5 Of The Most Influential Female Musicians Of The 60s to 70s

via Dolly Parton / Youtube

Country music owes a debt of gratitude to the women who lent their voices and stories to shape its evolution. The 1960s and 70s marked a pivotal era for female musicians, with luminaries like Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton emerging not only as singers but as powerful songwriters. Let’s explore the trailblazing journeys of some of the most influential female singer-songwriters from this transformative time.

1. Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton’s name shines bright in the constellation of musical greatness. Rising to prominence as the “girl singer” on the Porter Wagoner Show, Parton proved her mettle as an independent artist and songwriter when she embarked on a solo career in 1974. Her poignant farewell, “I Will Always Love You,” penned as a parting gift to Wagoner, showcased her prowess as a songwriter. This emotional ballad, later immortalized by Whitney Houston, underscores Parton’s status as a timeless songwriter, leaving an indelible mark on both country music and the broader musical landscape.

2. Loretta Lynn

Before Dolly Parton’s ascent, Loretta Lynn paved the way for female songwriters in country music. Bursting onto the scene in 1960 with “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl,” Lynn exhibited a unique talent for crafting authentic stories that resonated deeply. Hits like “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” and “Fist City” cemented her status as a gifted songwriter. The iconic “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” released in 1970, set the stage for a decade of hits such as “Rated X,” “The Pill,” and “You’re Lookin’ at Country.” Lynn’s legacy as a singer-songwriter profoundly influenced generations that followed.

3. Bobbie Gentry

Bobbie Gentry burst onto the scene in 1967 with “Ode to Billie Joe,” a masterful song that captivated audiences with its enigmatic narrative. Her songwriting prowess was further showcased in the timeless classic “Fancy,” later embraced by Reba McEntire. Gentry’s influence extended across her discography, with self-penned tracks on albums like “Ode to Billie Joe” and her subsequent releases. Her indelible mark on country music endures, as her songs continue to resonate with listeners to this day.

4. June Carter Cash

June Carter Cash’s name conjures visions of a revered songwriter. A pivotal member of the iconic Carter Family, she co-wrote the renowned hit “Ring of Fire” with her husband Johnny Cash. In 1971, her self-penned “A Good Man” made its mark on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Collaborating with Johnny Cash, they penned numerous songs for their joint albums, beginning with “Carryin’ On with Johnny Cash & June Carter” in 1967. Carter Cash’s solo endeavors, notably her Grammy-winning 1999 album “Press On,” showcased her talent as a songwriter.

5. Emmylou Harris

Emmylou Harris’s versatile talents spanned multiple genres, with a distinctive contribution to country rock in the 1970s. Her 1970 debut album “Gliding Bird” featured her songwriting prowess in half of its tracks. Collaborating with Bill Danoff, Harris penned the heartfelt “Boulder to Birmingham” following Gram Parsons’s passing in 1975, revealing her ability to craft soul-stirring compositions. Her partnership with Rodney Crowell yielded rich lyrical tapestries, exemplified by deep cuts in her 1970s albums. Harris’s legacy as a sonic and lyrical pioneer continues to reverberate.