by Jessica Nicholson
In celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, CMT is taking a moment to honor some of country music’s talented female creators, business leaders and working mothers.
These women have thrived while balancing the 24/7 demands of a career in music—time spent on the road traveling hours from concert to concert, writing and recording sessions, photo shoots, video shoots, media appearances, management and label meetings and more.
Yet, they’ve risen to the upper echelons of the music industry while also balancing the demands of career and family.
Here, CMT highlights some of country music’s working moms:
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Premier vocalist Martina McBride, a four-time CMA Female Vocalist of the Year winner, is mom to three daughters, Delaney (26), Emma (22), and Ava (15).
Along the way she’s balanced family life with earning chart hits including “Wild Angels,” “A Broken Wing,” and “My Baby Loves Me.”
She knows firsthand the choices working mothers often have to make to keep balance between life and career. Not long after her children were born, McBride made the decision to scale back on tour dates—and thus income—to spend more time with her daughters. Like many artists, McBride often brought her young children on the road with her as well.
“They love it. They’ve been on the road since they were little kids so they’re used to it. It’s a great way to spend a lot of time together and see the country and do a lot of fun things. So they really enjoy it,” she told Parade in 2010.
A 2007 article for mixonline.com detailed how McBride and her team look out for their fellow road crew members, making sure to schedule no more than two weeks on the road in a row, to help reduce the amount of time crewmembers had to spend away from their own families.
Shania Twain’s brand of well-constructed, crossover-ready pop tunes and empowering anthems such as “Man! I Feel Like A Woman!” led her to the upper echelons of both the country and pop charts. Her 1997 album Come On Over is the 12th biggest-selling album overall, according to the RIAA, with 20 million units sold. She’s also won five Grammys and penned a memoir.
Shania Twain has one son, Eja Lange (19), born in 2001.
“I love being a mother. I wish I had more children. At 52, I don’t think I’m going to have any more children. I’m probably not capable. But I decided that, well, maybe I’m just going to stay where I’m at. I have a beautiful step-daughter and I have a beautiful son. I’m very happy. I just love being a parent and I would have loved to have had more kids,” Twain said on TV show Lorraine, reports femalefirst.co.uk. “I really do love being a family person. I love cooking and packing lunches and making pancakes on Saturday mornings and all that sort of stuff,” she said.
“The Bones” singer and reigning CMA Female Vocalist of the Year Maren Morris and husband Ryan Hurd welcomed son Hayes Andrew Hurd in March 2020.
In 2019, Maren Morris opened up about the struggles of being a working mom in the music industry, adding that she refuses to choose between her work as an artist and her family life.
“I know there are so many women who feel like they have to choose between being a touring musician and starting a family. I never wanted my people to choose,” she wrote. “I think it’s a great conversation to have if you’re an artist who employs women. So let’s shred for 90 minutes and then go rock these babes to sleep on the bus with a glass of wine.”
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Lady A singer/songwriter Hillary Scott gave birth to daughter Eisele Kay in 2013. She and her Lady A bandmates Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood continued earning hit singles, including chart-topper “Bartender” in 2014. In 2015, Scott revealed she had a miscarriage, and later welcomed twin daughters Betsy Mack and Emory JoAnn in 2018.
In 2017, Scott recorded a Christian album with her family, and earned a pair of Grammys for the album Love Remains and the single “Thy Will.” On Lady A’s most recent album, Scott, Haywood and Kelley included a sweet tribute to their children, “What I’m Leaving For,” about how hard it can be to manage life on the road with parenthood. Scott recently took part in Thomas Rhett’s inspirational single “Be A Light,” alongside McEntire, Chris Tomlin and Keith Urban.
In 2019, Scott told Closer Weekly about the struggles of being a working mother and how she helps keep her family on a healthy path.
“It’s a juggle. I think no matter what you do as a working mama, it’s a juggle. So, every few weeks, every few months, my husband and I have a real honest conversation of, ‘Are our girls doing good? OK, then we’re going to keep going,’” she continued.
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Kimberly Schlapman and Karen Fairchild
Little Big Town’s otherworldly harmonies have earned them loads of critical acclaim, four Grammy honors and hits such as “Pontoon” and “Better Man.” In 2017, Little Big Town’s Kimberly Schlapman revealed that she and husband Stephen Schlapman had adopted a newborn girl, Dolly Grace. Dolly joined big sister, Daisy Pearl, who was born in 2007. Karen Fairchild and husband/Little Big Town bandmate Jimi Westbrook welcomed their son Elijah in 2010.
The group’s members have all brought their children on the road with them.
“If I had to leave my family and go do my job like some many people have to do, I would be in a constant stage of sadness,” Schlapman told The Boot in 2010. “I’m just so grateful that we are in a place where we can bring our family along. I don’t think I could do it if I had to leave my family behind. I love being onstage and seeing Daisy and my husband out watching us and her dancing. It fills my heart up!”
Former American Idol finalist Gabby Barrett became one of the few new female artists to break through in a big way at country radio in the past few years. Her single “I Hope,” which she co-wrote, soared to No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart and earned 4x Platinum status. She followed the hit with the Top 10 “The Good Ones,” which has been certified Gold.
Through Idol, she not only began to build an audience eager to hear her powerful voice and heartfelt music, but she also found love with fellow Idol contestant Cade Foehner. They wed in 2019 and welcomed their first child, daughter Baylah May Foehner, on Jan. 18, 2021.
