Great female country singers become icons with just a single name. Dolly, Reba, Shania, Loretta … no one will ever ask “Which one?” in a conversation about these powerful country women.
The list goes on: Patsy, Miranda, Tammy, Martina — even Taylor has a single moniker. There’s no need for the “Underwood” in Carrie Underwood. A Rosanne by any other name will get you trampled by women named Alison, Crystal and Gretchen — perhaps especially Gretchen.
Here are our picks the top 10 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.
It’s a matter of fact. Ask a pop-leaning country singer under 30 who her No. 1 influence has been and she’ll say Taylor Swift. Perhaps only a short country career and time keep Taylor from ranking higher on this list of the most powerful country women of all time.
Dolly Rebecca Parton is an American singer-songwriter, actress, author, businesswoman, and humanitarian, known primarily for her work in country music.
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.
It’s no surprise that Pam Tillis followed in the footsteps of her famous dad, Mel Tillis. She grew up in Nashville and made her Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 8. But while her legendary father was an obvious inspiration, Tillis blazed her own trail with 1990’s Put Yourself in My Place. The album spawned three Top 10 hits, including the steamy southern saga “Maybe It Was Memphis” and the barroom shuffler “Don’t Tell Me What To Do.” Tillis came to define the neo-traditional sound of 90s country radio and remains one of the most important voices in the genre.
Any conversation that mentions country music’s most powerful women of all time is bound to bring up Loretta Lynn. Her influence as a singer, songwriter and female trailblazer can’t be overstated.
Though she’s known as an alt-country queen, no list of female country artists would be complete without Lucinda Williams. The impact that Williams has had on the genre as a whole can’t be understated. Her 1998 masterpiece Car Wheels On a Gravel Road, with its homespun tales of Southern Gothic heartache, was a welcome respite from the uniformity of country radio. Williams, who released her 12th studio album in 2016, remains one of the most introspective voices in country and Americana.
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.
Now that she’s an international superstar, it’s easy to forget that Underwood got her start on American Idol. It’s a testament to her star power — at that incredible voice — that any ties to Ryan Seacrest have long ago faded away. Boosted by the success of the saucy revenge track “Before He Cheats” and the showstopping “Two Black Cadillacs,” Underwood has become one of the most revered singers of the genre.
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.