During a time when women’s liberation made headlines, lady legends of country music made a meaningful impact in the genre, telling their stories through song.
Some of the most iconic country music queens recorded hit records in the 1970s. From “Rose Garden” to “Delta Dawn” and “The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA,” they created a lot of memorable hits.
Here we have set out 11 of the greatest and most famous female country singers of the ’70s. Read on to learn more about them!
Related: Check out our list of the most famous female country singers.
1. Dolly Parton
Starting as a country songwriter, Dolly Parton made her album debut in 1967 and was teaming up with Porter Wagoner on duets and a television show.
By the 1970s, she was making solo hits such as “Jolene,” “Coat of Many Colors,” and “Hard Candy Christmas.”
Her iconic blond hair and curvaceous figure, along with her wit and wisdom, boosted Parton’s success in the decades to come when she starred in movies and was a frequent guest on popular late-night talk shows.
Outside of the recording studio, the native Tennessean is a stellar businesswoman and philanthropist.
2. Barbara Mandrell
Hailing from Houston, Texas, Barbara Mandrell rose to fame in the 1970s, recording hits such as “Sleeping Single in a Double Bed,” “Woman to Woman,” and “Fooled by a Feeling.”
A singer and a musician, Mandrell had a soulful sound in her songs that made many of them crossover hits on pop charts. One of her ’70s hits was a cover of the R&B song “If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want to Be Right).”
By the early 1980s, the Mandrell sisters—Barbara, Irlene, and Louise—were starring in a popular TV variety show on NBC.
Related: Read about more famous female country singers from the 1980s.
3. Loretta Lynn
A Kentucky-born singer-songwriter, Loretta Lynn is known for writing songs based on her life experiences.
First gaining fame for the hit song “Honky-Tonk Girl” in 1960, Lynn was country music royalty by the early 1970s. The autobiographical Coal Miner’s Daughter, a musical in 1970, was also the name of the movie of her life story and featured another of her hit song.
Many of her songs of that decade—“One’s on the Way,” “The Pill,” and “Rated X”—touched on issues of the day.
Lynn also connected with country star Conway Twitty in hit duets, including “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” and “You’re the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly.”
4. Tammy Wynette
Known for her signature hit “Stand By Your Man” in 1969, Tammy Wynette was among country music’s top female stars when the 1970s came along.
Married to country star George Jones from 1969 to 1975, the native Mississippian sang with him in duets, including “The Ceremony,” which was a hit in the US and Canada.
She and George Jones were known as the president and first lady of country music, but after their divorce, Wynette recorded “Til I Can Make It On My Own,” signaling a return to solo performances.
5. Tanya Tucker
A native Texan who grew up in Arizona, Tanya Tucker had her first hit, “Delta Dawn,” in 1972 when she was only 13 years old. The song reached #6 on the charts.
She followed that early success with the songs “Love’s the Answer” and “What’s Your Mama’s Name,” her first #1 hit, establishing herself as a rising teen artist.
Tucker cemented herself as a country music royalty during the decade after the release of several more #1 songs—”Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone)” and “Blood Red and Goin’ Down,” to name a few.
6. Donna Fargo
Known best for her 1972 hit “The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA,” Donna Fargo found fame after a stint as a teacher in Covina, California. The native North Carolinian-born Yvonne Vaughn first began appearing in clubs in Southern California and Arizona under the name Donna Fargo.
She wrote “The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA” and was signed to Dot Records. The song was a #1 hit on the country charts and so was her follow-up, “Funny Face.”
One of the few female country singers to write her own songs, Fargo was among the genre’s most successful stars during the 1970s.
7. Lynn Anderson
Born in North Dakota to Casey and country music artist Liz Anderson, Lynn Anderson followed in her mother’s footsteps.
While participating in an informal sing-along with other country music stars during a trip to Nashville, she was spotted by producer Slim Williamson. By 1966, she had a contract with Chart Records.
Anderson appeared on and toured with The Lawrence Welk Show in 1967 but was unhappy with the music she was asked to perform.
By 1970, Anderson had her international crossover hit “Rose Garden,” which was recorded by Columbia Records after the label purchased her Chart contract. The producer of the song was her husband, Glenn Sutton.
8. Dottie West
Country singer-songwriter Dottie West first saw musical success in the 1960s with the hit “Here Comes My Baby Back Again” and, in 1965, was the first female country star to win a Grammy.
In the 1970s, West recorded a commercial for the Coca-Cola Co., “Country Sunshine,” which reached #3 on the country charts.
During the decade, West teamed up with country legend Kenny Rogers to record duets, including “Every Time Two Fools Collide,” a chart-topper, and “All I Ever Need Is You.”
During the mid-1970s, West’s music transitioned from country to a sound closer to adult contemporary.
9. Crystal Gayle
Younger sister to Loretta Lynn, Brenda Gail Webb changed her name to Crystal Gayle and sought musical fame with a country-pop sound.
With Lynn’s help, Gayle landed a contract with Decca Records in 1970. Dissatisfied with her progress there, she worked to develop her own musical identity and signed with United Artists.
“Wrong Road Again” became Gayle’s first major song in 1975, but her second hit, “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” became her signature song in 1978.
Known for her long, dark hair, Gayle also recorded the #1 country song “Talking in Your Sleep.”
10. June Carter Cash
A country singer-songwriter who was the second wife of country icon Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash was a member of the Carter Family musical group from the age of 10.
She found solo success in the 1950s with hits such as “Jukebox Blues” and “No Swallerin’ Place.” Cash also wrote the famed country hit “Ring of Fire,” which was recorded by her future husband, Johnny Cash.
Before marriage, the two recorded duets, including “It Ain’t Me, Babe” and “Jackson,” and they continued to collaborate after their wedding in 1968, recording the album Johnny Cash and His Woman.
11. Jeannie C. Riley
First gaining fame for the international hit “Harper Valley PTA” in 1968, Jeannie C. Riley remained in demand through much of the 1970s.
During the decade, Riley recorded songs including “Good Morning, Country Rain,” “Oh, Singer,” “Good Enough to Be Your Wife,” and “Give Myself a Party,” but none had the success of her first hit.
By the middle of the 1970s, Riley had converted to Christianity and distanced herself from her first chart-topper because of its suggestive content and began recording gospel songs, later releasing a gospel album.
Summing Up Our List Of Famous 1970s Female Country Singers
Storytelling and heartfelt feelings blend in the hits of country music’s female legends of the 1970s. Each of their signature style and tremendous talent are obvious, as we have seen in the list above.
As some of the forerunners of the genre, the influence of these country queens to the genre is unquestionable. Fans worldwide still listen to their songs and clamor for more.