Classic CMA Awards Moments, #24: Ladies of the ‘90s

#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)


  1. The women of the 90s were definitely some of the best country music has seen!!! They are the reason why I listen to country today!

  2. Amen.

    I’d like to add a shout-out to the other women who won during that period – Kathy Mattea, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Trisha Yearwood, and Martina McBride, and note some worthy others who didn’t win, especially Lorrie Morgan, Shania Twain and Suzy Bogguss.

    It was an unparalleled and unmatched era for excellence among female artists in the genre. That’s not even mentioning the incredible songwriters like Matraca Berg, Kim Richey, Gretchen Peters and Bobbie Cryner, who made some darn good music of their own and wrote many of the songs that made those artists so successful.

  3. Absolutely. The ’90s was an unparalleled time in terms of female success at retail and radio. For those who have not read the feature yet, I encourage you to check out Kevin’s 100 Greatest Women series. It’s truly remarkable.

    Kevin, I have a feeling that we will be seeing quite a few of the women you mentioned as we move forward in the series. ;)

  4. I’ll chime in and say those ’90s ladies are also my reason for being roped into country music in the first place. Reba, Tanya Tucker, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Kathy Mattea, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, etc., etc. Not sure that the depth of female talent in the genre will ever match that era.

  5. Genuine stars, all of them, although Tanya was 70’s/80’s I thought, but noone in the world looked better in cutoff jeans than Tanya. Thanks for mentioning Suzy Bogguss and another favorite of mine: Nancy Griffith….

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  1. tanya worthy

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