There are few superstars more iconic than the divas of country music. From the soaring vocals of Patsy Cline to the modern stylings of Kacey Musgraves, we are going to take a look at 41 of the most famous female country singers of all time!
1. Maybelle Carter
You can’t talk about country music without mentioning Mother Maybelle Carter, the matriarch of the famous Carter Family. They were the first vocally-driven country music to make it big. Along with her cousin Sara, the women of the Carter family helped define the country music sound today. While their family is well-known for their vocal harmonies, Mother Maybelle’s guitar picking still influences guitar players today.
2. Patsy Cline
There may not ever be a voice as powerful as Patsy Cline’s ever again. With hits like “I Fall To Pieces” and “Walkin’ After Midnight,” she became one of the first country stars to cross over to the pop music charts. While her life was sadly cut short by a plane crash, she remains one of the most iconic and influential country singers of all time.
3. Kitty Wells
Kitty Wells made history in 1952 when “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” became the first female-sung tune to hit the top of the country music charts. For more than a decade to follow, you couldn’t talk about country music without hearing about Kitty. She sang beloved hits such as “Heartbreak USA” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You.”
4. Dolly Parton
The fourth of twelve children living in a small cabin, Dolly Parton always knew she was bound for fame. And she was right—she has done just about everything a superstar diva could hope to accomplish. With 25 singles reaching the top of the country music charts, Dolly has delivered the goods for half of a century!
5. Loretta Lynn
You can’t talk about country music without mentioning the “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta Lynn. From her legendary partnership with Conway Twitty to her solo work, she has had 10 number-one country albums with iconic tracks including “You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough.”
6. Tammy Wynette
“The First Lady of Country Music,” few women have left a larger mark on country music than Tammy Wynette. Her soaring vocals on tunes like “Stand By Your Man” have defined what it means to be a female country diva. Not only that, but her tunes also told the often unspoken stories of women in America, bringing them to the forefront of country music.
7. Emmylou Harris
One of the most decorated country singers in history, Emmylou Harris is a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the winner of countless Grammys. Not only has she had an illustrious career as a singer and songwriter, but few artists have ever been more prolific in their collaborations with other artists.
Next: Top 1960s female singers
8. Bobbie Gentry
With her 1967 hit “Ode To Billie Joe,” Bobbie Gentry helped to define a country-inspired pop sound. With her soulful vocals, she could not be defined by a single genre, though her work—including her musical partnership with Glen Campbell—was always rooted in a country sound. Her influence on country musicians cannot be understated, with artists like Reba McEntire covering her tunes.
9. Dottie West
Country Music Hall of Famer, Dottie West won the 1965 Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance for her tune “Here Comes My Baby Back Again.” Her duets in the 1970s with Kenny Rogers elevated her career to new heights before her 1979 song “A Lesson In Leavin'” hit the top of the country music charts.
10. Connie Smith
When Connie Smith’s 1964 tune “Once A Day” stayed at the top of the country music charts for eight weeks, it represented the longest tenure at the top spot for a female-sung tune. With nearly more than 20 top-ten hits over the next several decades, Connie cemented her place as one of country music’s top female stars.
11. Linda Ronstadt
Linda Ronstadt entered the music scene during the rising country rock movement of the 1960s. Her 1969 album Hand Sown … Home Grown is considered to be the first female-led alternative country album. In 1974, she was named Best New Female Artist by the Academy of Country Music and her 1987 album Trio with Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton is still considered one of country music’s most iconic country music collaborations.
12. Lynn Anderson
North Dakota native and talented equestrian, Lynn Anderson is considered one of country music’s greatest vocal performers. With 5 number-one country hits and 18 top-ten singles, she received the Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her 1970 crossover hit “Rose Garden.” She continued to perform and record into the new millennium, cementing her place as one of country music’s greatest vocal acts.
13. Brenda Lee
Only three acts had more top-ten hits in the 1960s than Brenda Lee: Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Ray Charles. Little Miss Dynamite may have been short in stature, but her voice was the biggest on the radio. With top hits like “I’m So Sorry,” Brenda has one of the most iconic voices in country music history. No tune may be more recognizable than her recording of “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.”
14. Wanda Jackson
“The Queen of Rockabilly” Wanda Jackson came on the scene opening for (and dating) Elvis Presley. She not only laid the foundation for all female rock ‘n’ roll singers that followed her, but she also sang essential country tracks like “Right Or Wrong,” reaching the top ten of the country music charts. Few performers, man or woman, have displayed greater vocal range and ability, ranging across genres and styles.
15. Crystal Gayle
Sister of Loretta Lynn, the long-haired Crystal Gayle was one of the top crossover pop-country acts of the 1970s and 1980s. With hits like “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” she has countless country music awards and accolades. In celebration of her storied career, she was inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2017.
