Best Female Country Singers Of All-Time: Top 5 Vocalists According To Music Experts

Whether you’re on a road trip or heading out line dancing for the first time with friends, it pays to know the best female country singers of all time. Country singers have been captivating listeners for generations and ladies of country have a lot to do with it. From Honky Tonk to Western Swing, these are the women who have made a mark in the country music industry.

Of course, listening to your favorite songs helps you feel good, but did you know that music can actually boost brain performance? That’s right, according to a recent study, listening to ‘groovy’ music helps boost brain performance. Researchers from the University of Tsukuba in Japan say that music with a groove, or music you can dance to, helps improve your executive brain function and other associated brain activity. The research team says that the only catch to this is you have to be familiar with the songs. Just try not to get ‘groovy’ while you’re driving. 

Speaking of driving and grooving, researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel, recently found that most young adults can’t drive without music playing. The research team examined the driving habits of 140 young adults (ages 18-29) and found that over 75 percent of participants feel driving without music is pretty much ‘impossible.’ 

Researchers also found that nearly every participant prefers listening to several short songs during a long driving trip while around 65 percent of participants enjoy ‘fast-paced’ music on their commute to work. Obviously, this can cause distractions, but scientists say this speaks to our society’s need for constant stimulation. The connection between music and our brains brings us to another study where researchers claim that music is as addictive as fast food, money, and alcohol

Researchers from McGill University explain that pleasant tunes trigger the area of the brain that’s responsible for rewards – the nucleus accumbens. This area of the brain also produces the chemical dopamine, which is partially responsible for decision-making and hedonistic behaviors by controlling addictive urges. That’s not to say that country music is addictive, or maybe it is, we’ll let you be the judge. 

So, which female country vocalists topped the charts in their day? StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 music-oriented and pop-culture websites in an effort to deliver the best female country singers of all time. Our list is comprised of the five most frequently listed country singers from across these sites. And, as always, feel free to share your favorites with us in the comments section below! 

The List: Best Female Country Singers of All Time, Per Critics and Fans

1. Dolly Parton

The top spot on the list goes to perhaps the most influential country singer ever, Dolly Parton. This famous blondie appeared in the top spot across 70 percent of the sites we referenced. Dolly isn’t just known for having one of the best amusement parks in the South, but her iconic status as one of the best in country will last long after she’s gone. 

“Up first we have possibly the greatest of all time, Dolly Parton, who is one of the most recognizable names in music. She is a veteran in the industry, providing us with heartfelt songs since 1967. Parton’s hard work has paid off. Today she has had 44 albums reach the top 10 country albums list—a record amount for musicians, male or female,” explains Hello Music Theory.  

Dolly Parton waves to fans
Dolly Parton arriving to “Joyful Noise” Los Angeles Premeire on January 19, 2012 in Hollywood, CA (Credit: DFree on Shutterstock)

Dolly Parton’s albums are just as iconic as she is. Like a lot of talented musicians and other all-time great singers, Dolly’s success in the music industry started at a very young age. “Parton started performing in church at age six and playing guitar at seven, eventually receiving opportunities to sing on local radio and TV programs. By age 10, Parton was already recording her songs through Goldband Records and made her debut appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, where she met Johnny Cash, one of the best country singers with a deep voice,” adds Audio Captain

With great success comes even greater responsibility, something that Dolly Parton takes very seriously. Dolly’s humanitarian efforts are nearly as great as her chart-topping hits. In fact, some might not be aware that it was Dolly Parton who wrote and sang some of the greatest country love songs of all time.

“[Dolly] has also won many prestigious awards including 11 Grammy awards. While she may have achieved her sales peak in the 1970s and 80s, her music continues to be celebrated today. Parton wrote many of her greatest hits, such as I Will Always Love You, Coat of Many Colors, Jolene, and 9 to 5,” writes Musician Wave.

2. Loretta Lynn

The Coal Miner’s Daughter was the clear choice for second. Simply put, Loretta Lynn is a country music icon. “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,” writes Music In Minnesota

These songs were powerful country chart-topping hits in their day. In fact, Loretta Lynn is responsible for some of the most powerful female country songs in history. But, Loretta Lynn’s music was about more than chart toppers, she was the voice of a generation of country music fans. “Growing up in Kentucky’s Butcher Holler, Loretta Lynn didn’t have to search far for inspiration. She married and had four kids all before she released her first single, Honky Tonk Girl. Taking from her own life experience (Coal Miner’s Daughter, Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin‘) Lynn went on to write some of the best country songs ever written,” adds Wide Open Country

Loretta Lynn album cover
Loretta Lynn album cover. (Photo by Nesster is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Like many of the female country singers of her day, Loretta Lynn partnered with Conway Twitty. Together, Twitty and Lynn were country music magic. “You can’t talk about country music without mentioning the ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter,’ Loretta Lynn. From her legendary partnership with Conway Twitty to her solo work, she has had 10 number-one country albums with iconic tracks,” adds Music Grotto.  

