The future of music

55 Best Female Country Singers of All Time

December 27, 2023
best female country singers

I’ve carefully selected the best female country singers of all time, showcasing the voices that have defined and transformed the genre.

These trailblazing artists, with their powerful storytelling and unforgettable melodies, have left an indelible mark on country music and its fans worldwide.

Top female country singers of all time

  • Dolly Parton
  • Maybelle Carter
  • Patsy Cline
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Kitty Wells
  • Loretta Lynn
  • Shania Twain
  • Faith Hill
  • Tammy Wynette
  • Emmylou Harris

1. Dolly Parton 

Let’s begin with a living legend and one of the most iconic female country singers in history.

With a career spanning nearly five decades, Dolly Parton truly made a huge impact on the genre and culture in general.

Over the course of her career, she has garnered 11 Grammy Awards and 50 nominations.

She released many country hits, but her songs “Jolene” and “9 to 5” are hands down her most famous songs.

Apart from music, Parton is also successful in the field of business.

Nevertheless, she is best known for her contribution to country music, and her timeless spirit and passion.

2. Maybelle Carter 

Of course, Maybelle Carter is among the top 5 best country singers of all time.

She and her family helped define the sound of country, and they inspired and encouraged many women country artists that came afterward. 

The Carter family was known for their vocal harmonies, and together they formed a popular Carter Family act.

Maybelle also performed as a part of Carter Sisters and Mother Maybelle.

3. Patsy Cline

Patsy Cline is a country icon and one of the most influential female vocalists of the 20th century.

She was one of the first country music artists to cross over into pop music, and her songs climbed both pop and country charts.

Her best known songs include “I Fall To Pieces”, “I Fall To Pieces”, and “Walkin’ After Midnight.” 

Patsy Cline’s life and career were cut short because of the tragic plane crash, but she will always be remembered as one of the most influential country singers in history.

4. Carrie Underwood 

Carrie Underwood is one of the most popular female country singers in the world right now.

She rose to fame after winning the American Idol in 2005, and thanks to her debut single “Inside Your Heaven”, she became the first country artist to debut on top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Underwood continued to build a successful career, and she is now among the top country artists of all time. 

She received numerous accolades, including 6 Grammy Awards.

Carrie Underwood’s biggest hits include “Blown Away”, “Before He Cheats”, and “Two Black Cadillacs.”

5. Kitty Wells 

Kitty Wells was also among the most influential female country artists.

She made history with her hit country song “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” in 1952.

The song broke down barriers for women in country music, and it paved the way for Kitty Wells to become a country star.

Wells was a winner of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and she ranks as the sixth most successful female vocalist in the history of the Billboard country charts.

6. Loretta Lynn 

Another iconic star of country music is Loretta Lynn.

She passed away in October 2022, and countless artists and fans paid tribute that day. 

Best known for her song “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, Loretta Lynn was one of the most beloved country singers.

And contributed to the genre a lot, both as a solo singer and through the legendary partnership with Conway Twitty.

7. Shania Twain

Dubbed “The Queen of Country Pop”, Shania Twain has a well-deserved place on this list.

She is one of the most popular country singers in the world, and some of her songs like “Any Man of Mine” and “Up!” are modern country classics.

And with over 100 million records sold, she is one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

Shania Twain’s impact on the genre is undeniable – after all, her record-breaking album The Woman In Me is cited as the one that changed country music.

8. Faith Hill

Faith Hill rose to fame in the 1990s, with her albums Take Me as I Am and It Matters to Me.

Over the years, she became one of the most successful country musicians in the world, selling more than 40 million albums worldwide.

She also earned several Grammy Awards.

All in all, Faith Hill is a talented and hard-working artist, and she is always on the top country singers lists for a good reason.

9. Tammy Wynette

Another classic female country singer we want to mention is Tammy Wynette. 

She was a country musician, actress, and author, and her influence was undeniable.

Wynette paved the way for the success of many women in country music, and her distinctive vocals and energy defined the image of a country diva. 

Her most famous songs include “Stand by Your Man” and “I Don’t Wanna Play House”, both of which are considered to be timeless country classics. 

10. Emmylou Harris 

Emmylou Harris is undeniably one of the most authentic as well as successful country musicians.

