When you think of 90s country music, you probably think of the neotraditional style that mixed classic country with honky tonk music dominated by huge names like Garth Brooks, Clint Black, and Alan Jackson. The female side of the genre was just as influential for the future of country music as the male side though. Here’s a list of the best female country singers the 90s brought us.
1. Shania Twain
Shania Twain may be the most successful female country artist of the 90s, garnering her the title of Queen of Country Pop. The Canadian artist released huge hits that are still played today like Man, I Feel Like A Woman, You’re Still The One, Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under, and That Don’t Impress Me Much. Twain, like Garth Brooks, absolutely dominated the country charts throughout the decade with hit song after hit song. She’s a five-time Grammy-winning country artist, and her third album, Come On Over, became the best-selling album by a female country artist.
2. Faith Hill
Faith Hill today is known for her marriage to Tim McGraw, but she was a wildly successful country artist before that relationship even began. She was one of the most popular country artists of the 90s with hit songs like Kiss This and It Matters To Me. She is also a very successful actress and producer, with a career that has racked up 40 million in album sales and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. You might recognize her from her appearance on the hit show Yellowstone.
3. The Chicks
Formerly called The Dixie Chicks, they found limited success in the 90s after forming in 1989, but their 1998 album Wide Open Spaces finally brought them immense success. It won them their first Grammy Award as well. The group won awards from the CMAs, the Academy of Country Music, and Billboard. You’ll recognize them from songs like Wide Open Spaces, Traveling Soldier, and Goodbye Earl. The Dixie part of their name was dropped by the band, stating negative and racial connotations.
4. Reba McEntire
Reba McEntire is one of the most decorated artists in all of country music. She rose to prominence in the 90s, and her hit songs Fancy, The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia, and Does He Love You paid homage to classic country and showed the fierceness of the woman singing them. Her success continued beyond the 90s, placing over 100 singles on the Hot 100 Country charts and reaching the number-one spot 25 times. She even went on to star in a sitcom of her namesake, Reba.
5. Martina McBride
Martina McBride released her debut single in 1992 and immediately saw The Time Has Come reach number 23 on the US charts. Her style blended country, pop, and contemporary Christian music together, which helped her stand out among the other great female artists of the 90s. She would go on to release her Evolution album in 1997, which produced four more top hits. Throughout her career, she received 14 Grammy Nominations, released 14 studio albums, and won Female Vocalist of the Year from the Country Music Association.
6. Patty Loveless
Patty Loveless began her country music career in the 80s but found most of her success in the 90s. She became known for hit singles such as Blame It On Your Heart and I Try To Think About Elvis. While best known for her neotraditional take on country, she’s experimented with bluegrass and pop country. In 1992, she took a short hiatus from recording and performing because of an aneurysm in one of her vocal cords. It was safely removed, and after recovering, she returned to the country music scene.
7. Trisha Yearwood
Trisha Yearwood may be a star on the Food Network now, but during the 90s, she was one of the best female country music artists. Her debut single She’s In Love With The Boy immediately reached number one on the charts in 1991. She quickly went on to record other hit songs like Walkaway Joe, How Do I Live, and That’s What I Like About You. She went on to marry country music superstar Garth Brooks in 2005 and has been less involved with the music scene after the 90s.
8. Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton is one of the most important and influential female artists to ever grace country music. While her biggest album successes came before the 90s started, she was still one of the most prominent female artists of the decade. Much of her most popular work in the decade came from recording songs for television and movies, but her pre-1990 releases were still wildly popular and influential. Rockin’ Years and Romeo were two of her best releases during the 90s.
9. LeAnn Rimes
LeeAnn Rimes found tremendous success in the 90s, despite releasing her debut country album at the young age of 13. Blue became an instant single hit and propelled her and the album of the same name into immediate stardom. It sold over six million albums in 1996, cementing her as one of the biggest names in country music at the time.
SHeDAISY is an all-female country group made up of three sisters: Kristyn, Kelsi, and Kassidy Osborn. Their 1999 album The Whole SHeBANG went platinum, helping them find success and pulling them out of the bars and small venues they had been playing in previously. Their biggest songs of the 90s included Lucky 4 You and Little Goodbyes.
11. Terri Clark
Terri Clark debuted in 1995 under a self-titled album that went platinum in both the United States and Canada. Her single Better Things To Do turned the normal stereotype of a scorned woman upside down, highlighting that she couldn’t care less about her former lover instead of her hurt feelings or revenge. She found further success in the 90s with singles like Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me and If I Were You.
12. LeeAnn Womack
LeeAnn Womack is best known for blending multiple styles of music into a type of country pop that fans ate up. Unfortunately, she lost many of the master copies of her albums in a fire that broke out at Universal Studios in 2008. She became one of the best neotraditional female artists with songs like Never Again, Again and The Fool in 1997, though her most recognizable release came in 2000 with I Hope You Dance.
13. Jo Dee Messina
Jo Dee Messina entered the country music scene in 1997 with a self-titled album that produced two singles that broke into the top ten: Heads Carolina, Tails California and You’re Not In Kansas Anymore. Her second album I’m Alright brought her breakthrough success with the title track, which, along with Bye, Bye and Stand Beside Me, made her the first female artist to have three multi-week numbers-one songs on the same album.
14. Sara Evans
Sara Evans started her career in her family’s band before signing a contract with RCA records in 1997. Her subsequent debut album Three Chords And The Truth found some success, but her second album went wild. No Place That Far became the number-one album on the country charts and helped her find great success throughout the late 90s and early 2000s. No Place That Far, Suds In The Bucket, and A Little Bit Stronger went on to become some of her most popular songs, though the latter two were released after the 90s.
15. Mindy McCready
Mindy McCready released three albums in the 90s, starting with the 1996 double-platinum hit Ten-Thousand Angels. Her biggest track, Guys Do It All The Time, reached number one on the charts. Her short career brought her 12 songs that were charted on Billboard’s country singles charts, and she released a total of five albums before ending her career in 2010.
16. Wynonna Judd
Wynonna Judd has gone on to become one of the biggest names in country music and one of the best-selling country artists of all time. Her career began in the 80s as part of the duo The Judds with her mother, Naomi. The two were able to produce 14 number ones between 1983 and 1991 before she went on to release solo work. She released four albums in the 90s, the first three of which were certified platinum with the fourth reaching gold certification. Her single No One Else On Earth was the number-one country song of 1992.
17. Chely Wright
Chely Wright found success in 1996 with her second album release Right In The Middle Of It, but it truly broke out in 1997 with the release of her third album Let Me In. It peaked at number 25 on the country album charts, spending 44 weeks in that position. Her biggest single hit was the 1999 track Single White Female, which reached the number-one spot on the country charts. Her former band members Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney would eventually go on to form their own band, Rascal Flatts. She went on to become an avid activist, trying to better public schools, music programs, and LGBTQ rights.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.