Country music through the years has always had a strong female presence. In the 1960s, country music stars like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn ruled the country charts and country fan’s hearts.
Through movies, we have been able to see the rise and tragic fall of Patsy Cline, who died in her 20s in 1963 in a plane crash as she was heading back to Nashville from a show. In 1985, actress Jessica Lange told her story on Sweet Dreams. Lange was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress.
And we all know the story of Loretta Lynn. Sissy Spacek portrayed the country icon in Coal Miner’s Daughter in 1980, and won the Oscar for Best Actress.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Dolly Parton and Barbara Mandrell ruled country music as Mandrell became the first artist to win the CMA Entertainer of the Year Award twice in a row in 1980 and 1981. Lynn was the first woman to win the top award of ETOTY from the CMA in 1972. Between the two, Parton was crowned CMA’s ETOTY in 1978.
When Lainey Wilson won the CMA ETOTY honor in 2023, she talked about Dolly, telling us backstage after her win, “When I went to Dollywood, and I hung out with her a little bit, I told her… I said the CMAs are around the corner. She said, ‘I’ve won one a time or two.’ I mean, Dolly, she’s it. She’s the one that I look to when I think about how to go about this business.
Wilson added, “She’s never been scared to step outside the lines, to step outside the box. But at the same time, she’s completely true to herself and true to her story.”
While Lainey is primed and ready to be the next Queen of Country Music, we gathered five women who made a considerable mark in country music and are forever considered Queens of Country Music: