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Women’s History Month: Songs That Broke Barriers



A lot of nation music’s feminine artists have earned a few of their most memorable hits by way of writing and/or recording music that speaks to the hopes, desires, struggles, and common experiences of on a regular basis individuals.

Artists together with Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Reba, The Chicks, and Mickey Guyton have used their music to interrupt down boundaries and name consideration to subjects together with gender inequality, office discrimination, equal rights, racial discrimination, contraception, and double requirements. Alongside the best way, they’ve opened doorways for each music followers and fellow artists for generations to come back.

Beneath, we spotlight a couple of ground-breaking songs from a few of nation music’s strongest artists:

Kitty Wells, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”

Even along with her gingham-clad, prim and correct picture, Kitty Wells smashed boundaries for feminine artists with this defiant 1952 hit, a retort to Hank Thompson’s “The Wild Facet of Life.” In Thompson’s tune, he expresses his remorse that his bride-to-be is being untrue, driving the purpose dwelling with the lyric, “I didn’t know God made honky tonk angels.”

Wells’ reply tune locations the blame squarely on untrue males for creating girls who do the identical. “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” grew to become the primary No. 1 tune on Billboard’s nation chart by a solo feminine artist, and spent six weeks on the pinnacle.

Key lyric: It’s a disgrace that each one the blame is on us girls/It’s not true that solely you males really feel the identical/From the beginning most each coronary heart that’s ever damaged/ Was as a result of there all the time was a person guilty

Loretta Lynn, “Rated X”

Lynn’s “Rated X” challenged social stigmas surrounding divorced girls. The tune concurrently inspired girls to depart unhealthy marriages, however was additionally frank in regards to the double requirements they confronted after divorce. It topped the nation chart in 1973, turning into Lynn’s sixth No. 1 hit. “Rated X” is from Lynn’s album Entertainer of the 12 months, a nod to Lynn’s turning into the primary feminine artist to be named the Nation Music Affiliation’s Entertainer of the 12 months in 1972.

In her e-book Honky Tonk Girl: My Life in Lyrics, Lynn stated of “Rated X,” “The tune, I feel was type of taken unsuitable by some girls. Some wrote me and stated I used to be wanting down on divorced girls. If they’d listened actual good, they might have gotten the story proper. I used to be taking on for divorced girls. After you have been married, should you acquired divorced or grew to become widowed, each man takes it as a right that you simply’re obtainable, that you simply’re straightforward….That was the story I used to be making an attempt to inform—I used to be speaking to the boys, making an attempt to set them straight.”

Key lyric: Properly, should you’ve been a married girl/And issues didn’t appear to work out/Divorce is the important thing to bein’ free and free/So that you’re gonna be talked about

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Loretta Lynn, “The Tablet”

Lynn’s songs are recognized for masking controversial subjects, from contraception to dishonest husbands to divorce, so it’s no shock that a couple of of Lynn’s classics makes this listing.

Her 1975 hit “The Tablet” was a humorous method to the then-taboo subject of contraception. On the time, many radio stations refused so as to add the tune to their rotation, nonetheless, the plan didn’t work, as “The Tablet” grew to become one among Lynn’s most iconic songs.

As included in Mary A. Bufwack and Robert Ok. Oermann’s e-book Finding Her Voice: The Illustrated History of Women in Country Music, Lynn stated of the tune, “After we launched it, the individuals beloved it. I imply the ladies beloved it. However the males who run the radio stations had been scared to demise. It’s like a problem to the person’s mind-set…one thing that’s actually necessary to girls, like contraception, they don’t need no a part of, leastways not on the air. Properly, my followers…compelled many of the radio stations to play it.”

Key lyric: Miniskirts, sizzling pants and some little fancy frills/Yeah I’m makin’ up for all these years/Since I’ve acquired the tablet

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Reba, “Is There Life Out There?”

By 1992, Reba had firmly established herself as one among nation music’s most enjoyable entertainers, and as a vocalist with a present for selecting songs that resonated with feminine audiences. In “Is There Life Out There?,” in chronicling the story of a spouse and mom who nonetheless made a degree to observe her personal desires, Reba created an anthem for ladies in every single place. Within the tune’s music video, Reba portrayed Maggie O’Connor, who returns to varsity to finish her diploma whereas balancing work and household life; the clip would encourage many wives and moms to finish their very own levels.

In 1994, Reba starred in a CBS tv film based mostly on the tune’s storyline.

Key Lyric: She’s carried out what she ought to/Ought to she do what she daresShe doesn’t wish to depart, she’s simply wonderin’ is there life on the market

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Mickey Guyton, “Black Like Me” and “What Are You Gonna Inform Her?”

Mickey Guyton has been releasing music for the previous decade, however in 2020, she launched a pair of songs that boldly and vulnerably spoke to each gender inequality and racial discrimination. Each songs are included on her 2020 EP Bridges.

