No. 20: The Judds – Country’s Most Powerful Women of All Time
Grammys, ACM and CMA Awards and a rarely interrupted, five-year stretch of No. 1 hits guarantee the Judds a spot on this list of country music’s most powerful women. Their personal story of perseverance is what’s most impressive.
Determination and a refusal to take “no” for an answer paid off for this famous mother-daughter duo. They were hardly born into country music royalty — a spell on welfare preceded their ascension to country music fame and glory. “Mama He’s Crazy” was their first hit in 1984 and from there America fell in love with the music, the relationship and the personalities. To this day an interview with the Judds requires a single question — they’ll simply take over the interview, and you’ll be better for it.
Like so many country singers who recorded prior to the invent of Soundscan, it’s difficult to quantify their success. Country music was marginalized when it came time for record store proprietors to add up record sales. “Why Not Me” and “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)” are two songs for the curious to start with. The harmonies were more than just on key — it’s as if their hearts were also in tune when they’d sing.
When it came to the Top Duo awards at country music awards shows, the Judds were as sure of a bet as Miranda Lambert is today for Top Female Vocalist. They only released five studio albums during a short stay as hitmakers. Wynonna Judd would go solo, and while they’ve reunited periodically, it has mostly been to rely on old magic. The Judds’ influence on today’s generation isn’t totally clear. Aside from the Wreckers in the mid-2000s, you’re hard-pressed to find a female duo with a hit. Mother-daughter duos in 2017 might be a tough sell. Are we too cool for the Judds these days? That would be a shame.
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