She has released dozens of albums and won 14 Grammys, and she is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Harris is known for her solo work as well as collaborations with artists such as Neil Young and Linda Ronstandt.

Her most notable songs include “Beneath Still Waters”, “Sweet Dreams”, and “One Of These Days.”

11. Bobbie Gentry 

Bobbie Gentry was one of the singers that helped define the country pop sound.

Her song “Ode to Billie Joe” was a big hit in the 60s, but she is also remembered for her other tunes such as “Ode To Billie Joe” and “All I Have To Do Is Dream.”

Even though she’s often described as one of the most memorable ladies of country music, Gentry’s songs can hardly be limited to only one music genre.

Her soulful vocals were something else, and her expression was unique and innovative for that time.

12. Taylor Swift 

At the age of 14, Taylor Swift moved to Nashville to become a country star.

Her debut album was a country studio album, and with her next two albums, she explored the sound of country pop.

Eventually, she turned to indie, pop, folk, and rock too – and she became one of the most successful music artists in the world.

Taylor Swift’s best known songs include smash hits such as “Shake It Off”, “Blank Space”, and “Look What You Made Me Do”, and “Our Song” is one of her most popular country tracks. 

13. Dottie West

Dottie West is one of the most famous country singers of the 20th century.

In 1965, she won a Grammy Award for her song “Here Comes Our Baby Back Again”, becoming the first woman in country music to receive a Grammy.

And that was only the beginning of West’s rich career.

Her duets with Kenny Rogers catapulted her to stardom in a new way, and with her 1979 song “A Lesson In Leavin’”, she climbed the top of the charts.

In 2018, Dottie West was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

14. Connie Smith 

Connie Smith is also an important name among the women of country music.

Her distinctive contralto vocals can’t be ignored, and her contribution to the country music genre is undeniable.

Smith’s 1964 song “Once A Day” stayed at the top of the country music charts for eight weeks

She had more than 20 top-ten hits over the next several decades, including “Then and Only Then” and “I Never Once Stopped Loving You.”

15. Linda Ronstadt 

Linda Ronstadt rose to fame during the rising country rock movement of the 1960s. 

Over the course of her rich career, she has released 24 studio albums and 15 compilation or greatest hits albums.

She also collaborated with many country stars, including Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris as well as artists in other genres such as Frank Zappa, Neil Young, and Paul Simon.

She is a truly talented and versatile music artist, and although she is retired now, her music is still being celebrated. 

16. Lynn Anderson 

Nothing had a voice and energy quite like Lynn Anderson.

She was both a country singer and a television personality.

Her signature song is “Rose Garden” – it was a number one hit in multiple countries.

But she also released many hits during her career, and her talent and hard work earned her a Grammy Award.

17. Brenda Lee 

Brenda Lee was known for performing country, rockabilly, and pop music.

She had more than 10 top-ten hits in the 60s – she was a big star back then.

And her music is still popular and relevant, especially songs like “Someone To Love” and “I’m Sorry.” 

And of course, let’s not forget about “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”, Brenda Lee’s 1958 song that became a Christmas classic. 

18. Wanda Jackson

Nicknamed “The Queen of Rockabilly”, Wanda Jackson is certainly one of the greatest women country artists of all time.

Her songs like “Right Or Wrong” and “Hard Headed Woman” became country classics.

She became even more popular after she dated Elvis Presley for a while.

But she is celebrated as a country musician with incredible vocal abilities and music that ranges across different genres.

19. Crystal Gayle

Crystal Gayle is a living country legend.

Besides for her super long hair, Loretta Lynn’s sister is also known for crossover songs from the 70s and the 80s.

“Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” is probably one of her most popular songs. 

Over the course of her career, Gayle also got numerous accolades and rewards, and she became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

20. Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss entered the music industry at an early age – she was competing in contests first, and started recording by the age of 14.

Eventually, Krauss became one of the most famous country and bluegrass singers in the world. 

She also garnered 27 Grammy Awards, which is quite impressive.

Her music has also appeared on numerous soundtracks, including the ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ soundtrack, and the ‘Cold Mountain’ soundtrack.

Krauss is still actively performing and creating.

21. Reba MacEntire 

Reba McEntire is a famous country singer and an American TV star.

