Country music has produced a host of major stars over the years. Consequently, choosing the most famous female Country singers of all time has been no easy task. To keep things simple, I have therefore chosen the most successful from a recording perspective, though I did still find the space to slide in one of my favorites too.
I hope you enjoy my selection. So, let’s get to it and take a look at our first famous female Country singer.
Top 8 Most Famous Female Country Singers Of All Time
You don’t get any more famous or any more Country than Dolly Parton. There are plenty of Country artists, but Dolly Parton is undoubtedly the first that most people think of. Consequently, Dolly is the perfect singer to kick off my list of the biggest female Country singers.
She was born in Tennessee in 1946 to a very poor family and with Country oozing out of every pore. Dolly started to sing at just ten years old, and now, even in her 70s, she continues to record and perform incredible music.
Her recording career began in 1967 with the release of her debut album, Hello, I’m Dolly. It made it to #11 on the Billboard Country charts, and from that moment, she never looked back.
Dolly Parton is a great singer, but she is an even better songwriter…
Over the years, she has written some huge hits. The biggest of these included “Jolene,” “Here You Come Again,” and the monster hit released in 1974, “I Will Always Love You.”
The last of these sold well as an original release. However, in 1992, Whitney Houston covered the song in the movie, The Bodyguard. This starred Whitney Houston, kind of playing herself, opposite Kevin Costner, who played, as you might have guessed, her bodyguard.
The movie was huge, but Whitney’s version of “I Will Always Love You” went crazy. With the undoubted help of the movie, it sold a mind-boggling 20 million copies and, in the process, became the best-selling song by a female artist.
In this instance, as a songwriter…
The song is just one of many highlights in Dolly Parton’s glittering career that has seen her produce Country hit after hit. She has been making music for 60 years, and in that time, she has rarely been out of the single or album charts.
Her body of work is frankly astounding. She has 52 albums and 243 singles to her name. Additionally, the amount of critical acclaim she has received over the years is staggering. To date, she has been nominated for 382 awards and has won 189. Truly, one of the most successful female Country singers ever.
There is only one other artist to have sold more records. Who is that? I hear you say. That would be Taylor Swift, whom we are now going to move on to.
Taylor Swift’s impact on Country music cannot be underestimated. She was born in 1989, but in less than 20 years, as a recording and performing artist, she has managed to sell 200 million records.
She’s also picked up eleven Grammys, 40 American Music Awards, an Emmy, and 29 Billboard Music Awards. There are other awards and nominations, but I think you get the idea.
Although she is a great singer…
…and has a beautifully versatile and expressive voice; she is also an unbelievably talented songwriter. Her songs and music undoubtedly strike a very large chord with a huge audience.
What I’m also impressed with is the fact that she has also made playing the guitar cool for girls. Sadly, the music world has a dearth of female guitarists, so it is great to see an artist championing the cause and getting girls interested in trying it for themselves.
Picking a highlight from her stunning career is difficult…
However, I think the best place to start is right at the beginning with her debut album, Taylor Swift, which was released in 2006. This undoubtedly gave everyone a glimpse of what was to come, as it was an instant success. It got to #1 on the US Billboard Country charts and sold over seven million copies globally.
Her second album, released in 2008, Fearless, was even more successful. That made it to #1 on the main US charts as well as in several other countries. Additionally, it sold more than 11 million copies. Plus, it included three Top 10 singles, “Fearless,” “You Belong to Me,” and “Love Story.”
Her popularity has never waned, and she still sells in big numbers…
Taylor’s most successful album is 1989, which came out in 2014 and sold 14 million copies. These days, she is the most streamed artist of any genre. She already has more than 34 billion streams on Spotify and has two songs that have achieved a billion streams. These are “Blank Space” and “I Don’t Want to Live Forever.”
It must be said that Taylor also makes great Pop records. However, her soul is in Country, and very few of her songs don’t feature at least some element of it. She is an incredible artist and a shining example of new Country musicians rising to the top.
