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Words of Wisdom From Women of Country: Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, and More

It’s the genre where a tween named Taylor Swift got her start. It’s where Dolly Parton realized her dream of becoming a singer-songwriter. And it’s where so many remarkable women have written and recorded unforgettable, culture-shifting songs about the experience of being a woman, from Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill” to Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”

From Miranda Lambert to Tanya Tucker, these women have voices and stage presences as big as the Texas sky — and the ambition to match. While country radio hasn’t been great to them for the past two decades, playing far, far less music by women than by men, they still create the successful and genre-defining albums that win Grammys and make crowds sit up and listen.

For many decades now, these women have moved us profoundly — giving us an expansive emotional outlet and earworm songs that we can’t stop singing and referencing. Here are some quotes from just a few of these icons — taken from interviews — about self-expression, perseverance, vulnerability, and the transformative power of music.

You can either stand there and let the wave crash into you, and you can try as hard as you can to fight something that’s more powerful and bigger than you. Or you can dive under the water, hold your breath, wait for it to pass and, while you’re down there, try to learn something.
— Taylor Swift, "The Guardian," 2019

I’m not offended by all of the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb… and I also know that I’m not blonde.
— Dolly Parton

Never look back. One foot in front of the other. The only thing that matters is where you’re going.
— Shania Twain, "Refinery29," 2020

The world doesn’t stop for a broken heart, and that’s the truth. You’ve got to go on, but you’ve got to express your pain, and the way I did it was through my music.
Reba McEntire, "The Saturday Evening Post," 2018

Well, shoot, I don’t believe in double standards, where men can get away with things that women can’t. In God’s eyes, there’s no double standard.
― Loretta Lynn, "Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner's Daughter"

I think it's interesting that we're all taught that the success of a relationship has to somehow correlate with the length of it… I just don't think that that's fully accurate.
— Kacey Musgraves, NPR, 2021

I learned a long time ago, I am who I am unapologetically, and that’s how I have a career. But that doesn’t mean you are everybody’s favorite all the time and that’s okay with me.
— Miranda Lambert, "Rolling Stone," 2021

When you play, when you’re in the moment and you’re not paying attention, you lose time. You don’t have any concept of, ‘I have to be somewhere.’ You’re just suspended. When you play like that, it’s so healing.
— Wynonna Judd, "Rolling Stone," 2020

It’s not enough for just one to make it here and there — it needs to be a sea of Black women, a sea of Latina women, a sea of LBGTQ artists. If we don’t see that, then it’s just gonna be the same white guy in a pickup truck with a ball cap…
— Mickey Guyton, "The New Yorker," 2021

I feel like I'm becoming fearless again… I've done things that have scared the ever-loving hell out of me, and I made it through it.
Maren Morris, "CBS This Morning," 2022

When the stars align and something feels right, you just go for it, you just do it.
— Carrie Underwood, "CBS This Morning," 2021

Sometimes we get caught up and having to do the to-do list of everyday life that we forget that there's this curiosity and playfulness and this creativity that needs to be fed.
— LeAnn Rimes, "Country Living," 2021

We’ve felt the shackles were off more and more with each album… It just always seemed to be natural for us to be OK with who we are, and saying who we are, and what we need to, and how we feel.
— Natalie Maines of The Chicks, "The Independent," 2020

You make great music and people of all ages who like all different types of music love it; no one has to worry about what chart it’s going into — country, pop, whatever. And I’ve never been one to really care about that. You just let me know if it goes number one, and what I’ve got to do to get it there.
— Tanya Tucker, "Vinyl Me Please," 2019

I am just very unapologetically myself. I don’t think I know how to not be honest. I have to tell the whole truth in my lyrics to be able to really stand behind them. I have to really feel it.
— Carly Pearce, "SPIN," 2021

Photo credit: Featureflash Film Archive/ Alamy Stock Photo

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About the Author
Courtney E. Smith
Courtney E. Smith is an author, podcaster, and editor based in Dallas, Texas.
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