She launched “What Are You Gonna Inform Her?,” a scathing itemizing of the methods society usually builds up younger ladies simply to tear them down, throughout Nation Radio Seminar in 2020. Just a few months later, she “Black Like Me,” shortly after the demise of George Floyd. The tune earned Guyton a latest Grammy nomination—she grew to become the primary black feminine artist to earn a Grammy nomination for Finest Nation Solo Efficiency—and a efficiency slot through the awards ceremony.

“I’m combating for that little black woman that desires to sing nation music however doesn’t have any alternatives, that doesn’t suppose that she may ever sing nation music,” she told WFAA. “I’m the vessel, I’m the door for her to stroll by way of in order that she will be able to get her alternative.”

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The Chicks, “Not Prepared To Make Good”

After the Chicks (then referred to as the Dixie Chicks) member Natalie Maines’ advised a London live performance viewers she was ashamed that then-President George W. Bush was from the trio’s homestate of Texas, the autumn out got here swiftly—their data had been yanked from radio, sending their No. 1 hit “Travelin’ Soldier” plummeting down the nation chart. The trio obtained demise threats and music listeners burned their data.

Nevertheless, the trio wasn’t about to again down from their beliefs and some years later, they funneled their feelings into the album Taking the Lengthy Means and the fiery anthem “Not Prepared To Make Good,” which earned the Chicks a string of Grammy awards, together with Document of the 12 months, Album of the 12 months and, paradoxically, wins for Finest Nation Album and Finest Nation Efficiency by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

The group’s will to unapologetically be themselves and communicate their minds introduced controversy on the time, but in addition impressed a brand new technology of artists, resembling Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert.

Lambert told Hits Daily Double in 2018, “I wish to be the Dixie Chicks for this subsequent technology. To place it merely, I wish to write and make music that strikes individuals, to provide them freedom to be who they’re. I wish to kick these doorways open.”

Key Lyric: It’s too late to make it proper/I in all probability wouldn’t if I may

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Kacey Musgraves, “Comply with Your Arrow”

Kacey Musgraves’ 2013 hit, which she penned with overtly homosexual co-writers Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark, applauded self-acceptance and following your coronary heart, and referenced each same-sex relationships and marijuana use.

The tune was the third single from Musgraves’ debut album Identical Trailer, Totally different Park, and made historical past when it was named Tune of the 12 months on the 2014 CMA Awards.

“For a tune I used to be advised would by no means and will by no means be a single, it simply blows my thoughts and it provides me plenty of religion that individuals nonetheless love connecting with a message and spreading one thing after they like it, and that’s what occurred,” Musgraves stated backstage after the tune’s CMA Awards win. “It’s an anthem for all types of individuals so I couldn’t be extra proud.”

Key Lyric: So, make a lot of noise, Kiss a lot of boys/Or kiss a lot of ladies if that’s one thing you’re into/When the straight and slim will get just a little too straight roll up a joint, or don’t/Comply with your arrow wherever it factors

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Jeannie C. Riley, “Harper Valley P.T.A.”

This three-week No. 1 from 1968 recollects the story of a widowed mom who “socked to the Harper Valley P.T.A.” The mom railed towards members of the mother or father trainer affiliation for criticizing the mom’s miniskirts and social consuming, by publicly stating the group’s personal vices.

The tune, penned by Tom T. Corridor and recorded by Riley, earned a CMA Award for Single of the 12 months and a Grammy for Finest Nation Vocal Efficiency, Feminine. The tune additionally made Riley the primary feminine artist to concurrently have a No. 1 hit on the Billboard High Nation Songs chart and the Sizzling 100.

Key Lyric: And should you odor Shirley Thompson’s breath/You’ll discover she’s had just a little nip of gin
After which you may have the nerve to inform me/You suppose that because the mom I’m not match/Properly, that is just a bit Peyton Place/And also you’re all Harper Valley hypocrites

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Dolly Parton, “9 To five”

The themesong to the 1980 movie 9 To five starring Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, stays as related as ever, greater than 4 many years after its launch. Generations of girls have associated to the tune’s central tenet of girls chasing their desires with grit and ambition whereas combating towards gender inequality and office discrimination.

Parton wrote the tune on the set of the movie, creating the muse of the tune whereas clicking her acrylic nails collectively.

“It seemed like a typewriter and I didn’t have my guitar,” she told Today. “I might simply go searching and get concepts, watching no matter was happening on the set…. I might return to the resort and night time and write down the lyrics. I performed my nails on the actual report only for enjoyable.”

The tune gave Parton her first tune to achieve the top of Billboard’s Sizzling 100, and have become solely the second tune, by a feminine artist, after Riley’s “Harper P.T.A..” to achieve the top of each the Sizzling 100 and the nation chart.

Key lyric: They allow you to dream simply to observe ’em shatter/You’re only a step on the boss-man’s ladder/However you bought desires he’ll by no means take away

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