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Female Country Crooners Are Legends Too

Country Music Queen.
Loretta Lynn | A Country Queen

Melodious voice, old rustic feel and chartbusting tracks have made Loretta Lynn what she is today. A star performer, Loretta has had a glorious 50 years of career in which she played a dominant role in changing the world music scenario.

The female country crooners soulful songs gave way to the tracks that kick-started a new genre in music. She played a ground-breaking role in contributing greatly to American folklore. Loretta has been named as the First lady of Country Music.

Loretta Lynn was born to Ted Webb and Clara Marie. She was the second of eight children. Her father worked as a coal miner, storekeeper and farmer. Raised in Butcher Hollow, a coal mining community, she started singing at an early age.

She moved to Washington State along with her husband and family with an aim to look for better work opportunities. It was in 1953 that he brought her a Harmony guitar, which she learned to play. Three years later, after much pursuance from her husband, she started seriously thinking of music as a career. She started improving her guitar playing skills and took up a singing position at the Delta Grange Hall, with Pen Brother’s band - The Westeners.

She soon moved to Nashville in late 1960s where she began cutting demo records for the Wilburn Brothers' Publishing Company. It was while working with the Wilburns that her career witnessed yet another upscale drive as she secured a contract with Decca Records. Soon she became number one in the female country crooners community. Her first single under Decca Records, Success, like its title, was a super successful feather in Loretta's cap.

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Female Country Crooners Superstar
Tammy Wynette | Country Music's Pride

Tammy worked the cotton fields on her family farm at seven. When she was nine, she taught herself to play her father's piano and guitar. It was her only escape from routine farm life. She also sang gospel tunes at church events and on local radio.

Tammy was a teenage bride, marrying Euple Byrd at the age of seventeen. It ended five years later with a divorce and a custody battle. Tammy studied in a Beauty College, borrowing money from her mother. She supported her three children, but it wasn't enough when the youngest developed spinal meningitis.

In 1964, Tammy left her husband and took their children to live with relatives in Birmingham, Alabama. There she supported her family by working in a beauty salon. Soon Tammy landed a part-time spot on a local television show.

Early in her career, Tammy released a number of successful singles which earned her a Grammy Award. In 1968, she won the first of three consecutive Country Music Association female country crooners of the Year honors. Later that year, Tammy released her most famous recording, Stand By Your Man, which peaked at number 1 on the country charts. The blockbuster sold over 2 million copies and became the bestselling single by a woman in the history of country music.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Tammy’s music career continued to flourish with the releases of The First Lady, One of a Kind, Sometimes When We Touch and Next To You. In the early 1990s, Tammy collaborated with the British pop group KLF to create the international dance hit Justified and Ancient and with country superstars Dolly Parton and female country crooners pride, Loretta Lynn. Her album One marked Tammy's last recording with ex-husband George Jones.

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Kitty Wells Memories
Kitty Wells | Her Memory Lives On

Other female country crooners of her day were trying their hands at hard-living and honky-tonk sounds but it was the intense style of Kitty Wells, with her gospel-touched vocals and tearful restraint, that resonated with country audiences.

Born Ellen Muriel Deason in Nashville, Kitty's country roots ran deep. Her father and uncle were country musicians, her mother a gospel singer. Kitty reluctantly dropped out of school to work at the Washington Manufacturing Company.

Thinking primarily of the $125 recording payment, Kitty went into Nashville's Castle Studio in 1952 to record It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels for Decca Records. The single sold more than 800,000 copies.

Subsequent records followed this pattern of deep emotion and restrained hurt expressed from a woman's point of view. Her other classic honky-tonk ballads include Release Me, Making Believe and I Can’t Stop Loving You. Contemporary themes and modern ways were highlights of Kitty's songs. On stage, Kitty was unpretentious, proper and even old-fashioned. In her private life she was family-oriented and without controversy, crisis or scandal.

As one of the top female country crooners of her generation she accumulated thirty-five Billboard Top Ten records and eighty-one charted singles. She even starred in her own syndicated TV show in 1968. Her last major hit was in 1971. Kitty's three children all became part of The Kitty Wells - Johnny Wright Family Show which continued to tour throughout 2000. Kitty and Wright announced their retirement and gave their final performance, on New Year's Eve in 2011.

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Brenda Lee's Music Career
Brenda Lee | Little Miss Dynamite

Brenda was born in the charity ward of Atlanta's Emory University Hospital. She was singing by the time she could talk. In 1953, when her father died, Brenda's singing became a necessity. Around that time she played her first paying gig.

Brenda belted out Hank Williams songs in a voice that belied her age and tiny stature. Working so many late nights her teacher sometimes let Brenda put her head on her desk and nap. In 1956, she landed a national television appearance.

In 1956, Brenda signed with Decca and left for Nashville where Owen Bradley became her producer. The first female country crooners single was Jambalaya followed in 1957 by the explosive Dynamite earning her a massive international audience and the nickname Little Miss Dynamite. A string of Top 10 hits followed, including her signature song I’m Sorry and the classic Rockin Around the Christmas Tree. In the 1970s, Brenda returned to the music she loved in childhood.

Brenda was nominated for a Grammy with Tell Me What It's Like” and again for Broken Trust. Duets with George Jones and Willie Nelson and a collaboration with K.D. Lang, Kitty Wells and Loretta Lynn led to more sales, so that today the female country crooners commercial success, measured by record sales of disks produced in Music City, is second only to Elvis. Brenda was inducted into the Country and Rock & Roll Halls of Fame in 1997 and 2002 respectively.

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The Country Sunshine Girl

Female Country Crooners Dottie West

Known as the Country Sunshine girl after writing and recording a song for a Coca Cola commercial, Dottie West had something of a roller-coaster career ride that saw her rise from the depth of poverty to world-wide success, only to plummet back down.

Dottie was born Dorothy Marie Marsh. After her alcoholic father abandoned the family, her mother opened a small cafe where Dottie began appearing. The bright lights and glamour were a long way from the female country crooners rural upbringing.

After Dottie's graduation, the Wests and their two children moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where Dottie began appearing on the television show Landmark Jamboree as one half of a country vocal duo calling themsalves the Kay-Dots.

Dottie soon landed a publishing deal and a new record contract with Atlantic. The songwriting initially proved more profitable when Jim Reeves took her song Is This Me? into the charts in 1963. That led to an RCA contract and working with Chet Atkins. The female country crooners voice was beginning to be heard extensively on country radio initially with her first Top 40 country hit in 1963, Let Me Off At The Corner followed a year later by the top ten hit Love Is No Excuse.

Dottie became one very sexy lady with her glorious red hair and provocative outfits. When she parted from husband in 1972 and married drummer Bryan Metcalf, who was a dozen years her junior, the female country crooners image underwent a huge metamorphosis. The woman who once performed dressed in conservative gingham dresses started appearing in skin-tight stage attire. Her songs also changed and became far more provocative.

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