Carrie Underwood sings mostly Country. However, just like Taylor Swift, she also wanders into singing Pop and Gospel. However, on the whole, this is much less so than Taylor Swift. Consequently, of the two singers, Carrie Underwood is probably a little more Country.
Incidentally, for whatever reason, it appears the two of them don’t get on at all. It’s rumored to be the result of Taylor overhearing a derogatory comment about her past relationship with Calvin Harris, which Carrie Underwood described as a “fauxmance.” That’s actually quite funny.
We all know and love Carrie Underwood for her appearance on the fourth season of American Idol, which she ultimately won. Since then, she has gone on to become one of the most recognizable female Country singers of all time.
After winning American Idol…
She released her debut album in 2005, Some Hearts. It went to #1 on just about every Country chart everywhere in the world and sold over nine million copies. This also made it the most successful Country debut album for a solo female artist.
The album contained the hit singles “Jesus Takes the Wheel,” “Some Hearts,” and “Before He Cheats.” These were all huge songs that helped her to solidify her position as a Country and global superstar.
Carrie Underwood has managed to make the difficult transition to mainstream almost seamlessly. In the process, she has become of the most famous female Country singers of all time. She has also become one of the most sought-after live performers and has quickly amassed over 70 million in album sales. Good job, girl!
Patsy Cline was a major influence on Country music. She was one of the first Country artists to cross over into other genres. In many ways, she paved the way for future County singers like Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.
Patsy achieved much during her life, which was sadly very short. She was born in 1932 and died at just 30 years of age. She was killed during a plane crash in 1963. At the time of her death, she had only been recording for a mere eight years but left behind her a legacy that is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon.
She released just three studio albums during her short life…
The first of these was in 1957 and called Patsy Cline. Her second album, Showcase, released in 1961, contained two of her biggest hits. These were “I Fall to Pieces” and “Crazy.”
Of the two songs, it was “Crazy” that became her signature song and her most successful. It made it into the Billboard Top 10 and has since become a Country standard and one of the most covered Country songs of all time.
It is a testament to her talent that, despite her short career, over 50 albums have been released posthumously, as well as numerous singles.
Shania Twain is another well-known female Country singer who has found the magic formula for success on the mainstream charts. That, in turn, has resulted in her becoming one of the most famous female country singers of all time and one of the best-selling.
She has sold more than 100 million albums, so is right up there with Dolly Parton. Shania released her first album in 1993, the self-titled Shania Twain. Although it went on to sell more than a million copies, upon its release, it received almost no interest.
That contrasts sharply with her next three albums, whose sales were nothing short of spectacular. Her second studio album, released in 1995, The Woman In Me, sold more than 20 million copies and made her a global superstar. It also included eight hit singles and won her a Grammy.
That was impressive, but what came next was crazy…
Her third album, released in 1997, Come On Over, became the best-selling Country album of all time. Furthermore, it became the seventh best-selling album of all time. It also contained her biggest hit, “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” along with other hits, “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” and “You’re Still The One.”
Shania Twain is now knocking on the door of 60 but is still hugely popular as both a recording act and a performer. She has had a series of breaks in her career, but she is currently in her second Las Vegas residency, which has been running for over six years.
Finally, her amazing career has bagged her five Grammys and 222 awards in total.
Faith Hill was born in 1967 and first started performing in 1993. She released her first album, Take Me As I Am, in the same year that she turned professional. Her second album, It Matters to Me, was released two years later in 1995.
Both of the albums were well-received in the Country community and subsequently made it into the Top 10 on the Country charts. They also charted in the Top 100 on the Billboard charts.
Her first two albums were a great start to her career. But, it was her third album, Faith, released in 1998, that marked her arrival as a global star and saw her crossover onto the mainstream charts. The album made it to #2 on the Country charts, #7 on the Billboard charts, and sold six million copies.
Things only got better from this point…
Her following three albums, Breath, Cry, and Fireflies, all made it to #1 on both the US Country and Billboard charts. Internationally, they also charted and sold well.
Faith Hill is an excellent songwriter and is blessed with a beautiful voice. She has impeccable vocal control and is also a highly technical singer. Her skill allows her to hold notes, with or without vibrato, for long periods.