16. Barbara Mandrell
Country Music Hall of Famer Barbara Mandrell was one of the most successful country music singers of the 1970s and 1980s. With 6 number-one hits and 25 top-ten tunes, she sang hit tunes like “The Midnight Oil” and “Sleeping Single In A Double Bed.” She was also a talented steel guitar picker! Not even a 1984 car accident could stop the country diva, as she followed it up with a slew of top country hits. The singer gave her final live performance in 1997 at the Grand Ole Opry.
17. Jean Shepard
Honky-tonker Jean Shepard jumped onto the country scene in 1953 with her duet “A Dear John Letter.” After a slew of quick hits, she was invited to join Kitty Wells at the Grand Ole Opry in 1955. With 24 albums and a huge number of hits, Jean’s singing and yodeling made her one of the century’s most prolific and important country singers. Her honky-tonk style is shown off in tunes like “Second Fiddle (To An Old Guitar).”
18. Anne Murray
Before Shania Twain and Celine Dion put Canada on the pop music map, there was Anne Murray. She won the Country Music Association’s Album of the Year for her 1983 “A Little Good News.” In addition, she’s won three Grammys for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. Anne’s musical legacy extends past country music, including soft rock and adult contemporary—but it is her versatility as a singer that has made her one of the best country singers to play the game.
19. Tanya Tucker
There aren’t too many voices that sound more country than Tanya Tucker’s. She hit the stage in 1972 at the age of 13 with her song “Delta Dawn.” She brought a rock ‘n’ roll sound to her outlaw country music and has continued to be prolific ever since. While she has received a stream of nominations and awards, Tanya won her first two Grammy awards in 2020, winning the awards for Best Country Album and Best Country Song. She has been a central figure and voice in country music over the past 5 decades.
20. Alison Krauss
A bluegrass and country singer who also got her start as a teenager, Alison Krauss is one of the most celebrated country singers in modern music. An accomplished instrumentalist, she is known for leading her band Union Station, for being central to the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, and for her long-standing musical relationship with Robert Plant. With 27 Grammy awards, only Beyoncé, Quincy Jones, and conductor Georg Solti have won more.
21. Reba McEntire
She’s “the Queen of Country Music,” and her name is Reba McEntire! With 25 number-one country hits and an eponymous television series, few (if any) country stars have achieved her level of fame. With over 90 music awards to her name and hundreds of nominations, Reba is one of the most decorated country musicians of all time. She has 33 studio albums and counting and is still defining her musical legacy to this day.
22. Faith Hill
Faith Hill hit the ground running—her first two albums Take Me As I Am and It Matters to Me put her at the top of the country game with three number-one country hits. She wrapped up the decade with even bigger albums in Faith and Breathe. The winner of 5 Grammys, Faith is known for her powerful vocal delivery. She has also sung many duets with her husband, Tim McGraw.
23. Rosanne Cash
The daughter of Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash staked her claim to music history with her chart-topping tune “Seven Year Ache.” The Grammy-award-winning artist has had 11 number-one country singles. Rosanne was a hit machine throughout the 1980s. Her music spans many genres, including folk, rock, and blues. While she is the child of a country legend, Rosanne has left a musical legacy that sets her all apart.
24. Shania Twain
“The Queen of Country Pop” Shania Twain is one of the best-selling music artists of all time. After a few albums and Grammy wins in the mid-90s, it was her third album Come On Over that sent her career into the stratosphere. The album was the top-selling studio album in country music history, earning her 4 more Grammys with a slew of iconic tracks like “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” and “You’re Still The One.”
25. Wynonna Judd
Wynonna Judd began her music career as a duo—The Judds—with her mother, Naomi. The pair helped define the modern country music sound as we know it today. Between her work with her mother and solo performances, Wynonna has had 19 number-one hit singles. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2022 alongside her mother.
26. Trisha Yearwood
With her debut 1991 number-one single “She’s In Love with the Boy,” Trisha Yearwood established herself as the newest country diva. She put out a slew of hits throughout the 90s, selling millions of records and netting 3 Grammy awards along the way. A member of the Grand Ole Opry, Trisha has also garnered fame for her cookbooks and Emmy-award-winning cooking show Trisha’s Southern Kitchen.
27. Lee Ann Womack
Lee Ann Womack entered the country music scene to great acclaim with her 1997 self-titled album and hits “Never Again, Again” and “The Fool.” But it was her 2000 crossover hit “I Hope You Dance” that established her as a superstar, reaching the top of the country music charts for five straight weeks. Her 2005 There’s More Where That Came From displayed her powerful chops on a more traditional country album.
28. Martina McBride
Martina McBride hit the country scene in 1991 with her single “The Time Has Come” and has been a staple of the pop-country scene ever since. A four-time winner of the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year and 14-time Grammy nominee, the Kansas-born singer is known for hits like “Independence Day” and “This One’s For the Girls.”
