Decolonising Country Music: A Look Into The Queen’s of Country Music and Its History

5678 Journalist Jess Hine explores the history of country music in this timeline piece.

The Origin of Country Music:

The music genre dates all the way back to the 1920s when a gospel guitar player and folklorist, Lesley Riddle, started “The First Family in Country Music” and began to help shape Country Music. The music stemmed from the fiddle tunes and hymns from the workhouses and ballads. Lesley Riddle was born in Burnsville, North Carolina where he tripped on an auger and resulted in his right leg amputated. During his recovery, Riddle picked up a guitar and began the journey to sculpt Country music as we know it today. In the early 1920s there was no divide between country music and Blues as we know them today as slightly separate genres. Blues will have then been considered a sector within Country music.


  • Lesley Riddle discovered a form of country music when venturing into a new hobby after having his leg amputated.
  • DeFord Bailey, a talented harmonica player, was the first African-American to perform Country Music on the Grande Ole Opry stage in Nashville

Country music was still developing and was mainly male-dominated during the 1920s.


  • Ruby Falls was the first black country singer. In the 1930’s she became the “Chitlin’ Circuit, despite the era’s persuasive racial divides.
  • Bessie Smith, the “Empress of Blues” was the most popular female blues and country singer during the 1930’s
  • Ma Rainey, “Mother of Blues” was the first popular female country and blues singer.


  • Patsy Cline was considered one of the most influential American singers of the 20th century. Her career in Country music took off in the early 1950’s and she has been an icon ever since.
  • Odetta Holmes- “The Voice of Civil Rights Movements”


  • Linda Martell is an American singer. She became the first commercially successful black female artist in the country music field and the first to play the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.


  • Dolly Parton’s first single launched in 1971 and it was called “Joshua”, she continued her reign as Queen of Country with more hit songs through the 70s such as “Jolene”, “Love is like a butterfly” and “I will always love you”.
  • Tanya Tucker conquered to Country music at the young age of 13 years old.


  • Tammy Wynette, is considered one of the genres most influential artists
  • Tanya Tucker was still thriving in Country music during the 1980’s
  • Emmylou Harris is an American singer and activist and is known for having artistic direction.


  • Shania Twain- “Queen of Country Pop”
  • The Chicks were a huge contraversy for Country music during the 90s after the girl band publicly critisized present Bush which triggered a lot of backlash for them.
  • Deana Carter  is an American country music singer-songwriter who broke through in 1996 with the release of her debut album Did I Shave My Legs for This?
  • Jo Dee Messina became a huge success during the 90s following her debut album selling over 500,000 copys.


  • Taylor Swift began her career in County music back in 2006
  • Carrie underwood shot to fame within Country music after the 21-year-old performed on S4 of American Idol
  • Sara Evans hit records with her singe “I’m a little bit country” and followed with many other NO1 hits


  • Carly Pearce flourished making Country-Pop hits
  • Beyonce made headlines after announcing her the release of her first Country album and was trending with her song “Texas, hold em” in 2024
  • Gabby Barrett finished this on S16 of American Idol and shortly became one of the most listened to people in music.
  • Tracy Chapman becomes the first black songwriter to win song of the year at the Country Music Awards with ‘Fast Car’.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Gabby Barrett Foehner (@gabbybarrett_)

read more

Written by: Jessica Hine