The 1960s in the country music industry had it all. That era gave rise to enduring duets, magnificent vocal performances, and classic songs that will never be forgotten. Some of the best female country singers of the 60s created many of these timeless hits. So in this article, we’re going to share with you our favorite female singers from this great decade in country music!
Best Female Country Singers of the 60s
Let’s kick this off by talking about Tammy Wynette.
The lovely “First Lady of Country Music,” as she was so fondly referred to, is considered to be among country music’s most successful artists. More than that, she’s considered an incredibly influential artist. Wynette has a unique voice that country music lovers won’t soon forget.
Among the first women to change the way women in country music are perceived, Tammy Wynette faced quite a lot of criticism. After leaving an unhappy marriage, she pursued her career in country music in Nashville. Then, after quite a few setbacks, she was on her way in the country music industry.
Shortly after, she released several memorable hits, including: Apartment #9 (her first single), Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad, I Don’t Wanna Play House, D-I-V-O-R-C-E, and the controversial piece Stand By Your Man. Of these few, Stand By Your Man received the most criticism from the feminist movement, who found the song too conservative.
Her setbacks did not stop her success, though. Tammy Wynette has sold over 30 million records across the globe. Wynette was one of the first female country artists to have gold and platinum discs, having received two Grammy Awards, three Country Music Association Awards, and two Academy of Country Music Awards. Before her death, she was quite unstoppable. If you’re looking for one of the top female country singers of all time, look no further than Tammy Wynette.
Margie Singleton, born in 1935, reached the height of her career in the 1960s. The common phrase, “Life begins at 40,” really doesn’t apply to Singleton. After seven decades in the music industry, Margie Singleton is still going strong well into her 80s. Singleton undeniably captured the hearts of country music fans everywhere.
The 60s, however, were Singleton’s shining era. Her 1959-1960 singles, Nothin’ But True Love and The Eyes of Love, set her on her journey to release further country music hits. After moving to Nashville in 1960, Singleton performed several extraordinary duets with artists like George Jones.
Throughout the 60s, she continued to produce unforgettable records, and even began jumping genres. After her divorce, she continued to exceed expectations in the music industry. Singleton co-wrote several charted singles and solo wrote a few as well. All while juggling her home life of children and husband.
Sara Carter was part of the incredibly famous Carter Family singing group, formed in 1927. She was later married to A.P. Carter. They were later joined by Ezra Carter, his brother, and her cousin Maybelle. The Carter family disbanded after a divorce and the beginning of a second marriage.
However, years later, Maybelle and Sara reunited in 1966 to release a few songs. They continued to perform together throughout the 60s, working their way from the East to the West Coast. Later in life, Carter was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970 by way of the original Carter Family.
Carter recorded approximately 300 songs, and was later inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 1970 by Bill Clinton. She was the first major female singer in commercial country music, and will forever be remembered as such. Her legacy lives on almost five decades after her death, and will continue to pave the way for female country music singers for years to come.
The songs of Sara Carter and the Carter Family are ones that won’t soon be forgotten. Her unique bluegrass monotone vocals set her apart from the others in the band, however. She and the family set the pace for similar music to this day.
Maybelle Carter was an American country musician, with a career that won’t soon be forgotten.
Maybelle Addington, “Mother” Maybelle Carter married Ezra Carter and joined as an original member of the Carter Family band. She was among the first to use Carter scratch, turning the guitar into a lead instrument.
After the Carter Family was disbanded, Carter began touring with her three daughters, creating the group “The Carter Sisters and Mother Maybelle.” Then, she later returned to the revived “Carter Family,” frequently touring with artists like Johnny Cash.
Five decades later, Maybelle Carter is still a household name in the south. Not only did she create amazing music with family and friends, but her legacy lives on in many other ways as well. Her daughter, June Carter Cash, even created a cookbook in her honor. While society tends to forget about women as they age, or even treat them as irrelevant, Carter set a precedent for women to be remembered in country music.
June Carter Cash
Then we have the lovely June Carter Cash, of “The Carter Sisters and Mother Maybelle.” Carter Cash was a five-time Grammy award-winner and also a member of the Carter Family band. Carter Cash was also the second wife of the legendary country singer Johnny Cash. Later in life, she was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame.
Several of Carter Cash’s songs were immediate hits. On top of the songs she herself recorded, she also wrote the hit song, Ring of Fire, later to be sung by her husband, Johnny Cash. Carter Cash was known for her exaggerated breaths when singing, even releasing a few comical songs featuring the breathing.
Over the years, she duetted with Cash on many songs. Together they created an album, Carry On with Johnny Cash and June Carter. Later, she became a regular on “The Johnny Cash Show” from 1969 to 1971. After her death, she lives on through the songs and charity work she did over the years. She dedicated a generous portion of her life to making a difference in children’s lives around the world.
Considered to be not only one of the women, but in general, one of the most influential voices in country music history is the lovely Patsy Cline. While she had a short stent, her memory lives on in the music she made during that time. She not only made herself known in country music, but crossed over into pop as well.
In 1960, Cline became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Hits like I Fall to Pieces, She’s Got You, So Wrong, Leavin on Your Mind, and When I Get Through with You were released in the years leading up to her horrific death. But death didn’t stop Patsy’s legacy.
