Country music was still a boy’s club in the early 1970s. As the decade moved forward though, a group of female performers — led by Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton — began chipping away at the proverbial “no girls allowed” sign that seemed to hang in front of the Billboard charts, blocking most women’s entrance into the Top 10. Lynn, who landed a Number One hit in 1970 with “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” scored another victory on this day in 1972, when she became the first female to win the Entertainer of the Year award from the Country Music Association.
Lynn, who literally ran to the stage after presenter Minnie Pearl announced her name, accepted the award with a combination of humility and humor.
“I’d like to say that I’ve won a lot of awards,” she began, “and this is one that I have been nominated for, but I never did get. This, I think, is the only one that I haven’t gotten. I’m real happy, but the only thing I’m kind of sad about is my husband is going hunting. He couldn’t make it back in to share my happiness with me. Thank you.”
One year later, Lynn wound up sharing that happiness with the entire country by naming her next album Entertainer of the Year – Loretta. In typical Loretta fashion, Entertainer of the Year flew against the rules of the male-dominated industry, thanks in large part to its lead-off track, “Rated ‘X.'” A controversial song about moving on — cautiously — after a divorce, “Rated ‘X'” exposed the double standard that seemed to exist in both country music and society at large. Why should divorced women be stigmatized while their ex-husbands got off scot-free? Lynn didn’t think it was fair… and enough people agreed with her to send “Rated ‘X'” to the top of the charts, landing another victory for the women of country music.