Pick 5: Songs to Celebrate International Women’s Day - The Birthplace of Country Music
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Pick 5: Songs to Celebrate International Women’s Day

Photo of Ashley McBryde

By Andrea Price. Andrea is a student at East Tennessee State University studying history, museum studies, and Appalachian studies. This semester she is an intern with the Birthplace of Country Music learning about museum management, educational programming, and marketing. When not busy researching and writing, she enjoys the outdoors, spending all her money on concert tickets, and listening to her favorite country and bluegrass hits. 

As a history major and lover of country music, I am excited to share with you my picks of songs for International Women’s Day and some of the stories behind the artists!

“Wildflowers,” Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris

Is there anything more iconic than Dolly Parton? Well, maybe Dolly forming the female supergroup Trio with stars Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris in 1987. In a world of radio charts and limited air time (especially for women), it can be easy to view other performers as competition. Alternatively, you can take notes from these three world class musicians and choose friendship in the form of beautifully crafted harmonies and paperdoll album artwork. This song in particular makes my list because of its theme of growing up and exploring the world outside the gardens of home. As a “wild rambling rose seeking mysteries untold,” I love the empowering feeling of freedom granted to me by this trio on the road they’ve so excellently paved as women in music. 

“You’re Lookin’ at Country,” Loretta Lynn

As the most awarded lady in country music, Loretta Lynn proved that the pinnacle of success could be achieved by overcoming whatever obstacles life threw her way. Throughout her career, Loretta had multiple songs banned from country radio as she tackled controversial topics in several of her songs. Loretta’s music may have been autobiographical, but her blunt honesty and stubborn nature connected with many of the women who tuned in to her performances. I’ve always loved “You’re Lookin’ at Country” for its outright display of Loretta’s unapologetic ‘what you see is what you get’ attitude. Nowadays, this is my soundtrack to carefree confidence and unabashed action. 

“Keep on the Sunny Side,” Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters

I could never write about women of country music without including one of the women who started it all – Maybelle Carter. After recording with her family at the 1927 Bristol Sessions, Maybelle continued her career as a performer throughout her lifetime and became known as the “Mother of Country Music.” Maybelle revolutionized country style guitar playing with her popularization of the playing style known as the “Carter Scratch,”  was integral in the guitar becoming a lead instrument, and is credited with transforming the way the autoharp is played. I truly believe country music would not be where it is today without the influence of Maybelle Carter and her enduring legacy as an innovator and trailblazer. This song reflects the continuation of Maybelle’s career as she shared her passion with her daughters and passed the baton to the next generation of country music. 

“Mean (Taylor’s Version),” Taylor Swift

Before she was the princess of pop, Taylor Swift was dominating country radio and sweeping award shows with her catchy early 2000s country chart toppers. “Mean” is a single from her third studio album Speak Now which was single handedly written by Swift after critics claimed she didn’t write her own songs. This song in particular, which took home Grammy wins for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance in 2012, directly addressed those critics with an earworm of a chorus. Watching this saga unfold while I was growing up, I was inspired by Swift’s courage to stand up to the bigger man and prove herself worthy of the rooms she would one day dominate. I’ll always be indebted to Taylor Swift for the confidence I gained by singing “Mean” at the top of my lungs while I forgot what the girls at school and the comments on social media said about me. 

“Girl Goin’ Nowhere,” Ashley McBryde 

In the world of modern country music, no one does it quite like Ashley McBryde. With an array of hits, it was hard to nail down just one for this blog post but “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” is a song I’ve obsessed over since my first listen. As a love letter to the naysayers, this song is a perfect anthem for proving everyone wrong. Several times in my life I’ve felt like all eyes were on me hoping I would make a fatal mistake or throw in the towel on my seemingly unattainable dreams. Ashley’s lyricism and incredible stage presence are frequent reminders to me that one day when my dreams have been achieved I’ll get to have my moment “where they said I’d never be is exactly where I am.”