3. Reba McEntire

The red-headed country legend appeared on 70 percent of the sites we referenced and for good reason. Reba is recognizable by her first name alone, and that notoriety even helped her land her own TV show. Through it all, Reba has remained true to her country music roots. 

image of Reba McEntire
Reba McEntire (Photo by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

“Reba has sold over 75 million records worldwide. Since the 1970s, McEntire has placed over 100 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, 25 of which reached the number one spot. Aside from music, Reba is also a well-known TV and film actress. She starred in the television series Reba, which aired on the CW network for six seasons,” explains Country 102.5

It’s hard to believe that Reba has been singing since the 1970s. In that time, Reba McEntire has steadily produced hits. “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,” adds Music in Minnesota

The Queen moniker has stuck with Reba, too. However, much of Reba’s success is due to her natural ability to tell a story with her songs, embodying the persona of the country lifestyle in the process. “Known as the Queen of Country, Reba McEntire has earned this title after releasing an astonishing 34 studio albums since her career started in 1977. McEntire has created a career around songs about love, heartbreak, and family. These themes are also seen in her work as an actress. She most famously portrayed Reba Hart, a divorced mother trying to find her way,” writes Hello Music Theory

4. Patsy Cline

Humming into the fourth spot is the legendary Patsy Cline. The singer is responsible for some of the most iconic country music songs of all time and is beyond deserving of her place as one of the best. “Patsy Cline is a country icon and one of the most influential female vocalists of the 20th century. She was one of the first country music artists to cross over into pop music, and her songs climbed both pop and country charts,” explains Midder Music

image of a Patsy Cline poster
Patsy Cline poster (Photo by Nesster is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

The way Patsy Cline discovered her voice sounds like the plot from a cheesy Hollywood movie. Still, Patsy took her talent to the next level by recording some of the most iconic country songs ever. “At 13, Cline experienced a severe throat infection and developed rheumatic fever, putting her in the hospital. However, when she recovered, her voice became even more powerful… Then, in 1954, she signed a record deal with Four Star Records and started releasing music. Cline’s most iconic hits include Leavin’ On Your Mind, Walkin’ After Midnight, I Fall To Pieces, and Crazy,” adds Audio Captain.  

Cline recorded these hits before she was lost in a tragic plane crash. “Although Patsy Cline’s career was tragically cut short at the age of 30, her eight-year recording career cemented her place as one of the most influential singers of the 20th century. She was also one of the first country music singers to cross over to pop music…. Cline had a powerful contralto voice and was acclaimed for the emotion she brought to her singing,” adds Musician Wave

5. Carrie Underwood 

The former American Idol winner is one of the most decorated female singers of all time. “While some American Idol winners fizzle out with time, Underwood has maintained her chart-topping success. Her career has gone on for nearly two decades, earning her over a hundred awards from various organizations, which has given Underwood the outstanding title of the most awarded country singer of all time,” writes Hello Music Theory

True, Carrie Underwood shot to stardom on American Idol. Despite that early success, Carrie Underwood continues to put in the work, decades later. Underwood’s list of accomplishments just keeps growing. “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,” explains Music in Minnesota

Carrie Underwood in concert
Carrie Underwood in concert. (Photo by by Thomas Hawk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Finding a way to stay this successful in this day and age is hard but Carrie Underwood has been able to do just that. From her accolades to her singing skills to her ability to put on award-winning live performances, Carrie Underwood has solidified her place as one of the best female country singers of all time. “Let’s be honest; Carrie has a fantastic voice, beauty, and excellent songwriting skills, and she sure knows how to put on a show. She proved that with the glowing reviews of her 2022 Las Vegas show at Resorts World. She is the most-awarded country artist of all time,” adds Country 102.5

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  1. Dolly, give us all a break! Honestly she wished she sounded like nails on a chalkboard. I went to her park once, her music was speaker everywhere! I was taken out in a straightjacket!

  2. Your choices are great. But how we can leave out the woman who started it all. THE TOP QUEEN. KITTY WELLS.

    1. You all would gripe if hung with a new rope. They are all wonderful singers and should be recognized. Dont disparage what you clearly cannot do.

  3. If we’re talking about straight up vocals none of this list of women can hold a tune against Martina McBride, allison Krauss, leann Rimes, Sarah evans,and faith be real

  4. How is Leann Rimes voice not on this list? This entire list is crap when considering voice quality.

  5. What the heck? Carrie Underwood will never be in the same category as the first ones listed. Where’s Tammy Wynette, Dottie West, Martina McBride and others? I agree some of the newer singers are good, once you get past the sound alike voices, poppy sounds and yelling every song they do. The first on this list and the ones mentioned could belt out a song and then turn around sing the sweetest ballad.

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