Sunday, January 25th, 2009
Revised and Updated for 2009
While the Grammys have honored country music from the very first ceremony in 1959, they did not begin honoring by gender until 1965, when the country categories were expanded along with the other genre categories.
This is a look back at the Best Female Country Vocal Performance category. It was first awarded in 1965, an included single competing with albums until the Best Country Album category was added in 1995. When an album is nominated, it is in italics, and a single track is in quotation marks.
I’ve often made the case that female artists were making the best music in the 1990s, and the Grammys did a great job nominating songs and albums that were ignored at the CMA and ACM awards, which is not surprising, given that those shows have so few categories that are actually for songs and albums.
As usual, we start with a look at this year’s nominees and work our way back.
- Martina McBride, “For These Times”
- LeAnn Rimes, “What I Cannot Change”
- Carrie Underwood, “Last Name”
- Lee Ann Womack, “Last Call”
- Trisha Yearwood, “This is Me You’re Talking To”
This year’s lineup includes three former winners and two women looking for their first victory in this category. Martina McBride is in the running for the eighth time in fifteen years, and with one of her more understated performances. Lee Ann Womack returns for a fifth time, having received a nomination for the lead single of her five most recent albums. Both ladies turned in good performances here, but they’ve been overlooked for records bigger and better, so they’re not likely to snap their losing streaks this time around.
As for the previous winners, LeAnn Rimes earned her third consecutive nod, bringing her total to five in this category. She hasn’t won since 1997, when she took home the award for “Blue.” If enough voters hear “What I Cannot Change,” she might have a shot, though the only version of the song that’s been a legitimate hit has been the dance remix.
Trisha Yearwood won in 1998 for “How Do I Live,” her only victory to date. But she’s earned her tenth nomination for “This is Me You’re Talking To,” which is arguably her strongest vocal performance of the ten. Like Rimes, the challenge is getting enough voters to listen to it, but she’s never been more deserving of the victory than she is this year.
Still, the favorite remains Carrie Underwood. She’s quickly become a favorite with Grammy voters, having won this category two years running, along with Best New Artist in 2007. She’s the nominee with the highest profile, and while “Last Name” is nowhere near the same league of “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats” in terms of artistry or impact, it was a big hit, something that the other four entries cannot claim.
If Underwood was nominated for “Just a Dream,” she’d have a mortal lock on this one. But the strength of the other nominees will at least keep this race competitive. If Underwood prevails, Grammy queen Alison Krauss better watch her back.
- Alison Krauss, “Simple Love”
- Miranda Lambert, “Famous in a Small Town”
- LeAnn Rimes, “Nothin’ Better to Do”
- Carrie Underwood, “Before He Cheats”
- Trisha Yearwood, “Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love”
Looking at this lineup, you’d think that it was a golden age of female country artists, something akin to the mid-nineties. In reality, only one of these songs was a big radio hit, though three others managed to go top twenty. In terms of quality, however, this is the most consistent and thoroughly wonderful set of nominees this category has seen this century. You’d have to go back to exactly 1999 to find a better lineup.
In a year when any winner would have been deserving, Underwood won for “Before He Cheats,” her second straight win for a signature mega-hit from her debut album.
Tags: Alison Krauss, Angie Aparo, Anne Murray, Barbara Fairchild, Barbara Mandrell, Billie Jo Spears, Brenda Lee, Carlene Carter, Carrie Underwood, Connie Smith, Crystal Gayle, Deana Carter, Deborah Allen, Diana Trask, Dolly Parton, Donna Fargo, Dottie West, Emmylou Harris, Faith Hill, Gretchen Wilson, Holly Dunn, Jamie O'Neal, Jan Howard, Janie Fricke, Jean Shepard, Jeannie C. Riley, Jeannie Seely, Jessi Colter, Jo Dee Messina, Jody Miller, Juice Newton, June Carter Cash, k.d. lang, K.T. Oslin, Kathy Mattea, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Ann Womack, Linda Ronstadt, Liz Anderson, Loretta Lynn, Lorrie Morgan, Lucinda Williams, Lynn Anderson, Marie Osmond, Martina McBride, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mary Kay Place, Miranda Lambert, Molly Bee, Olivia Newton-John, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless, Reba McEntire, Rosanne Cash, Sammi Smith, Shania Twain, Sheryl Crow, Sissy Spacek, Skeeter Davis, Sylvia, Tammy Wynette, Tanya Tucker, Terri Gibbs, Trisha Yearwood, Wanda Jackson, Wilma Burgess, Wynonna
Sunday, November 9th, 2008
For a look back at the other major categories, visit our CMA Awards page.
- Luke Bryan
- Easton Corbin
- Jerrod Neimann
- Chris Young
- Zac Brown Band
Usually there isn’t this much turnover in this race unless most of last year’s nominees are ineligible. This year, only one of the four eligible nominees from last year – Zac Brown Band – earns a nomination. With their massive success and their multiple nominations, they’ve got an excellent shot at winning. Then again, Easton Corbin is elsewhere on the ballot, too. It could be a horse race.
