A list of the most influential artists in history chosen by country stars themselves, another honoree is revealed each week on CMT Hot 20 Countdown .
Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, LeAnn Rimes, Sara Evans, Big Kenny and the Eli Young Band all chose Cline for the list, citing her unforgettable voice and hits like “Crazy” and “Walking After Midnight” as evidence.
Cline passed away tragically at the height of her fame in a 1963 plane crash.
“Patsy Cline was one of the first artists to cross over from country music into pop,” Parton said. “She was a country girl, of course, but her voice was so different. She was one of the few stylists. You know, there are a lot of people that can sing, but Patsy just had a sound like nobody else, and she could sell a song. People just loved it — in all forms of music. People just took to her, and she’s a legend. She was great.”
Rimes made a similar statement about one of her heroes.
“There’s a difference between a singer and someone that can really make you feel something,” she said. “I was always influenced by a lot of great singers but never someone that can connect with something like she could and break your heart. She was amazing. She crossed so many boundaries of country and pop. For me, she’s one of the greatest singers that ever lived.”
“A voice that has never quite been matched ever since,” said the Eli Young Band’s Jon Jones. “It just encompasses what country music is.”
“What she was able to contribute to music and do in her life is just off the charts,” said Big & Rich’s Big Kenny. “It’s just a shame she wasn’t here a whole lot longer than she was. … There’s not a lot to compare Patsy Cline to. There’s been no one to sing like her since those days.”
To Evans, there was something beyond music that made Cline stand out.
“She had this air about her,” Evans began. “She was incredibly strong and powerful, and she knew that she was sexy. She was like a country music, brunette Marilyn Monroe. And she knew that, but she grew up in such a small town, so poor. There was something about the way that she changed when she walked on that stage.”
Lynn spoke of Cline on a more personal level.
“She was a great person,” Lynn said. “If she didn’t like you, you knew, and if she liked you, you knew it. She wasn’t no phony. I loved Patsy Cline. What else can I say? She was a great friend.”
Check out the rest of the CMT All-Time Top 40: Artists Choice list, and find out who will be announced each Saturday at 11 a.m. ET/PT on CMT Hot 20 Countdown.