They’ve dominated the world of country music for generations, leaving behind a trail-blazing legacy for the rising young female country singers of the day. From chart-topping hits to award-winning albums and sold-out tours, these women have left their mark in the history of country music.
Who are the current top female country singers? Who are some older female country singers who remain forever a part of country music history?
Find out below.
18. Miranda Lambert
Miranda Lambert burst onto the country music scene following her third-place win during the former singing competition Nashville Star. She quickly became one of the leading female country singers of the 2000s.
Her inaugural album, Kerosene, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums charts. Her success has only continued with her follow-up albums, establishing herself as a sassy vocalist and accomplished songwriter.
Her multiple award wins, including Female Vocalist of the Year at the CMA Awards, have made her one of the current top female country singers of the day.
Miranda, we’ll never be “Over You.”
17. Deana Carter
“Strawberry Wine,” anybody?
You can’t think of the female country singers of the 90s without mentioning Deana Carter.
Her 1995 debut album Did I Shave My Legs for This? brought about several hits for the young singer, including the title track, “We Danced Anyway,” and, perhaps her most popular, “Strawberry Wine.”
16. Linda Ronstadt
Although she dabbled in multiple genres throughout her career, including rock, light opera, pop, and more, Linda Ronstadt made a splash in the country music world as well.
She released her first country hit, “Silver Threads and Golden Needles,” in 1973.
In 1987, she came together with fellow artists Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton to release the Trio album. It won a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in December 2020.
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15. Barbara Mandrell
She was country when country wasn’t cool, which led her to be one of the most successful female country singers of the 1970s and 80s.
Although she hasn’t been active since 2000, she continues to be remembered and honored for her role in blazing the trail for the female country singers of today.
Related: The 15 Best Male Country Singers: A Definitive List
14. June Carter Cash
Although she is most known for being a member of the famous Carter Family and the second wife of Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash has earned her spot as a top female country singer in her own right.
Not only is she a highly praised songwriter, most famously for her husband’s hit “Ring of Fire,” she was also an accomplished musician on the guitar, banjo, harmonica, and autoharp.
Related: Johnny Cash’s Complete Story of Life and Death
13. Faith Hill
With hits like “This Kiss,” “Breathe,” “Cry,” and “The Way You Love Me,” there’s a reason Faith Hill is one of the top female country singers with more than 40 million albums sold worldwide.
Upon meeting fellow country artist Tim McGraw, whom she wed in 1996, the two released multiple chart-topping duets over the next two-and-a-half decades, such as “It’s Your Love,” “Let’s Make Love,” and “I Need You.”
Their highly anticipated duets album, The Rest of Our Life, was released in 2017 and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the Top Country Albums. It sold 98,000 copies in the first week of its release.
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12. Alison Krauss
Skilled at vocals and the violin, Alison Krauss had a lot to offer when she broke into the country music industry, signing her first record deal at the tender age of 14.
Since then, Krauss has released 14 albums, been featured on several motion picture soundtracks, and brought the world of bluegrass back into the spotlight.
For many years, Krauss held the title of the most Grammy awards in the history of the multi-genre award show by a female artist, with 27 Grammy Awards out of 42 nominations.
Although Queen B Beyoncé beat that streak in 2021, Krauss is still the fourth-highest-winning artist across any genre.
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11. Shania Twain
You can’t list the best female country singers of the 1990s and not include Shania Twain.
Massive hits like “Any Man of Mine,” “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” and “From This Moment On” helped her become the best-selling female country artist of all time with more than 100 million records sold.
Her third studio album Come On Over remains in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest-selling studio album by a female solo artist.
It’s no wonder her net worth has soared to $400 million in 2023.
All we can say is, “Ka-Ching!”
Related: Shania Twain’s Net Worth: How the Popular Country Pop Singer Made Her Millions
10. Tanya Tucker
Tanya Tucker was just a young girl, at the tender age of 13, when she released her hit single “Delta Dawn.”
Even as she grew into adulthood, she remained popular with audiences throughout the 1970s and 1980s, with several Top 10 and Top 40 hits such as “Blood Red and Goin’ Down,” “Lizzie and the Rainman,” and “Strong Enough to Bend.”
9. Tammy Wynette
Tammy Wynette, who is one of the older female country singers on our list, is one of many female country singers that took over the 1970s with hits such as “I Don’t Wanna Play House,” “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” and the self-written “Stand By Your Man.”
