Country music is full of talented individuals, male and female. The entire genre is comprised of world-class songwriters, singers, artists, and management and production teams. Walking around Nashville, you’re never in short supply of “the next big thing.” Country music has gone from smokey bar rooms to some of the biggest musical stages and venues imaginable. In a world where a Carrie Underwood show isn’t complete without a few costume changes to entertain 10,000 screaming fans, it leaves you wondering why some of the equally or more talented individuals still struggle to have their music gain huge traction.
Number Five: Katrina Elam. Oklahoma has blessed country music with some of the biggest and brightest stars to ever record a note. Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Toby Keith, Carrie Underwood, and of course, Reba McEntire all hail from the great land of Oklahoma. As a fellow “Okie,” Elam emerged onto country music with her self-titled debut album in 2004. The album failed to break out into a big hit and sales were dismal. Elam has vocal abilities that can easily grant her access to the proverbial “VIP Vocal Powerhouse Club” that is reserved for the likes of Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood, LeAnn Rimes, and Patsy Cline. A simple YouTube search of Elam’s song “Love Is,” will leave you blown away by her strong pipes. Though Elam’s star has faded she still holds a presence in country music. Continuing to pen songs for other artists and cultivate her creative talent, I one day hope to see Elam back on the charts with brand new music.
Number Four: Sherrié Austin. Born in Australia, Austin moved to Nashville in the early 90’s to pursue a country music career. With a handful of successes, Austin’s sizzle started to cool when the 2000’s hit. Austin is a completely humble and talented individual. Creating her own original material as well as providing hits for some of country music’s most elite artist’s has become Austin’s ticket to continued success. Circus Girl was the independent release from Austin in 2011. The album earned itself high media praise but failed to chart with any major commercial successes. Austin is one hard working individual who continues to work centre stage and behind the scenes of country music. Though the venues may be small and humble, Austin continues to tour and self-promote her music to her loyal fans.
Number Three: Carolyn Dawn Johnson. Johnson is one of country music’s biggest triple threats. With amazing vocal skills, completely imaginative and inventive song writing abilities, and a totally humble and personable demeanor it comes as no shock that this Canadian beauty got her big break in early 2000 with the release of her debut album, Room with a View. Earning her a few hit singles and multiple awards, it seemed country music loved the country cutie. Johnson continued to release three more creative and consistent studio albums but failed to have the same success as her debut. The early 2000’s saw a shift in what was played on the radio and artists such as Austin and Johnson suffered. Though Johnson had cultivated a fan base, singles failed to chart with many thanks to country radio. Johnson has continued to pen her own material as well as providing multiple hits for fellow country and Canadian country music artists. Recently Johnson just wrapped up her gig as part of Miranda Lambert’s successful Platinum tour.
Number Two: Julie Roberts. A successful career in country music is hard to come by. For Roberts, that career has been beyond hard work. Roberts possesses one of the best voices in country music. Passion, emotion, and power all fill every note that leaves her body. Her self-titled debut album caught the attention of country music and like-minded fans. We fell in love with her emotional music and sweetheart personality. After a successful sophomore album, Roberts parted ways with Mercury Records Nashville in late 2010. After two independent albums, Alive and Good Wine & Bad Decisions were released, Roberts continues to thrill fans with new music, appearances, fan appreciation parties, and philanthropic acts. Active on social media, Roberts interacts with her adoring and loyal fans on a regular basis. One of country music’s classiest acts, Roberts has not turned her back on a career in country music and continues to be a hard working artist.
Number One: Lee Ann Womack. “I Hope You Dance” topped off in the “Number One” spot on the country charts in 2000 for Womack. Released as the first single, the tune was the titled track to her third album. Catapulting Womack towards “superstar” status in country music, it helped Womack earn some radio play and appropriate awards and honors. Womack continued to pursue her musical path and release four more studio albums. Stunningly beautiful and vocally gifted, Womack received very little media play and attention for her work towards the late 2000’s. Though Womack isn’t touring the world in large area venues, don’t be fooled by lack of huge commercial success. Womack is comparatively just as talented as any other female in country music. One of Womack’s most adored qualities is her dedication to creating pure country music. Something that radio seemed to have lost interest in many years ago. Womack is musically influenced by some of the greatest ladies in country music; Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and Dolly Parton. Those influences can be heard throughout her musical library. Touring and recording fill Womack’s time between albums. Her latest release The Way I’m Livin’ was released on Sugar Hill Records and Womack has hit the road to bring the songs to her fans.
Commercial success or not, these five female vocalists manage to bring something special to country music. Whether it is powerful vocals, creative writing skills, or personality these talented ladies should be on the radar of all country music fans. Roberts alone is the prime example of how you do not require a major record label to record and release your own polished album. Womack is proof that traditional sounds are not only appreciated, but still desired by fans new and old. Johnson, Austin, and Elam continue to provide some of the biggest names in country music with songs that we love and adore. The next time you’re in the country section of your favorite music outlet and you think that new Miranda or Carrie album looks good, pick up a copy of one of these ladies album’s and listen for yourself. Let us know below of some other great and talented female powerhouses in country music we might have missed above.