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Women put their mark on country

Country Standard Time Editorial, November 1996

The history of country music has included its share of women who have hit the mark starting with Patsy Montana six decades ago and later Miss Kitty Wells.

Toss a few other names into the mix of successful women in country: Tammy Wynette, Dottie Wells, Dolly Parton.

But the real surge of women in country - developing over the past several years - seems to have come to the fore this year. And we are not only talking about the phenomenal success of Shania Twain (although there a tremendous amount of Shania bashers out there).

Nope, there are other women artists who propelled country along. A few deserve particular mention: the tour of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Trisha Yearwood and Kim Richey clearly was one highlight. They may approach country from different areas, but they showed that women no longer need to be tacked onto a concert bill as window dressing surrounded by males. The camaraderie and warmth exhibited between the three was so evident.

And, of course, they along with others currently on the scene are no longer of the "Stand By Your Man" variety. Carpenter always is looking for "real love," but never quite seeming to find it.

While earlier in her career, Yearwood seemed to be a tool of the suit in Nashville (at least if you can believe the book "Get Hot or Go Country"), she now seems to have hit her own stride.

Richey approaches country more from the pop side, but has assembled a batch of quality songs.

Another all female bill featured Carlene Carter, Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis this past touring season as well.

A few other worthy female artists come to mind: Mindy McCready with her feminist anthem "Guys Do It All The Time," Deana Carter and perhaps most of all Patty Loveless, maybe the best singer out there today.

In this age of boring, mainly male hat acts where you can barely tell the difference between any of them playing their brand of dull, lifeless music, it is refreshing to hear women going to the fore of the country music scene, putting their own mark on the music.

Of course, it's not good just because women are making the more interesting music, but this very well could be healthy for the country music industry. The women clearly bring a different perspective to the table and speak to women country fans.

Maybe, just maybe, these artists will be able to spur country onto the next level just as their sisters did many decades ago.