Who Loretta Lynn Called ‘The Original Female Trailblazers’ in Country Music

Beloved country music singer Loretta Lynn held a special place in many people’s hearts, from fellow country music icons like Dolly Parton to countless fans around the world. Lynn herself was a humble person, and always made sure to give credit where it is due. When she looked back on the early days of her career, Lynn shouted out whom she called “the original female trailblazers” in country music.

Loretta Lynn wearing blue and holding a mic.
Loretta Lynn | Erika Goldring/WireImage

Loretta Lynn paid tribute to Patsy Cline and Kitty Wells

Loretta Lynn first rose to prominence as a singer in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Over the subsequent years, she would go on to release hit songs such as “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)”, “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)”, “One’s on the Way”, “Fist City”, and “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” To this day, “Coal Miner’s Daughter” remains her calling card. In 1980, a film of the same name based on her life was released.

With nearly 60 awards to her name, Lynn remains the most awarded female country singer in history. But even in her tremendous success, Lynn made sure to pay tribute to those who came before her.

“When I came along it was a man’s world. I idolized Kitty Wells and Patsy Cline — the original female trailblazers! My heroes and inspiration,” Lynn said on Twitter in 2021. “I’m always grateful and never forget what they did for me…for country music…for all us girls.”

Patsy Cline was a mentor to Loretta Lynn

Patsy Cline became a mentor to Lynn when she was starting out in the country music world. In 1961, Cline was in the hospital recovering from a near-fatal car accident when she heard Lynn on the radio performing a rendition of her song “I Fall to Pieces.” Cline herself wanted to meet Lynn and brought her to the hospital.

In 2020, Lynn released a book about their relationship, Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust. “Did I know meeting Patsy that day would change my life? No. How could I?” Lynn wrote in the book about her first encounter with Cline. “But I knew I’d found a real friend: a great singer, a proud momma, a woman who wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself.”

In the book, Lynn also spoke about how Cline pushed Lynn to stand up for herself as a woman in the business by demanding fair pay and pushing back on “dirty old men” in music. “You gotta set them straight, little gal,” Cline told Lynn. “Show them you don’t go for that kind of thing.” Another time, Lynn was shocked to hear Cline yelling at her manager, but Cline used it as a lesson for Lynn. “Hell’s bells, Loretta!” Cline said. “Those boys are your managers, not your bosses!”

Patsy Cline taught Loretta Lynn to defend herself

Lynn’s marriage to her husband Oliver Lynn was rife with infidelity and abuse. But after Lynn met Cline, she was better equipped to handle bad situations at home. “After I met Patsy, life got better for me because I fought back,” she told the Nashville Scene in 2000. “Before that, I just took it. I had to. I was 3,000 miles away from my mom and dad and had four little kids. There’s nothin’ I could do about it. But later on, I started speakin’ my mind when things weren’t right.”

Cline died in 1963 in a tragic plane crash. In 1977, Lynn recorded an album dedicated to her friend called I Rememeber Patsy, where Lynn covered some of Cline’s biggest hits.

The 2019 Lifetime movie Patsy & Loretta portrayed their relationship on screen.

Kitty Wells was a respected country singer

Like Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells was also a trailblazing country singer. She debuted before Cline and Lynn, paving the way for them to follow in her footsteps.

Wells became known for emotional songs in the 1950s such as “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” “Release Me,” “Making Believe,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Your Wild Life’s Gonna Get You Down,” and “I Heard the Jukebox Playing.”

Wells remained the top-ranking female country artist for over a decade and soon earned the title “Queen of Country.” Dolly Parton, who would later become known by the title, looked up to Wells for years.

RELATED: Loretta Lynn Spoke on the Afterlife Before Her Death: ‘I’m Gonna Stick With God’