“From the very beginning of Country’s commercial history in 1924 when Columbia captured the mountain music of Aunt Samantha and Eva Davis in a makeshift studio in New York, to the present day multi-million selling production houses of Nashville’s Music Row, the women of Country have been at the heart of the music, their songs a source of inspiration, desperation, comfort and joy, reflecting and profoundly influencing the lives of their fans.
Now, almost a century after their first pioneering Country releases, Sony Music have compiled this selection of tracks, celebrating the work of some of the strongest, most successful and creative female performers in the history of the genre - pioneers, icons, songwriters and modern day superstars.
‘First Ladies of Country’ is a classic collection, featuring No.1 records, massive selling singles and unexpected gems. From ‘Crazy’ by Patsy Cline in 1961 to ‘Follow Your Arrow’ the 2014 CMA Song of the Year by Kacey Musgraves, the track listing reads like the running orders from my ‘Bob Harris Country’ show on BBC Radio 2. Featuring a truly beautiful version of ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him’ by Emmylou Harris with Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton and other such giants of the genre like Rosanne Cash, Alison Krauss, and Mary Chapin Carpenter, all of whom have pushed Country music beyond what it was in the past. Spanning over fifty years, also included are vintage classics from Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn mixed with the lyrically brilliant ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’ by Miranda Lambert, the touching ‘If I Die Young’ by The Band Perry and other smash hits by the new stars of today.
Breakthrough acts like First Aid Kit and Maddie & Tae are now connecting with their fans in an amazing way, using social media and the internet to spread their message and bring a whole new young audience into Country music, not what anyone anticipated when Columbia made those first primitive recordings in 1924. Technology has come a long way since then but one thing has not changed. The women of Country still do what they have always done; reach out and touch our hearts with the honesty and integrity of their stories and their songs. This is a selection of some of their very best “ Bob Harris OBE