Dubbed “The Queen of Country”, Reba has placed over 100 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Apart from country music, MacEntire also entered the film industry as well as the business world. 

But she is best known for her contribution to country music. 

22. Barbara Mandrell

Barbara Mandrell was one of the most famous female country singers in the 70s and the 80s.

She is best known for her number-one hits like “The Midnight Oil” and “Sleeping Single In A Double Bed.” 

Mandrell was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame, and she gave her last emotional performance in 1997 at the Grand Ole Opry.

23. Jean Shepard

Jean Shepard was a honky-tonk singer who showed up on the country music scene in the 50s, with her duet “A Dear John Letter.” 

That being said, Shepard pioneered for women in country music, and paved the way for many successful artists that came after her.

She became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1955, and with her unique singing style, she is definitely among the top women country singers that ever lived. 

24. Anne Murray

Another singer that influenced the country genre was Anne Murray.

Her musical legacy goes beyond the country genre, but she is mostly associated with country songs like “You Needed Me” and “You Won’t See Me.” 

Murray is a winner of three Grammys, and Billboard included her on their list of the Biggest Adult Contemporary Artists Ever.

She retired from both recording and performing in 2008, after the issue of her final Christmas album.

24. Tanya Tucker 

Tanya Tucker had her first hit at the age of 13.

Yes, her 1972 hit “Delta Dawn” marked the beginning of her career.

Over the years, she has released multiple successful albums and top country hits.

In essence, Tucker has been an important figure in country music for several decades now – and that’s why she deserves a spot on this list.

25. Rosanne Cash 

We also want to mention Rosanne Cash, the daughter of the legendary Johnny Cash.

Although being Johnny Cash’s daughter certainly helped her get on the music scene, Rosanne soon proved her worth.

Her talent and hard work led her to be a leading figure in country music and a Grammy Award winner.

Rosanne’s music spans many music genres, including folk, rock, and blues, and she certainly managed to find her own authentic sound.

26. LeAnn Rimes 

“Can’t Fight The Moonlight” is hands down one of the biggest hits of the early 2000s.

But LeAnn Rimes rose to fame as a country artist when she was only 13. 

Since 1996, the famous singer has sold over 37 million records worldwide.

Throughout her career, Rimes experimented with many styles and genres, but she never forgot her roots and passion for country music.

27. Wynonna Judd 

Wynonna Judd first rose to prominence as a member of The Judds, a music duo that she formed with her mother.

In a way, the duo helped define the sound of today’s modern country, and they certainly made their mark.

Wynonna eventually continued with solo performances, and became one of the most prolific country singers in the industry.

She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2022, along with her mother, Naomi Judd.

28. Trisha Yearwood 

Trisha Yearwood rose to fame in the 1990s, with her debut single “She’s In Love with the Boy.” 

In the following years, Yearwood established herself as a country diva, selling millions of records and winning a Grammy.

All in all, she is undeniably one of the most successful female country singers ever.

Her other notable songs include “Wrong Side Of Memphis.” and “Walkaway Joe.” 

29. Lee Ann Womack 

The 1990s also saw the emergence of the country star Lee Ann Womack.

Womack entered the scene with her 1997 self-titled album and popular songs “Never Again, Again” and “The Fool.”

However, it wasn’t until the 2000s when she achieved her peak success – her crossover song “I Hope You Dance” allowed her to reach the top of the country music charts for five consecutive weeks. 

30. Martina McBride

Martina McBride also entered the scene in the 90s.

More precisely, she debuted in 1991 with her single “The Time Has Come”, and has stayed one of the leading figures in country music ever since.

Over the years, she combined country and pop and developed a crossover sound, and some people compare to that of Shania Twain and Faith Hill.

Either way, McBride got nominated for a Grammy 14 times, but she actually won the Country Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year four times. 

31. Deana Carter

When Willie Nelson heard Deana Carter’s demo tape, there was no going back.

Carter released her debut in 1996 called Did I Shave My Legs For This?, and it was a big success. 

The single “Strawberry Wine” earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and won the Country Music Association’s Single of the Year award. 

32. Sara Evans 

Sara Evans is best known for her songs “I Keep Looking” and “I Could Not Ask for More.” 

Generally, her music surpasses the limits of only one genre, and she has many crossover songs combining traditional country and modern pop-country sounds.

