Women of Country Guitar

A List of Country’s Best Female Pickers

It may seem that Country music is dominated by men. Although there are many great female singers, female guitarists in Country don’t often get mentioned alongside the great male pickers. In an effort to rectify this, we have put together a partial list of many of the great female guitarists in country.

Mother Maybelle Carter

A founding member of the legendary Carter Family, Maybelle used a technique of guitar playing that, while not originated by her, was popularized as “Carter Family picking.” She used her thumb to play melody on the bass and middle strings, and her index finger to fill out the rhythm. Later in life she toured and appeared on TV with her son-in-law Johnny Cash (along with the rest of The Carter Family) and participated in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s landmark “Country Meets Rock” crossover album WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN.

Dolly Parton

A legendary singer, guitarist, and songwriter, Dolly Parton is the possibly the most honored female artist in country music. She has won multiple Grammys, Country Music Awards, BMI Pop and Country Awards, and American Music Awards. She has had (as of this writing) 25 number one hits, and 25 gold, platinum, and multi-platinum albums. Her songs COAT OF MANY COLORS, HERE YOU COME AGAIN, JOLENE and I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU (also an international hit for Whitney Houston) have become country standards. After over 50 years in the business, she has slowed down on touring, but continues to write and record acclaimed albums and make television and film appearances.

Bonnie Raitt

It’s hard to pigeonhole Bonnie Raitt, and that has actually contributed to her ongoing success. She played Americana music before it was labeled. Weaving elements of Blues, Rock, Folk and Country into a unique sound all her own, Bonnie has kept her career going long after many of her contemporaries have left the business. Maybe the key to it is that, although she was acclaimed by critics and had had some moderate chart success, it wasn’t until after she got dropped by her label, Warner Bros., and after almost 20 years in the business that she had her first major commercial breakthrough with the album NICK OF TIME. She has won 10 Grammys. Raitt is listed at number 50 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. She is also listed at number 89 in the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

Taylor Swift

This popular performer, who, like her hero Dolly Parton, has had major chart success and won multiple awards, likes to keep things simple. Although there are certainly pop elements to her music, she remains country to the core. From a young age, Swift has been playing guitar and writing songs. Her music shows quite a depth of maturity for a young woman. If her current success is any indication, she has quite a long and successful career ahead of her.

How to Find Out More

The music of these talented ladies is widely available on iTunes, YouTube, and other music sites, as well as your local music store. Virtually any release from any of these fine artists is highly recommended.