Patsy Cline changed the face of country music.
Patsy Cline (Wikimedia Commons/Four Star Records)
In the genre's early days, women weren't the stars. They were backing singers, wives and girlfriends, pretty faces on TV variety shows and at live concerts. Cline changed all that with her powerful voice and timeless songs. Her presence couldn't be pushed to the background; she was an obvious star.
It wasn't just her music that made her a trailblazer who opened the door for other women to join the ranks of country music's superstars. Her kind nature was almost as important – at the same time that she inspired young female singers with her music, she opened her heart to them, befriending them, encouraging them, even helping them out with expenses while they got their careers established. She was deeply loved and respected by the singers who followed in her footsteps – Loretta Lynn, Brenda Lee, Dottie West, Barbara Mandrell, and many more.
Patsy Cline died in a plane crash 49 years ago today. In 1963, she was just 30 years old, and her career could have gone on for many more years. But as Cline's legacy touched country music in the 1960s, 70s and beyond, more and more women became its biggest stars. From Dolly Parton to LeAnn Rimes, Shania Twain to Taylor Swift, all of them can thank Patsy Cline for her refusal to be just another pretty girl standing behind a man. They can thank her for being a star.
Written by Linnea Crowther