There are as many unforgettable female singers in the history of country music as there are male singers, but not all of them get the attention they deserve. There are the obvious legends, names like Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Wynonna, and Trisha Yearwood, as well as slightly less revered ladies who once ruled the charts, including Donna Fargo, Janie Fricke, and Pam Tillis.
One name rises out of the history books and continues to write and record today, and she is certainly a contender for the title of most unforgettable female singer in the history of country music: Loretta Lynn.
Loretta Lynn scores points in every single category for which you might put her up to competition: songwriting, vocal ability, authenticity, instrumental prowess, and respect among her peers. She has also been a sales success, a chart success, and the winner of many of the biggest awards in the music industry. She hit the Number One spot on the Country Singles chart sixteen times, both as a solo artist and in duets with Conway Twitty. She held the record for most Top Ten albums on the Country Albums chart until Reba McEntire surpassed her last year. She was the first woman to win the prestigious Entertainer of the Year award from the Academy of Country Music. And, most importantly, her countless hit singles are still played and enjoyed today: titles like "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)," "One's On The Way," and "Coal Miner's Daughter."
However, when it comes to Loretta Lynn, there is something else that gives her the edge when it comes to unforgettable country singers. It's that elusive but oh-so-important factor known as innovation, or to put it more bluntly: she was one heck of a trailblazer! She was among the very first women in the genre to write her own songs, certainly the most well known chart-topper to do so. Songs that hold their own in the long history of country music, like "Don't Come Home A' Drinkin' (With Lovin' On Your Mind)," "Fist City," and the previously mentioned "Coal Miner's Daughter" were all self-penned by Lynn. She also tackled subjects that were considered taboo in the 1960s and 70s, including birth control, with her controversial song "The Pill," and divorce, in her Number One smash "Rated X." She was an inspiration to women (and men) all over America, and sometimes it's easy to forget that the subject matter of her songs was bold and brazen during the time period in which they were hits.
Loretta has always been considered a class act of country music, and she continues to record and expand her horizons long after many of her original peers have faded into memory. In 2004, her critically acclaimed album Van Lear Rose saw her team up with Jack White of the renowned rock band The White Stripes, who had been a huge Lynn fan for years. The Grand Dame of Country Music continues to shine, and she has a long history of commercial success and critical praise to be proud of. More importantly, though, she is an artist who made a difference, blazed new trails, and embodied an independent spirit, and those are the reasons she is the most unforgettable female singer in the history of this great music.