29. Deana Carter
Deana Carter’s big break came when Willie Nelson heard her demo tape. A few years later, in 1996, she released her debut, the multi-platinum album “Did I Shave My Legs For This?” The single “Strawberry Wine” garnered her a Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and won the Country Music Association’s Single of the Year award. While her subsequent work did not achieve the same commercial success, she continues to perform today, including at the Grand Ole Opry.
30. LeAnn Rimes
It only took one note of her 1996 debut “Blue” to know that LeAnn Rimes was going to be a star. At only 14 years old, her debut garnered her the 1997 Grammys for Best New Artist and Best Female Country Vocal Performance. With powerful vocals rivaling that of Patsy Cline, LeAnn has found great commercial success as a country, pop, and Christian singer.
31. Sara Evans
With five number one Billboard country hits—including “I Could Not Ask for More” and “I Keep Looking,” Sara Evans has secured her place in the country music pantheon. The Missouri-born diva has a powerhouse voice—her music has ranged from traditional country sounds to modern pop-country crossovers.
32. Natalie Maines
The lead singer of The Chicks has helped shape the sound of modern country music. With the band, Natalie Maines has won 13 Grammys and 10 Country Music Association Awards. Few bands have had the influence of The Chicks, in large part thanks to Natalie’s work as lead singer. In addition to her award-winning vocals, she has been an outspoken critic of US foreign policy, and this has led to a fair bit of controversy.
33. Lucinda Williams
An Americana legend, Lucinda Williams has been on the scene since her 1979 song “Ramblin’ On My Mind.” She initially received critical acclaim as a songwriter, winning the Grammy for Best Country Song in 1994. It was her 1999 alt-country masterpiece Car Wheels On A Gravel Road that brought her greatest commercial success, netting another Grammy along the way. While her work has spanned a wide range of genres, from folk to blues to rock ‘n’ roll, Lucinda has been an icon of the alternative country scene over the past 40 years.
34. Miranda Lambert
Since 2000, few country singers have been more prolific and successful as Miranda Lambert. She got her big break on the television talent show Nashville Star in 2003. In 2005, she released the platinum album Kerosene, cementing her place as an up-and-coming country star. And there has been no slowing her down—her 2015 album Platinum and 2019 album Wildcard both won Grammys for Best Country Album, and her 2022 album Palomino has her in position to repeat it, headed up by hit single “If I Was a Cowboy.”
35. Jennifer Nettles
Jennifer Nettles has been on the country music scene since the early 90s and is one of the finest singers to play the game. While she garnered her biggest commercial success in the 2006 duet “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” with Bon Jovi, she has also won 3 Grammys and 4 Country Music Association Awards. Her debut solo album, That Girl, hit number one on the US Country charts. Jennifer is one of modern country music’s most powerful singers.
36. Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood shot to fame when she won American Idol in 2005. Her debut single “Inside Your Heaven” was the first country artist to debut on top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and she followed that up with the Grammy-winning album Some Hearts. Featuring tunes like “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats,” Carrie became country music royalty overnight.
37. Taylor Swift
There are few names bigger in modern music than Taylor Swift. The pop music star got her start as a teen with her 2006 eponymous debut and follow-up albums Fearless and Speak Now. With songs like “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me,” her country tunes were the soundtrack of the decade. With 11 Grammys and countless other accolades, Taylor has established herself as one of the greatest recording artists of all time—and it all started with a young girl playing country songs on her guitar.
38. Ashley McBryde
Ashely McBryde is a relative newcomer—after self-releasing two albums in 2006 and 2011, she got a record deal in 2017 and released her album Girl Going Nowhere. She may be an up-and-comer, but her powerful vocals and her rock ‘n’ roll swagger make it clear that she is here to stay.
39. Margo Price
Margo Price is a newer face in the country limelight, but it only takes one song to understand that she is as country as country gets. With a voice that calls back to country legends like Dolly Parton, she is poised to be one of the biggest country stars out there. She received a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 2019, and she is just getting started.
40. Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves has put in the work—the country singer has been on the music scene since 2008, though it was her Grammy-nominated 2018 album Golden Hour that finally represented her big break. Equipped with a love for classic country and modern sensibilities, she continues to show that she is the real deal, winning Grammys for her songs “Space Cowboy” and “Butterflies.”
41. Sierra Ferrell
If anyone was going to challenge Brenda Lee for the title of Little Miss Dynamite, it’s the dynamo, Sierra Ferrell. A talented instrumentalist, she has bigger pipes than a cathedral organ. She learned the craft as a nomad, traveling and busking with other musicians. The future of country music is in good hands with Sierra at the helm.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.