October 9, 2008
#24: Ladies of the ’90s
The 1990s were a time of tremendous fortune for the leading ladies of country music, with the females in the genre mining more gold and platinum than ever and selling a record number of concert tickets.
The depth in talent was none more apparent than in the Female Vocalist of the Year category. Although only four men were named Male Vocalist of the Year between 1990-1999, eight different women received recognition as the year’s premier vocalist. Three women in particular, all diverse artists in an ever-changing genre, made their marks on the CMA Awards with their one win in the category.
Ironically, Tanya Tucker’s moment to shine occurred during another life-changing event, the birth of her first child. After seven previous nominations, Tucker finally claimed the title as the finest female singer in the genre.
Three years later, Pam Tillis gave a beautiful speech when she accepted her first solo CMA award. Her victory was vindication, a clear sign that she had completely stepped out of the shadow of her famous father, now-Hall of Famer Mel Tillis. She exclaimed “I love this town!” and humbly received her honoring as Nashville’s best female singer in the wake of the sterling success of her platinum album, Sweetheart’s Dance.
Alison Krauss captured the imagination of the CMA voters like no female artist in history, with her four awards in 1995 the most ever awarded to a woman in one ceremony. The pinnacle of the evening was her announcement as the Female Vocalist of the Year, defeating reigning champion Tillis, Album of the Year winner Patty Loveless and Reba McEntire.
These women continue to produce some of the richest recordings within the genre, further enhancing the status of the distaff side of country music. The affirmations from the CMA voters showed the true artistic integrity of these artists, who all made the 1990s a memorable time in the genre’s history.
Alison Krauss & Union Station, “Simple Love” (2007)