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:

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  • 5 - Miranda Lambert

    Miranda Lambert

    Lambert has been honored with more Academy of Country Music Awards than any artist in history. Miranda is also a seven-time winner of the CMA’s Female Vocalist of the Year, beating a record once held by Reba. She is also a three-time Grammy winner, with her most recent Grammy win in 2021 for Best Country Album for “Wildcard.” Lambert is currently playing her first Las Vegas residency at Planet Hollywood.

  • 4 - Reba McEntire

    Reba McEntire

    Reba’s superstardom in country music started in the 1980s and is still going strong today. Since the 1970s, McEntire has placed over 100 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, 25 of which reached the number one spot. She has sold 75 million albums in her career. Her career also includes her acting roles: she even had her own sitcom in the early 2000s called Reba. She is currently working on a couple of Lifetime movies and has a role on ABC TV’s Big Sky, where she plays a villain for the first time in her acting career. She has won countless country music awards, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011, and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2018.

  • 3 - Carrie Underwood

    Carrie Underwood

    Carrie is a proud member of the Grand Ole Opry, known as country music’s church, and plays the Opry whenever she can. She has won the Entertainer of the Year honor from the ACM and has sold a whopping 70 million albums in her career since her debut in 2005. Carrie has 42 songs on Billboard and over 25 number-one hits.

  • 2 - Loretta Lynn

    Loretta Lynn

    Loretta started as the first country music “Queen” and the first female to win the coveted Entertainer of the Year Honor from the CMA in 1972. Her remarkable career has spanned six decades and influenced countless country queens, including Dolly and Reba. Loretta, whose life story was chronicled in an Oscar-winning movie Coal Miner’s Daughter in 1980, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988.

  • 1 - Dolly Parton

    Dolly Parton

    Although Loretta came before her, Dolly has sold more than 100 million albums in her long career, which started when she moved to Nashville straight out of high school at age 18. She has influenced countless women who came after her in all genres of music, which is evident by her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next month. Dolly was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1999. She’s won too many awards to name, and her heart is just as big as her wallet as she gives millions of dollars away to those in need, including her million-dollar donation for the COVID vaccine. She also received a Kennedy Center honor in 2006.

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