10 Of The Most Famous Female Country Singers Of The ’80s

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Written by Laura Macmillan
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There’s something about country music that seems to resonate with women. Maybe it’s the stories of heartbreak and hope or the way that country music celebrates the simple things in life. Whatever it is, there are a ton of amazing female country singers out there.

And in this post, we’re going to take a look at 10 of the most famous female country singers of the ’80s. These ladies have all had significant success in the industry, and their music has touched millions of people worldwide.

1. Reba McEntire

Often called Queen of Country, Reba McEntire is an American country music singer, songwriter, and television producer.

Born in McAlester, Oklahoma, to a family of rodeo cowboys, she began singing in public at an early age. Her father encouraged her musical talent, and she quickly began to perform at local rodeos and events. 

After winning a local singing contest, she was allowed to record her first album. Her self-titled debut album was released, and she soon became one of the world’s most popular country music artists.

Throughout her career, McEntire released many albums and sold over 75 million records worldwide. In addition to her musical success, she has starred in several television shows and movies, including the sitcom Reba.

2. Dolly Parton

Country legend Dolly Parton has been entertaining audiences for over 50 years and continues to do so.

Her career started in the late ’60s, so by the time 1980s rolled around, Parton was in the peak of her career. With her unique blend of country, pop, and gospel, she quickly gained more popularity, and she soon secured a record deal with RCA. 

Throughout her career, she composed more than 3,000 songs and scored 25 number-one singles on the Billboard Country Music charts. Recently she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In addition to her musical accomplishments, Parton is also known for being business savvy. She has launched successful ventures in everything from cosmetics to theme parks, like Dollywood in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

3. Kathy Mattea

Grammy-winning country music singer Kathy Mattea is known for her traditional style and thoughtful lyrics. Born in South Virginia, she was exposed to a variety of music at an early age, including folk, country, and bluegrass. 

After releasing her debut album in 1984, which she aptly named after herself, she quickly gained popularity with her combination of traditional and contemporary country sounds. 

Some of her most famous single releases during the 1980s include the songs “Where’ve You Been,” “Train of Memories,” and “Street Talk.”

Throughout her career, Mattea has released 14 studio albums and earned two Grammy Awards and numerous other accolades.

4. Tanya Tucker

Our next singer is a teen star. Tanya Tucker got her start in the industry at the age of thirteen, when she released her debut single, “Delta Dawn.” The song became a huge hit and helped to launch her career.

During the late ’70s and early ’80s, Tucker’s sales declined, but she made quite a comeback in 1986 with the single “One Love at a Time,” which was followed by the album Girls Like Me, also a hit.

Throughout Tucker’s fifty-plus years in the business, she has released 25 studio albums and scored multiple Top 40 singles, going on a streak of top 10 and top 40 hits.

She has also won multiple Grammy Awards and the prestigious CMA Female Vocalist of the Year in 1991.

5. Juice Newton

American pop and country singer-songwriter Juice Newton found success in the early 1980s with a series of hits, including “Queen of Hearts” and “Angel of the Morning.”

In 1981, she released her breakthrough solo album, Juice, which brought about the top 10 hit “Angel of the Morning” and the top 40 hit “Queen of Hearts.” 

Newton continued to enjoy success with an updated version of “The Sweetest Thing (I’ve Ever Known),” “You Make Me Want to Make You Mine,” and “Hurt.”

Throughout the ’80s, Newton garnered 14 top 10 hits and had the first country music video air on MTV for “Angel of the Morning.”

6. Mary Chapin Carpenter

Five-time Grammy winner Mary Chapin Carpenter is an American singer-songwriter and musician. Her career started with debut album Hometown Girl in 1987, which led to her getting picked up and marketed as a country musician.

Carpenter has been praised for her songwriting ability and clear, powerful voice throughout her career. Her music often deals with themes of loss and heartache, but her songs are also marked by hope and resilience. 

In addition to her solo work, Carpenter has collaborated with many other artists, including Wynonna Judd, Joan Baez, and Tony Rice.

7. Deborah Allen

Next up we have Deborah Allen, a well-known singer, songwriter, and guitarist. She pursued her career in music late in the ’70s and gained popularity with the album Cheat the Night in 1983.

She went on in the decade producing top-ten hits. Her most famous songs include “Baby, I Lied” and “I’ve Been Wrong Before.”

Throughout her career, Allen has won multiple awards, including a Grammy Award for Best Country Song and the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Female.

She has produced 12 albums and has written songs for other musicians, such as Patty Loveless and Tanya Tucker, which led to top hits.

8. Barbara Mandrell

As the daughter of a country music singer, Barbara Mandrell began her musical career at an early age and went on to achieve great success as a country artist in the 1970s and 1980s.

Her first 1980s album, Love Is Fair, was in the top ten of the country music charts, which helped her gain popularity. She continued to release more top-ten albums, including …In Black & White and Spun Gold.

In the mid-1980s, Mandrell was in a bad car accident, which almost ended her career. However, she recovered and continued her country music career until 2000. 

Although she hasn’t been active in the music industry for many years, her contributions to country music have left a lasting legacy.

9. Lucinda Williams

Penultimate on our list is Lucinda Williams, who began her career in 1978 with the release of “Ramblin’ on My Mind,” a country-folk album that received little attention.

It wasn’t until her eponymous 1988 album that she garnered wider recognition. The album’s lead single, “Passionate Kisses,” earned her the Grammy Award for Best Country Song. 

Since then, Williams has released some critically acclaimed albums, including “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” and “Essence.”

She has won multiple Grammy Awards and has been featured on Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Country Artists of All Time and 500 Greatest Albums of All Time lists.

10. Suzy Bogguss

American songwriter and country singer Suzy Bogguss began her career in the early 1980s as a folk singer. During this stage of her career, she signed with Liberty Records.

Her breakthrough came near the end of the decade with her debut album, Somewhere Between, which was released in 1989. It made its way onto the Billboard Country Albums chart, and the album also won her the Top New Female Vocalist award from the Academy of Country Music.

Bogguss has also won two Grammy Awards and received five nominations.

Summing Up Our List Of Famous ’80s Female Country Singers

The women we have listed have incredible talent and have left their mark in country music. All 11 artists enjoyed huge success during the ’80s, pushing the genre to even more music enthusiasts. 

Whether you love country music or have never listened to the tunes, you’ll be sure to find a woman on this list who will get you playing their songs on repeat.

However, this list is far from complete. Let us know who we have missed and we’ll add them to our list!

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Laura has over 12 years experience teaching both classical and jazz saxophone and clarinet. She now resides in California where she works as a session and live performer.