It’s hard to believe there was a day when country music was an exclusive boy’s club. Jimmie Rodgers was a pioneer. Then there was Hank Williams, telling his tragic personal story in twang. Roger Miller’s eight hours behind a broom and a 50 cents a night rented room was a sad anthem for the next generation.
Country music in the 50s and 60s had its devotees. But it was a musical style with limited appeal. That was about to change.
The genre added depth and breadth with the advent of the female country artist, and country has never been the same. This week, in two parts, Gildshire picks up its weathered guitar and takes a look at the rich history and vast contributions of the female country star.
Reba McEntire – Going Out Like That
Loretta Lynn: Known as The First Lady of Country Music, Loretta Lynn turned music on its ear in 1960. The country sweetie from Butcher Hollow, Kentucky (From where else would the First Lady of Country hail?) first performed duets with Conway Twitty and Ernest Tubb before striking it rich on her own terms. Ms. Lynn has written over 160 songs and released 60 albums on her way to four Grammy Awards and seven American Music Award nods. Signature song: “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
Dolly Parton: Four years after Loretta Lynn began her career, rural Tennessee produced Dolly Parton. At first viewed as a novelty of structural proportions Ms. Parton soon shed that one-dimensional image and fashioned a dynamic career in country music. Her successful music and engaging personal style led to a parallel career on Broadway and in movies. Parton is one of the most-feted performers of all time, with eight Grammys and three American Music Awards out of a whopping 18 nominations. She is the founder of the popular theme park “Dollywood” where she makes frequent unannounced appearances each year. Signature song: “9 to 5.”
Reba McEntire: The 1970s ushered in the era of Reba Nell McEntire. Born in McAlester, Oklahoma, Reba took her early influence from her mother, who taught young Reba harmonies on car trips back from her father’s rodeo appearances. Ms. McIntyre came to prominence from the outset of her career in 1975. A two-time Grammy winner, out of nine nominations, Ms. McEntire is a 23-time winner of the prestigious American Music Award and nine-time People’s Choice selection as Favorite Female Country Performer. Signature song: “Cathy’s Clown.”
Faith Hill: Ridgeland, Mississippi’s Audrey Faith Perry took on the stage name of Faith Hill when she began her career in the early 90s. The blonde songstress never looked back. Right out of the gate, Ms. Hill’s “Wild One” held the top spot on Billboard’s country chart for four consecutive weeks. It was the first country song in 30 years to achieve such staying power. Ms. Hill’s country prowess became crossover success in 1998 with the release of “The Way You Love Me”. A five-time Grammy winner, Ms. Hill has also been awarded six times from the Academy of Country Music. Signature song: “Mississippi Girl.”
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