But what helped her stand out from the crowd is her powerful voice. 

Besides being a talented and successful singer, Sara Evans is also credited as a record producer, actress, and author. 

33. Natalie Maines 

As the member of the all-female country group Dixie Chicks, Natalie Maines helped define the sound of modern country music.

She has won 13 Grammys and 10 Country Music Association Awards with the band. 

And she remains one of the most prominent music artists in country music history.

34. Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams is widely regarded as one of the best American singers.

She is an Americana legend, but she also made an impact on the country music genre.

And she is a recognized songwriter – in fact, she initially won the Grammy for Best Country Song as a songwriter. 

Eventually, Williams became the main representative and icon of the alternative country scene.

35. Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert became known to the world after competing on the television program Nashville Star.

She released her debut album independently, and eventually became one of the most famous country singers and a true creative force.

And she is still the leading figure on the country music scene.

She released her big hit “If I Was a Cowboy” in October 2021.

36. Jennifer Nettles 

Jennifer Nettles has been rocking on the country music scene since the 90s.

Her biggest commercial success to date is a 2006 duet with Bon Jovi, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.”

But she also made other very successful songs, and she won 3 Grammys and 4 Country Music Association Awards. 

“Unlove You” is taken from her second solo studio album, Playing With Fire.

37. Ashley McBryde 

Ashley McBryde got a record deal in 2006, and she established herself as one of the world’s top country artists.

Her powerful vocals and passion for writing songs helped her get attention and praise.

And one of her biggest acknowledgments is definitely the invite to join the Grand Ole Opry – she was inducted by Terri Clark in December 2022.

38. Margo Price 

When it comes to newer artists on the country music scene, Margo Price also deserves to be mentioned.

She received a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 2019, and that was only the beginning.

She released her last album That’s How Rumors Get Started in 2020, but she has announced a new album that will be released in the early 2023. 

That being said, we’re sure Margo Price is here to stay. 

39. Kacey Musgraves 

Without a doubt, Kacey Musgraves is currently one of the most popular female country singers.

She has been on the music scene since 2006, but it was her 2018 album Golden Hour catapulted her into stardom.

The album earned her four Grammy Awards, and album’s singles “Space Cowboy” and “Butterflies” became her signature songs.

40. Sierra Ferrell

Sierra Ferrell is undoubtedly one of the most interesting country artists in the music industry.

Apart from being a singer and songwriter, Sierra is also a talented instrumentalist.

Her music is imaginative and fresh, and it often contains elements of country, gypsy jazz, folk, and Latin styles. 

All in all, if Sierra Ferrell gave us a hint of what alternative country music will sound like in the future, we’re excited to witness it. 

41. Gretchen Wilson

Gretchen Wilson is a famous country singer and songwriter who made her debut in 2004.

She is best known for her Grammy-Award winning single “Redneck Woman.” 

Wilson has charted 13 singles on the Billboard country charts since then, and her impact on the country and country rock music genre is evident. 

42. Olivia Newton-John

When asked to name country stars, you probably wouldn’t start with Olivia Newton-John.

She was a successful singer best known for her iconic duet with John Travolta “You’re The One That I Want..” 

However, Olivia made a huge impact on the country music scene, and her musical legacy includes country classics. 

Moreover, one of her biggest hits from Grease, “Hopelessly Devoted To You”, also has elements of country. 

43. Mary Chapin Carpenter

Mary Chapin Carpenter is a folk and country singer who began her career in the 1980s.

She released her breakthrough album State of The Heart in 1989, and she has made a lot of successful country tunes since then.

Her music is largely inspired by contemporary country and folk, and her songs often contain feminist themes.

44. Donna Fargo 

Donna Fargo made her debut in the 60s, and she has released many successful songs since then.

But she is best known for her series of Top 10 country hits in the 1970s.

“The Happiest Girl In The Whole U.S.A.” and “Funny Face” are among those memorable hits. 

 45. Kathy Mattea

Kathy Mattea is also regarded as one of the most influential female country artists of the century. 

Her versatile musical style includes elements of bluegrass, country, folk, and Celtic music.

And her most recognizable songs include “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” and “Come from the Heart.”

Mattea also collaborated with artists such as Dolly Parton, Tim O’Brien, and Michael McDonald.

