The Top 10 Classic Female Country Singers

Dolly Parton

 David J Hogan / Getty Images

Who are the classic female country music singers who left an indelible mark on the industry? This list celebrates the women who forever changed country and western music. And to be clear, by classic, we mean those artists who recorded prior to the mid-1980s. This means before people like Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood were even alive.

These women are the stars we know now as legends. Many of them are sadly no longer played on the radio, except for during oldies sessions.

There are many women in country this list leaves out, but that doesn't mean those women aren't giants in their own right. It means a list of 10 can't cover everyone's contributions to country. 

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The Grass is Blue - Dolly Parton

Although this is a bluegrass album, it's one of Parton's best and has received high praise for the choice of songs and the perfection of her performance. It debuted in 1999 and was Parton's 35th studio release. It reached No. 24 on the U.S. country music charts. Singles include "Silver Dagger," "Travelin' Player" and "I Still Miss Someone."

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Still Country - Loretta Lynn

In Still Country, we hear the continuing sound of the legendary performer Loretta Lynn. Whether she's singing heart-rending ballads such as "I Can't Hear The Music Anymore" or "Table For Two" or the uplifting "Country in my Genes," you never doubt where Lynn's heart is and always will be--true country music.

The album debuted in 2000 and made Lynn the first female country musician to chart singles for five decades.

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Stand By Your Man - Tammy Wynette

This is the album that gave Wynette her first No. 1 single, and the title track, of course, became known as her signature song. The single dropped in 1968, reached No. 1 on the charts and became one of the most covered songs in country music.

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12 Greatest Hits - Patsy Cline

No one sings like Patsy Cline. She's got a voice that brings shivers down your spine as you listen to her emote in songs. This album includes 12 of her best-known songs, including "Crazy, "I Fall to Pieces" and "Walkin' After Midnight (feat. The Jordanaires)." This best hits album first debuted in 1973.

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Red Dirt Girl - Emmylou Harris

Released in 2000, Red Dirt Girl is reportedly the first album that Emmylou Harris decided to try to write all by herself. The result is a wonderful collection of tunes that ranks with her best work. All but one of the tunes, a cover of Patty Griffin's "One Big Love" was written by Harris. Other tracks include "My Antonia," "J'Ai Fait Tout" and "The Pearl." The album won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 2001. 

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Ultimate Collection - Barbara Mandrell

The Ultimate Collection contains 23 selections, including nearly all of Mandrell's biggest hits, such as "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool" (feat. George Jones) and "One of a Kind Pair of Fools." A good summary of her career.

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Anthology: The Chart Years - Lynn Anderson

This is a nice selection of Lynn Anderson's greatest hits over the years. There are 22 in all, including "Beggars Can't Be Choosers" and "Keeping Up Appearances."

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20 All Time Greatest Hits - Kitty Wells

Just as the title says, in this album, you'll find 20 of Kitty Wells' best-known hits, including "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels."

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The Essential Dottie West - Dottie West

This album includes several of her biggest original hits as well as covers and duets with other artists, such as Hank Cochran's "Me Today and Her Tomorrow," and the duet with Jimmy Dean, "Slowly."

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Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A. - Donna Fargo

Released in 1972, Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.​ features Fargo's most popular hit, the title track, as well as "Funny Face."