career.
Although having this golden opportunity didn’t exactly mean she was walking a good road. There were still a few bumps along the way, but she gained momentum when she hit the Top 20 with “Three Sheets in the Wind” and her cover of Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams”. After that, she slowly developed her career until she finally achieved her first two number one hits with “Can’t Even Get the Blues” and “You’re The First Time Ive Thought About Leaving”.
Then, after decades of career, Reba has now sold over 75 million records worldwide and placed over 100 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with 25 chart-topping hits. And that’s a feat that only a “country music queen” can accomplish.