IYCMI, the 48th Annual CMA Awards took place last night, and there was no shortage of noteworthy moments. Miranda Lambert was basically queen for the evening, nabbing four CMA Awards and performing two songs (one of which was “All About That Bass” with doo-wop songstress Meghan Trainor. Catch it here).
Even though there was a fair amount of genre blending (pop powerhouse Ariana Grande performed with Little Big Town), there was also no shortage of classic country moments. The legendary Loretta Lynn joined Kacey Musgraves for a live performance, singing Lynn’s 1971 single, “You’re Lookin’ At Country.” Lynn, now 82, was met with the kind of deafening applause only a true country superstar could warrant. Would you expect anything less?
Since we’re still reeling from Loretta Lynn’s performance, we thought we’d pay homage to a few of the other empowering ladies of country music. From contemporaries like Caitlin Rose to country royalty like Patsy Cline, we’ve certainly got enough inspiration to get us through to next week.
1. Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn was known to break a few barriers in her day. She staked her claim as the queen of contention with the official release of her song, “The Pill” (1975). The song, which advocated women’s birth control, was rather provocative for the time. In spite of the song’s playful spirit, the taboo subject was met with pushback. “The Pill” was banned from quite a few radio stations, but remained hugely influential. In her 1975 interview with Playgirl Magazine, Lynn claimed “medical professionals routinely told her that ‘The Pill’ had done more to promote rural acceptance of birth control than any official medical or social services efforts.” Aside from her marked bravery and advocacy for women’s rights, Loretta’s 50-year career has been an inspiration to country music singers across the board.
2. Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline is one of the most visible pillars of country music. Her silky-smooth voice and timeless sophistication made her one of the first women of the country crossover movement. Even after her untimely death in 1963, she remains an inspiration to artists of every genre. Her legacy lives on, having had songs like “Leavin’ on Your Mind” covered by the likes of Loretta Lynn, Rissi Palmer, and LeAnn Rimes. And let’s not forget the Sharam/Kid Cudi remixed cover of her song, “Strange” [renamed “She Came Along”]. Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys also covered it. How’s that for influence?
3. Dolly Parton
From her infinite wisdom, to her timeless hits, down to her unapologetic blonde wigs, Dolly Parton is the embodiment of bravery. She tackled the double standards of women early on with her 1968 hit, “Just Because I’m A Woman”. True to form, Dolly cheekily sings, “My mistakes are no worse than yours/ Just because I’m a woman/So when you look at me/Don’t feel sorry for yourself/Just think of all the shame/You might have brought somebody else“. Considering the song’s time, “Just Because I’m A Woman” was a [much-needed] slap in the face. Knowing Dolly, we can’t help but think that it was done with love.
4. Kacey Musgraves
Kacey appropriately took the stage with Ms. Lynn at the CMAs. We say appropriately because just like Loretta Lynn opened country music’s mind to topics like birth control, Kacey Musgraves is doing the same for 21st century girl power and LGBT acceptance. Her song “Follow Your Arrow” was an award-winning hit with kickass lyrics like “So make lots of noise/ Kiss lots of boys/ Or kiss lots of girls/ If that’s something you’re into.” We have a feeling Kacey is nowhere near done making lots of noise, and we couldn’t be happier about it.
5. Reba McEntire
What can’t this woman do? Not only is Reba McEntire an accomplished actress, she’s also sold over 80 million records worldwide. I guess that’s what happens when you’re a country music staple for four decades and counting. Though she’s known to have a sense of humor, she’s certainly no stranger to tough times. In 2001, McEntire released “I’m A Survivor,” a song that tells the story of “A single mom who works two jobs / Who loves her kids and never stops“. Although McEntire didn’t write the song, it’s message was empowering for many single mothers, including Reba. Marshall Bowden of PopMatters stated the song “rings truer coming from her than it would from the likes of Hill and Twain”. Those of you who watched her WB sitcom Reba back in the day may recognize “I’m A Survivor” as the show’s theme song.
6. Caitlin Rose
With the ambitions of becoming a punk rocker, Caitlin Rose quite literally changed her tune when she grew to love the simplicity of country. In a 2010 interview, Rose compared the two genres, noting their “very simple chords” and songs “about being pissed off or drunk.” Though Caitlin has since dug her heels into country, she still maintains that punk rock attitude — though it’s contained in the form of smooth and folksy songs. Needless to say, it’s nice to see a different energy and a new kind of songstress occupy the country music scene.