Flashback: Crystal Gayle Leads Female Country Chart History Makers - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Crystal Gayle Leads Group of Female Country History Makers

In April of 1980, the country songs chart’s top five positions were all held by women for the very first time

Crystal GayleCrystal Gayle

Crystal Gayle led a group of women in topping the country charts in 1980.

Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Since 1944, Billboard‘s Country Songs chart has served as something of a microcosm of country trends, in addition to reflecting the ever-changing musical tastes of country fans across the nation. When it comes to women and country music, although feminism certainly impacted the charts throughout the Seventies, thanks to such pioneering artists as the gutsy Loretta Lynn, it would be early in the next decade before women would dominate the charts in an unprecedented way.  

April 19th, 1980, was a watershed moment marked by a significant chart feat which had never before been achieved — and has never since. That week, the top five spots on the Hot Country Singles chart (now titled Hot Country Songs) were occupied by five women (and one man as part of a duet). They were:

1. “It’s Like We Never Said Goodbye,” Crystal Gayle

2. “A Lesson in Leavin’,” Dottie West

3. “Are You on the Road to Lovin’ Me Again,” Debby Boone

4. “Beneath Still Waters,” Emmylou Harris

5. “Two Story House,” Tammy Wynette and George Jones

Additionally, all of the five singles eventually reached the top of the chart, with the exception of “Two Story House,” which stalled at Number Two. And of all the songs, only Debby Boone’s featured a female co-writer (Debbie Hupp).

By comparison, this week’s chart features two female artists in the Top Five, yet they actually comprise one-half of the group Little Big Town, who are riding high on their “Girl Crush.” Country’s only current female solo acts who hit the higher reaches of the charts on a regular basis, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert, are in the Top Fifteen this week, with respectively, “Little Toy Guns” (13) and “Little Red Wagon” (14).

Meanwhile, newcomer Kelsea Ballerini is on her way up the charts with “Love Me Like You Mean It” in the Top Twenty. She’s co-headlining the CMT’ Next Women of Country Tour with Jana Kramer, which kicks off April 30th in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


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