Honky Tonk Angels: The Role of Women in Classic Country Music
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Classic country music has been dominated by male artists for decades, but women have always played a significant role in shaping the genre. From the early days of country music to modern times, female singers and songwriters have contributed to the evolution of classic country music, often with unique perspectives and styles that set them apart from their male counterparts.
One of the earliest female country music stars was the legendary Patsy Cline. Her iconic voice and hit songs like “Crazy” and “Walkin’ After Midnight” helped pave the way for other female artists. Cline’s influence can still be heard in the music of modern country stars like Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves.
Another influential woman in classic country music is Loretta Lynn. Lynn’s autobiographical songs about her struggles as a woman in a male-dominated world, such as “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” struck a chord with listeners and helped pave the way for future generations of female country artists. She was the very first woman to ever win CMA Entertainer of the Year!
Dolly Parton is another woman who has left an indelible mark on classic country music. With her distinctive voice and catchy songs, Parton has remained a beloved figure in the genre for over five decades. Her songs, such as “Jolene” and “9 to 5,” are still popular today and have been covered by countless other artists.
In addition to singers, female songwriters have also played an important role in classic country music. Cindy Walker, for example, wrote hits for some of the biggest names in country music, including Bob Wills, Roy Orbison, and Eddy Arnold. And Matraca Berg, who wrote hits for Reba McEntire and Martina McBride, has been recognized as one of the most influential songwriters of her generation.
Despite the contributions of these and many other women in classic country music, the industry has not always been kind to female artists. In recent years, many female artists have spoken out about the sexism and discrimination they have faced in the music industry. However, many women continue to make their mark on the genre and inspire future generations of artists.
There wouldn’t be a Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, or Dolly Parton without Kitty Wells. Her hit song ” “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” went #1 on the the charts, making her the first female to achieve this feat! She became the world’s very first female country superstar, paving the way for all the women behind her.
In conclusion, women have played an essential role in shaping classic country music. From the trailblazing Patsy Cline to the groundbreaking Loretta Lynn, and the evergreen Dolly Parton, female artists have brought their unique voices and perspectives to the genre. As the industry continues to evolve, it is essential to recognize and celebrate the contributions of women to classic country music.
At the 2019 CMA Awards, Women in Country Music were celebrated with a 9-minute opening number. Watch it below.