by Marcus K. Dowling
Whether they’re harmonizing effortlessly, sharing similarly instantaneously recognizable looks or shouldering the expectations of mirroring superstar success, country music’s best-loved sibling pairs are all well regarded for crafting hit songs that are — or possibly will one day — be a part of the canon of iconic, adored, and timeless country songs. Here are five — of what are many — of these pairs and groups.
Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle
Though separated in age by two decades, Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle are indeed siblings. Gayle’s career started as a teenage backup singer in Lynn’s touring band. However, by the age of 19 in 1970, she signed a contract with Decca Records. By 1977, Gayle finally achieved a success level similar to Lynn, as her single “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” topped the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart reached the top-five of the Hot 100 chart, and also had global acclaim. Even deeper, Gayle’s 1970 debut single, “I’ve Cried (the Blue Right Out of My Eyes),” was written by Lynn. Moreover, on a later-released Gayle compilation album, she recorded three songs that her older sister penned. “Music was in the souls of every resident of every holler in this hills of Kentucky. It wasn’t just around our house; it was everywhere,” noted Gayle in a 2019 PBS interview.
The Brothers Osborne
Deale, Maryland natives TJ and John Osborne have spent the last decade wowing country audiences with what All Music refers to as “earthy, passionate country-rock” bearing TJ Osborne’s “sonorous, ultra-deep voice.” Platinum-selling singles “Stay A Little Longer” and “It Ain’t My Fault” are notable alongside the entirety of their radio-released singles so far in that they’ve all achieved top-40 country radio success. Plus, the sibling tandem has Brothers received five Academy of Country Music Awards, four Country Music Association awards, and seven Grammy nominations to date. Also, TJ Osborne has recently come out of the closet as gay, making him the first openly gay artist signed to a major country music label. Regarding what allows the Brothers Osborne to be successful, John noted in a 2020 interview, “[as artists], you should really stretch yourself at all costs…stretch yourself creatively every record.”
Reba, Susie, Alice, and Pake McEntire
On Reba McEntire’s 2017 studio album Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope she performs a version of Albert E. Brumley’s legendary 1929 gospel hymn “I’ll Fly Away” features the superstar’s mother, Jackie, and sisters Susie and Alice. Reba’s siblings and family have always been a part of her music. Susie McEntire was a touring backup vocalist with Reba in the 1980s and provided background vocals on her early 80s singles “Heart” and “Unlimited.” “Music conjures up great memories and goes hand and hand with us, McEntires,” McEntire noted to the Nashville Country Daily. Even deeper, RCA Nashville signed their brother Pake McEntire in 1986. Too Old To Grow Up Now, his subsequently released debut album yielded two top-20 Billboard Hot Country Chart singles, “Every Night” and “Savin’ My Love for You.”
The Band Perry
For the first two decades of the 21st century, Kimberly, Neil, and Reid Perry’s success with hits like “If I Die, Young,” “Better Dig Two,” and “Live Forever” yielded ACM, CMA, and Grammy Award wins, nearly 20 million singles sold worldwide, and two worldwide number-one albums. Republic Nashville signed the Jackson, Mississippi natives after being discovered by Garth Brooks’ manager Bob Doyle, who assisted them in making recordings sent to Scott Borchetta, who was then head of the label. Regarding their rise to fame, Kimberly Perry noted, “We did a thousand shows before we had a song on the radio. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything. The live element is our first love. We’re able to handle whatever comes our way because it’s probably already happened on stage.”
Hilary and Rylee Scott
In 2016, Lady A’s Hilary Scott released Love Remains, a Grammy, Dove, and Billboard Award-winning album. Joining Hilary Scott for accompaniment on the album was her then-teenaged sister Rylee. Notably, this was not their first collaboration. Hilary, Rylee, and their parents Linda Davis and Lang Scott, have toured as Linda Davis & The Scott Family. “We have been blessed to tour and record with some of the biggest names in music,” Lang Scott has noted in the past. To wit, Davis is a multi-Grammy-award-winning recording artist who has toured and recorded with Reba McEntire and Kenny Rogers, plus toured with George Strait and Garth Brooks. As for Lang Scott, he was a featured guitarist and background vocalist in Reba McEntire’s touring band for many years. Plus, he played on many of her most commercially successful records.