- Randy Houser
- Jamey Johnson
- Jake Owen
- Darius Rucker
- Zac Brown Band
Thirteen years after winning the Best New Artist Grammy as part of Hootie & The Blowfish, Darius Rucker won the country music equivalent, adding an exclamation point to the most successful pop-to-country crossover in a generation.
- Jason Aldean
- Rodney Atkins
- Lady Antebellum
- James Otto
- Kellie Pickler
The industry favorites Lady Antebellum became the fourth band in history to win this award, following Rascal Flatts, Dixie Chicks and Sawyer Brown.
- Jason Aldean
- Rodney Atkins
- Little Big Town
- Kellie Pickler
- Taylor Swift
In the year since winning the Horizon Award, Swift has solidified her position as the genre’s most successful rising star. While her debut album hasn’t reached the sales heights of the first discs by previous winners Carire Underwood and Gretchen Wilson, Swift is still one of the genre’s only significant sellers.
- Miranda Lambert
- Little Big Town
- Josh Turner
- Carrie Underwood
I had a sneaking suspicion that Josh Turner was going to take this home, but as I’ve said before, Carrie’s got the best pipes since Trisha Yearwood. That she’ was acknowledged for that at such an early stage of her career is pretty amazing. Somehow I think the thrill of winning Horizon was short-lived, as winning Female Vocalist the same night left that memory in the dust.
- Dierks Bentley
- Big & Rich
- Miranda Lambert
- Julie Roberts
Four of these five were nominees again the following year, and all in categories besides just Horizon, though Lambert got another shot at that as well. I think Big & Rich and Sugarland are making the most interesting music, and they’re moving more units than Bentley, though he’s no slouch himself. The CMA showed good judgment this year.
Category CMA Awards
Tags: Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Big & Rich, Billy Dean, Blake Shelton, Boxcar Willie, Brad Paisley, Brooks & Dunn, Bryan White, Buddy Jewel, Caroline Dawn Johnson, Carrie Underwod, Chely Wright, Clint Black, Dan Seals, Darryl Worley, David Ball, David Frizell, Deana Carter, Deborah Allen, Desert Rose Band, Dierks Bentley, Dixie Chicks, Doug Stone, Dwight Yoakam, Earl Thomas Conley, Eddy Raven, Faith Hill, Garth Brooks, Gary Allan, George Strait, Gretchen Wilson, Highway 101, Holly Dunn, James Otto, Jamie O’Neal, Jason Aldean, Jessica Andrews, Jo Dee Messina, Joe Nichols, John Anderson, John Berry, John Michael Montgomery, John Schneider, Josh Turner, Julie Roberts, K.T. Oslin, Kathy Mattea, Keith Urban, Keith Whitley, Kellie Pickler, Kenny Chesney, Kentucky Headhunters, Lady Antebellum, LeAnn Rimes, Lee Ann Womack, Lee Greenwood, Lee Roy Parnell, Little Big Town, Lorrie Morgan, Mark Chesnutt, Martina McBride, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mel McDaniel, Michael Martin Murphey, Michael Peterson, Miranda Lambert, Montgomery Gentry, Nickel Creek, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless, Phil Vassar, Randy Travis, Rascal Flatts, Ray Charles, Reba McEntire, Restless Heart, Ricky Skaggs, Ricky Van Shelton, Rodney Atkins, Rosanne Cash, Sammy Kershaw, Sara Evans, Sawyer Brown, Shania Twain, SHeDaisy, Shelly West, Shenandoah, Sugarland, Suzy Boggus, Sweethearts of the Rodeo, T. Graham Brown, T.G. Sheppard, Taylor Swift, Terri Clark, Terri Gibbs, The Forrester Sisters, The Judds, The O’Kanes, The Whites, The Wilkinsons, Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins, Tracy Lawrence, Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood, Vern Gosdin, Wade Hayes
Tuesday, May 27th, 2008
100 Greatest Women
There had never anyone before in country music like K.T. Oslin when she hit the scene, and there hasn’t been anyone like her since. She instantly redefined what a woman in country music could sing and write about, and by breaking through at the age of 45, she became a voice for her whole generation of women.
Her road from her native Texas to Nashville was a long and winding one. She grew up idolizing Patsy Cline, and her attention turned to folk stars like Joan Baez as she entered junior college. She studied drama while simultaneously developing her musical craft. Before the sixties ended, she had sung in a folk trio with Guy Clark and David Jones. She even worked on an LP in Los Angeles, but the sessions were never released commercially.
While doing a stint in the national touring company of Hello Dolly!, Oslin visited New York City and fell in love with it. She joined the chorus of the Broadway show, and spent the seventies doing small parts in musical theater and recording commercial jingles. She also began focusing on her songwriting, and a friend in the business told her that her songs sounded country. So in 1978, she started shopping her songs around Music City.