Overall, she has a clear tone but with a weighty bottom end…
She has amazing phrasing and expression that are rare, to her standard, in any genre of music. All of her vocal qualities have earned her five Grammys and over 40 million album sales.
That is the same number of album sales as her husband, Tim McGraw, whom she married in 1996. She’s also won a couple more Grammys than Tim McGraw, but I have a feeling that he doesn’t really care. What a Country power couple.
LeAnn Rimes was born in 1982 in Mississippi and started singing at just eight years old. She released her first independent album, All That, when she was only eleven. The album didn’t sell well, but it was good enough to pique the interest of Curb Records, who subsequently signed her.
In 1996, at just thirteen years old, she released Blue. This was her first album with her new record company and is considered by many to be her debut album. However, as we’ve just covered, that’s not strictly the case.
Regardless, the album was a huge success…
It made it to #1 on the US and Canadian Country charts. Additionally, it got to #3 on the Billboard charts and sold six and a half million albums, making it still her best-selling to date.
Blue also received a lot of critical acclaim. Incredibly, it won four awards which included two Grammys for Single Record of the Year and Song of the Year. She was just fourteen years old and remains the youngest male or female to ever win a Grammy.
Her follow-up album, released a year later, You Light Up My Life – Inspirational Songs, sold over four million copies. Her subsequent albums then sold in increasingly lower numbers. However, they still sold at around the million mark, which is nothing to be sneezed at.
After Blue was released…
LeAnn Rimes moved from her Country roots and incorporated more Pop elements into her songs. Judging from her sales, this seems to have been counterproductive. However, it is something she stuck with until 2005, when she returned to Country.
Over the last ten years, she has developed a career in TV and movies. Most notably in movies like “Good Intentions” and TV shows like “Anger Management.” She has also jumped on the Christmas bandwagon and has been making Christmas songs. I won’t list any of them here, though, because, frankly, they are awful.
Finally, she has also become a regular on “Reality TV.” Frankly, for an artist that has sold close to 40 million records, this makes no sense to me at all. With all the talent and ability she has, why would she lower herself to the very worst and base level of entertainment? Stick with the singing girl.
She was born Virginia Wynette Pugh in 1942 but changed her name when she moved to Nashville in search of a recording contract that she secured in 1966.
However, before she reached that point, she had endured a hard life growing up in Mississippi. She had also had to go through a failed marriage and a series of low-paying, dead-end jobs. Plus, she had three young daughters in tow as she looked to pursue her dream.
Luckily, she quickly hooked up with songwriter Don Chappell, who became her second husband. And at around the same time, she secured a recording contract with Epic Records. Her first record was released in 1967, Apartment #9.
She subsequently released a string of hits…
But her best-selling and most memorable songs came out a year later, in 1968. These were “D.I.V.O.R.C.E.” and “Stand By Your Man.” Although she would go on to have twenty #1 singles and eleven #1 albums, it is still these two songs that fundamentally cemented her career and reputation.
There is no small irony in the fact that these were her biggest songs, given that she was married five times and experienced a chaotic and often difficult personal life.
Over her career…
Tammy sold more than 30 million records which came from 89 albums and 69 single releases. Her contribution to Country music was huge. And this was rightly recognized through her induction to the Nashville Songwriters and Country Music Hals of Fame.
Sadly, at just 55 years of age, she passed away. Her death was officially recorded as due to a blood clot in her lungs. However, she had suffered a lifelong battle with pain and addiction to opiates which no doubt was a major contributing factor to her death.
Want to Learn About More Famous Female Singers?
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Most Famous Female Country Singers Of All Time – Final Thoughts
So, there you have it. It is incredible the amount of talent that Country music contains. What is also incredible is that for such a great genre, nearly every Country artist, male and female, was born in the US, with many being born in the south.
Country music still has its roots in the south of the US. However, with many of the best women Country singers of all time being made up of singers with more than a foot in mainstream music, the future of Country looks very bright indeed. And that can only be a good thing.
Until next time, happy listening.