46. K.T. Oslin

Kay Toinette Oslin was a Grammy-Award-winning country singer and songwriter.

Her greatest hits include “80’s Ladies”, “Hold Me”, and “Do Ya.”

Oslin’s musical style was based on country, but she also combined elements of country pop, country rock, and adult contemporary.

In one of the interviews, she said that her music is a ‘mishmash of stuff’ – and we want to add it’s a good one.

47. Jeanie C. Riley

As a country music and gospel singer, Jeanie C.Riley was pretty famous in the 60s and the 70s.

Her 1968 country-pop song “Harper Valley PTA” was a number-one hit.

Although she didn’t succeed to match its success, Riley remains one of the most prominent singers in country music history.

48. Sammi Smith 

Jewel Fay Smith, known professionally as Sammi Smith, was a 70s country star.

She became one of the few women in the outlaw country movement, a group of country artists who fought for their creative freedom.

Sammi Smith’s best hit and signature song is a 1971 country-pop crossover tune “Help Me Make It Through the Night”, written by Kris Kristofferson (who wrote “Me and Bobby McGee.”)

49. Maren Morris 

Maren Morris might be relatively new on the scene, but she definitely deserves a place on this list.

She released her record-breaking debut in 2015, and she has been rocking the scene ever since.

Her music is a blend of country, country pop, R&B, and hip-hop – and it works really well.

Maren Morris is arguably one of the most famous singers of the modern country music scene. 

50. Bonnie Tyler

Generally speaking, Bonnie Tyler is one of the most iconic singers of all time.

Her music encompasses a wide range of genres, from pop and rock to country music – that being said, Tyler’s spot on this list is well-deserved.

After all, she is best known for her distinctive husky voice that can fit any genre.

Bonnie Tyler’s greatest hits include “It’s a Heartache” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” 

51. Danielle Bradbery 

Danielle Bradbery is probably the youngest country singer on our list.

In 2013, Bradbery won season 4 of NBC’s The Voice, becoming the youngest artist to win the competition.

Moreover, she released her debut album in 2013, and continued to make music in the following years.

She definitely already achieved great success, but we’re also curious to see how her musical style evolves.

52. June Carter Cash 

June Carter Cash was a member of the Carter Family and the second wife of singer Johnny Cash.

But more importantly, she was a talented singer, songwriter, and dancer.

She also played multiple instruments, including guitar, banjo, harmonica, and autoharp.

So it’s fair to say that June Carter Cash was one of the most talented and versatile country artists of her generation.

53. Lorrie Morgan

Lorrie Morgan is best known for her songs “Good As I Was To You”, and “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength”, and “What Part of No.”

Morgan’s music is defined by her distinctive singing voice and delivery, and although it’s rooted in country music, her style also has country pop elements.

She is a member of Grand Ole Opry, and she is also known for her collaborations with Tammy Wynnette, Dolly Parton, the Beach Boys, and many other legendary artists.

54. Marie Osmond 

Marie Osmond rose to fame as a member of a family group the Osmonds.

The group reached peak success in the 1970s, but Marie also became famous thanks to her solo recordings.

Her best known song to date is a remake of the country pop ballad “Paper Roses.”

Osmond is still active on the music scene, and her latest album Unexpected came out in 2021. 

55. Kelly Clarkson

Let’s wrap things up with one of the most popular names on this list – Kelly Clarkson.

Clarkson is now a successful singer and a TV personality, but she started out with her debut country single “A Moment Like This.”

In fact, she rose to fame after winning American Idol, but she continued building her career and established herself as one of the most successful singers in the industry.

Female Country Singers – Final Thoughts 

So much has changed in country music since its beginnings, and our list of the best female country singers of all time showcases that perfectly.

We included musicians who helped shape the sound of country as well as stars of modern country music.

But all of these women have one thing in common – they made a huge impact on the genre, and their songs will keep inspiring and encouraging women in country music for decades to come.

Similar Articles:

Best Male Country Singers

Best Country Songs of All Time

Best Country Love Songs

Will Fenton

Will, the founder of MIDDER, is a multifaceted individual with a deep passion for music and personal finance. As a self-proclaimed music and personal finance geek, he has a keen eye for futuristic technologies, especially those that empower creators and the public.

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