Wynette also saw great success in her partnership with George Jones, whom she was married to from 1969 to 1975.
The two recorded several No. 1 singles, including “We’re Gonna Hold On” and “Golden Ring.”
8. Patsy Cline
We’re “Crazy” for you, Patsy!
Patsy Cline’s career may have been short-lived, with the main portion of her success coming in the 1950s, but this old female country singer still finds her way into the hearts of country fans and artists alike. Young female country singers of today still often pay tribute to her on stage.
Related: The Best Female Musicians of All time
7. Martina McBride
Martina McBride is another of the top female country singers of the 90s and 2000s.
Her powerhouse vocals dominated the radio waves with upbeat love songs such as “My Baby Loves Me” and “Safe in the Arms of Love” to heart-wrenching ballads such as “Broken Wing” and “Concrete Angel.”
Although she hasn’t released any new music in recent years, she remains active with her popular cookbooks and is back on tour again alongside Wynonna Judd for The Judds: The Final Tour.
6. Reba McEntire
Queen of the country narrative, Reba McEntire has secured her places as one of the top female country singers of all time, both past and present.
Hits such as “Fancy,” “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” and “Is There Life Out There” solidify her place on any best female country singers list.
Exploding onto the country music scene in the mid-1970s, this red-headed firecracker isn’t slowing down. She released her 33rd studio album in 2021 and is currently on her 18th headlining tour.
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5. The Judds
Since gracing us with classic songs such as “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)” and “Mama He’s Crazy,” the mother/daughter duo of Naomi and Wynonna Judd have solidified their place in our hearts as one of the top female country singers both together and apart.
One of the most successful acts in country music history, The Judds have given us six studio albums and taken home five Grammy Awards for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and nine Country Music Association Awards and charted more than 20 singles together.
Although they stopped performing regularly in 1991 following Naomi Judd’s diagnosis with Hepatitis C, they still made appearances from time to time.
The duo was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Apr. 30, 2022.
Sadly, the day prior, Naomi Judd was found dead of an apparent suicide following a long battle with mental health.
Wynonna Judd has fiercely continued with the group’s legacy since, continuing with The Judds: The Final Tour.
4. Carrie Underwood
On Aug. 8, 2004, a 21-year-old girl from the small town of Checotah, Oklahoma, took a leap of faith when she auditioned for a little show called American Idol.
Carrie Underwood quickly won our hearts, coming out on top and taking the country music world by storm. And she hasn’t failed to deliver since.
In her nearly 20 years in the spotlight, she has become the most awarded country singer of all time, with eight Grammy Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, 16 Academy of Country Music Awards, 17 American Music Awards, nine Country Music Association Awards, seven Teen Choice Awards, five CMT Artists of the Year awards, and 23 CMT Music Awards.
3. Kitty Wells
It may not be God who made Honky Tonk Angels, but we’re sure glad God made Kitty Wells.
When she released her record “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” in 1952, it proved a barrier breaker for the future women of country music. The hit established her as the genre’s first female superstar as it topped the U.S. country charts.
She was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991, making history as the first female (eighth female overall) country singer to receive the award and the third country singer overall after Roy Acuff and Hank Williams.
There’s no doubt any other women on our list would be as big as they are if it weren’t for this great female country star.
2. Dolly Parton
With her soft soprano and country twang, it’s easy to fall in love with Dolly Parton. She’s also as strong of a songwriter as she is a singer.
Who else on this list is talented enough to give us “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” in one fell swoop?
Her partnership with Porter Wagoner generated 13 studio albums and 21 chart-topping singles, including the No. 1 hit “Please Don’t Stop Loving Me,” which they co-wrote.
Related: Dolly Parton Net Worth, Height, Career, and More
1. Loretta Lynn
Could we pick anyone other than the Coal Miner’s Daughter as our No. 1 top female country singer of all time?
Considered a living legend until her death in October of 2022, Loretta Lynn was the voice of women everywhere for more than 60 years with hits such as “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man),” “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Loving’ on Your Mind),” and “Fist City.”
No wonder she became the first female country singer to be nominated for and win the Country Music Association’s highest honor – Entertainer of the Year.
And it wasn’t just her success as a solo artist that reigns supreme.
Her long-time partnership with Conway Twitty, which brought us duets such as “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man,” and “After the Fire is Gone,” rivaled those of other popular duos such as Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, and George Jones and Tammy Wynette.
She will forever remain our “Blue Kentucky Girl.”
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