Women’s History Month: An Array of Talent in the ’90s

Read About Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Shania Twain, and Trisha Yearwood

As country music introduced a number of immediate superstars in the 1990s, more and more radio stations flipped to the format — with a record 2505 stations playing country full-time by 1997. With this broad exposure, country albums began selling by the millions rather than the usual hundreds of thousands. In turn, more profit meant less risk, larger rosters, and bigger promotional budgets, allowing Nashville’s labels to experiment with a wider variety of rising talent than ever before.

Finally, there were the growing audiences for TNN: The Nashville Network and CMT, included in a home’s typical basic cable package at that time. These networks’ insatiable demand for programming — live performances, talk shows, game shows, and especially music videos — depended on new and established talent alike, setting the stage for an array of female artists in the 1990s to blossom. Here are some of the brightest talents from that decade.

THE NEW KIDS IN TOWN

Who’d have thought that a string band trio — of girls yet! — would ever blow the doors off country music? But that’s exactly what Dixie Chicks did. And they were pretty good at burning bridges, too. Sisters Martie and Emily Erwin and lead vocalist Natalie Maines first topped the charts in 1998 with “There’s Your Trouble.” It won a Grammy and started a run on such adjectives as “sassy,” “exuberant” and “in your face.”

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