Last year, Barrett told Cody Alan that she’s taken advice from another superstar entertainer and mother who has been there: Carrie Underwood.
“She’s been very sweet with texting me,” Barrett said. “She actually text me when I announced that I was pregnant and said, ’If you ever need mom advice, let me know because I am totally here.’ And I was like, ’Absolutely. I will take you up on that.’”
“I probably annoyed her because I sent her a long list of questions,” Barrett added. “She was nice enough to answer them all back, and she has given me some good advice. It’s extremely helpful because coming from someone like her.”
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Last year was a breakthrough year for Guyton, who released a pair of captivating songs—one, “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” addressing gender inequality, and the other, “Black Like Me,” a transparent look at Guyton’s own experiences with racial discrimination. In August, Guyton announced that she and husband Grant Savoy were expecting their first child together. Even as the couple prepared to welcome their first child, Guyton was already showing her sterling work ethic as she also geared up for the release of her EP Bridges, which came in September 2020. Just days after the release of the album, Guyton performed “What Are You Gonna Tell Her?” at the Academy of Country Music Awards, becoming the first black solo female country artist to perform her own song on the program.
The singer-songwriter told People that when she learned she was pregnant, at first she had mixed feelings about how she would balance motherhood with career.
“In my mind, as a woman in the music industry, you think, ’Oh, I can’t be pregnant and have a career. I can’t be a mom and have a career.’ I thought those things,” Guyton said. “I had to just completely do some deprogramming in my mind and realize that we all deserve happiness and we all deserve a family.”
Guyton and Savoy welcomed son Grayson in January 2021. Guyton is currently nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance for “Black Like Me” and an ACM award for New Female Artist of the Year at the upcoming ceremonies. She is set to perform at the upcoming Grammy Awards on March 14.
Faith Hill certainly knows a thing or two about hard work. Within a five-year span, Hill had three daughters, Gracie (born 1997), Maggie (1998) and Audrey (2001), and released two of her biggest –selling albums to date: 1998’s Faith (certified 6x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for six million copies sold) and her breakthrough crossover project Breathe, which was certified 8x Platinum.
The album Faith contained hits such as “This Kiss, “ “Let Me Let Go” and a collaboration with husband and fellow country star Tim McGraw, “Just To Hear You Say That You Love Me.” Breathe was spearheaded by the chart juggernaut of a title track, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the top pop song in 2000, according to Billboard’s Year-End Chart. The album also included the smoldering McGraw duet “Let’s Make Love.”
“You just never stop going until your head’s on the pillow at the end of the day,” Hill said in 2006. “Any woman out there with a career and children knows that.”
Seven-time Grammy winner Carrie Underwood and husband Mike Fisher are parents to two sons, 6-year-old Isaiah and 2-year-old Jacob. This multi-talented singer, songwriter, actress, author and creator of her own line of fitness apparel knows how to multi-task. In 2019, just months after welcoming Jacob, Underwood launched her Cry Pretty Tour 360, a run of 60 shows in support of her 2018 album Cry Pretty.
In 2018, while pregnant with her second child Jacob, Underwood told US Weekly about the work it takes to balance home and career.
“Balance is what it’s all about. No matter what your job is,” she told US Weekly on the red carpet at CMT Artists of the Year in 2018. “Being a mom, working and dividing your time. It is what we all have to do as mothers.”
The singer, songwriter, entertainer actress, author, producer and Broadway star has been a steady champion of women for decades, both as a role model and in her music, whether she is praising hard-working single mothers in “I’m A Survivor” or encouraging mothers to live out their dreams in “Is There Life Out There?”.
A working mom herself, Reba gave birth to her son, Shelby Blackstock, in February 1990, just one month after the release of the movie Tremors, which gave McEntire her first feature film role. In true fearless McEntire fashion, she was back on tour a few months after welcoming her son. By September that same year, she had recorded and released Rumor Has It, which went on to sell more than 3 million copies and included the No. 1 hit “You Lie” as well as the title track and “Fancy,” her now-iconic rags-to-riches hit. She also has five stepchildren from her previous marriages.
In 2010, she told The Boot about one of the most powerful lessons she has learned through being a parent.
“You have to stand firm on what you tell kids to do but then stand back and be patient and see how they’re going to react. That’s hard for us, to be patient.”
Loretta Lynn’s rise from a hardscrabble childhood in the foothills of Kentucky, and becoming a wife and mother while still in her teens, to becoming a Country Music Hall of Fame member, storyteller extraordinaire and a fiery inspiration to generations of women is the stuff of country music legend.
Lynn was already a mother to four children—Betty Sue, Jack Benny, Ernest Ray, and Clara Marie—by the time she earned her first Top 15 hit on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart with “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” in 1960.
Twin daughters Patsy and Peggy were born in 1964, the same year Lynn earned Top 5 hits including “Wine, Women and Song” and “Happy Birthday,” as well as the Top 15 hit “Mr. and Mrs. Used To Be” with Ernest Tubb.
Less than 10 years later, she became the first female to win the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year, in 1972. Lynn has become a musical icon, with hits including “One’s on the Way,” “Fist City,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man,” and more. She’s earned three Grammy wins, including two wins in 2004 for her work on the Van Lear Rose album, and the song “Portland Oregon” with Jack White. In 1988, she was elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame. This year, she releases her 50th studio album, Still Woman Enough, on March 19.