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PBS Pays Tribute to the ‘Iconic Women of Country’

This special gave an inside look at many of the iconic women in country music.

PBS Pays Tribute to the ‘Iconic Women of Country’
Terri Clark, Pam Tillis, and Suzy Bogguss; Photo credit: Joe Schlener

Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and more legendary female country singers were paid tribute on the PBS program, Iconic Women of Country. The special, which aired on Monday (6/1), covered the influence of the iconic performers and how, at times, the songs reflected their personal lives.

Original interviews were recorded of various female singers. Trisha Yearwood, Pam Tillis, Terri Clark and more made appearances on the 90-minute special.

Country singer Kathy Mattea opened the show with the poignant observation, saying, “It took some unique women pioneers to kick those doors down.”

The in-depth discussions, complimented with archival performance footage, were centered around how these performers overcame gender inequality in country music.

Driving home that point, Yearwood stated, “Now, the conversation is so much about women in country and radio airplay, and how few women get played on the radio.” She jokingly added, “I picture Loretta Lynn listening to those interviews and going, ‘Girls, you have no idea how hard it was.’”

Throughout the segments, nuggets of interesting information were also revealed. One of those moments came when Tillis shared how her father, country star Mel Tillis, was inspired by the Grand Ole Opry comedian Minnie Pearl.

Tillis shared, “My dad’s comic instincts were fierce, but he studied [Minnie Pearl]. She encouraged him too. She was like, ‘Get over your stuttering, just talk to people — they won’t laugh at you, they will laugh with you.’” Pam added, “If it hadn’t been for her, his story would’ve turned out differently, and my story would’ve turned out differently.” 

Other female artists honored in the production included Kitty Wells, Connie Smith, Jeannie C. Riley, Barbara Mandrell, Patsy Montana, Brenda Lee, Jean Shepard, Dottie West, and Lynn Anderson.