In the decades to follow, Patsy Cline is one of the most celebrated and respected performers of the 20th century. Artists, in the years since her death, have been influenced by her music. Especially the women of country music. Since then, she’s gone on to win many awards and even became the first woman to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Patsy Cline will not soon be forgotten by country music lovers. Her voice, deep and breathy, can be recognized immediately when you hear her. Walkin’ After Midnight is one of her more popular pieces, alongside her come-hither song, Crazy. Everything about them screams unique and captivating.
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Loretta Lynn, born in 1932, is still making history in country music. Born and raised in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky to a coal miner and his wife, Lynn began her music career in the 60s. Her first record, I’m a Honky Tonk Girl, was released in February 1960. Her twang captured all her fans’ hearts. There’s nothing quite like a voice like hers.
From there, her career took flight. Her unforgettable voice made hearts melt as a solo act and as a duet partner. She went on to release Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin (With Lovin’ on Your Mind) and her most memorable, Coal Miner’s Daughter. Most of her music was inspired by the struggles she faced in her marriage and her life.
Lynn also turned heads with some controversial material, pushing the conservative boundaries of the country music genre. Country music radio stations even attempted to blacklist her, banning nine of her songs. But she persisted and continued to win multiple awards, and even had a movie named after her song, Coal Miner’s Daughter.
Connie Smith, an American country music singer and songwriter, is well known for her contralto vocals. Smith has even been compared to the lovely Patsy Cline. Smith was discovered in the early 60s by RCA Victor Records and began her memorable career. Her first recording session included four hit songs. Only days later, she debuted on the Grand Ole Opry for the first time.
Smith, in 1968, turned to Christianity to bring her solace in her professional and personal life. Soon after, she cut back on her touring schedule and dedicated more time to her family and religion. However, her music career didn’t stop. She began recording gospel music in the 70s and continued her rocky career.
The common ups and downs of any artist’s career affected her. She went through a couple of record companies and then jumped over to pop music. However, she continues to have a successful career and be an inspiration to women everywhere.
Considered one of country music’s most groundbreaking and influential female artists, Dottie West’s career started in the 1960s. West was known for her music and her performances, especially with Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. In 1965, she even won a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for her top-10 hit, Here Comes My Baby.
West continued her career, later providing Coca-Cola with several advertisements and even winning awards for those. She later crossed over to country pop and continued her successful career. Later in life, she began having financial struggles, but that didn’t stop her.
Her tragic death left fans devastated. Though she has passed, her legacy lives on through other artists. West was then one of the first women to be honored with the Female Golden Legacy Award. Patsy Cline, West’s mentor, was the other. Now, she is celebrated in her hometown every October with the Dottie West Music Festival.
The gorgeous Lynn Anderson is most commonly remembered for her signature recording of Rose Garden. Anderson followed in the footsteps of her mother, country artist Liz Anderson. After a performance with her mother, Anderson was signed to a recording contract with Chart Records in 1966.
After signing, she recorded her first top-10 hit single, If I Kiss You (Will You Go Away). Shortly after that, she became a cast member of “The Lawrence Welk Show,” for which she performed country music weekly on a national level. Anderson can be remembered for sharing her music with the world. She continued to make appearances on other shows as well.
Lynn Anderson released an incomprehensible number of songs. She went on to receive numerous awards and was ranked as a crossover artist on the “Rolling Stone’s” list of the 100 Greatest Country Artists of All Time. Anderson was also recognized on CMT’s 40 Greatest Women of Country Music! She left an unforgettable mark on country music history.
Kitty Wells, an American female country music singer, was a pioneer, breaking into the genre for women. Wells’ career broke down the first barrier with her first country music in 1952 with It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels. This song was also the first of several pop crossovers and propelled her to the top of the female vocalist charts for 14 consecutive years.
Wells paved the way for women to make their names known in the country music industry. The peak of her career began in the 50s and continued all the way through the 60s. Through the 60s, she began to not only record solo material, but she also put a great deal into recording duets with both men and women of her time. Some of the duets began to raise questions about the male-female double standard of country music at that time.
Kitty Wells even managed to become the first female country music artist to receive her own television show, “The Kitty Wells/Johnnie Wright Family Show.” Sadly, Wells passed away in 2012. But, there’s no doubt that her dedication to fans and her groundbreaking success will never be forgotten. She continues to be a legend in the hearts of the women in country music.
Dolly Parton—now, that name should ring a bell in almost every country music fan’s ears. Dolly was born in “the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains” in 1946. While her career started a bit slower, with her first album not being released until 1967, it only gained momentum from there.
Besides her musical voice, Miss Parton also has talents that are incomparable. She has a knack for entertainment and she is downright sweet to everyone she meets. Besides her musical career, she burst into Hollywood with a smile on her face to star in the working women’s movie “9 to 5.”
Dolly didn’t stop there, though. She went on to act in quite a few movies, perform with other famous country music artists, cross over into pop, and open a dinner theater (Dolly’s Dixie Stampede). She even opened her own amusement park, Dollywood, in “the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains,” where she won’t soon be forgotten. But, her career hasn’t ended.
Dolly continues to reinvent herself to become an ally to many different causes. She is a God-fearing, gay-loving, authentic woman who continues to be a role-model for upcoming female country music artists. Because with Parton, it’s not just about her voice and her music, it’s about the person and influence she became through her hard work and dedication.
The 1960s were a new time for country music. Before that, women really didn’t make headway into the industry. But these women broke through the barrier and made themselves known. They became the best female country singers of the 60s and will always be remembered in the hearts of fans everywhere.