How Women are Redefining the Sound of Country Guitar

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When it comes to country music, the guitar is the backbone of the genre. And for too long, it was dominated by men. However, in recent years, a group of talented women have been changing the tune and revolutionizing the sound of country guitar. These women have broken through the barriers and stereotypes to make their mark in a world that was once considered a boys’ club. In this article, we will take a deep dive into the stories of these trailblazing female guitarists, from the pioneers who paved the way to the modern-day players expanding the genre’s horizons. Get ready to be amazed by the sheer skill and creativity of these women who are transforming country music.

The Pioneers

The Pioneers
When you think of country guitar, your mind may immediately conjure up images of Stetsons, cowboy boots, and male musicians strumming their six-strings. But the history of this beloved music genre tells a different story, a story of groundbreaking women who bravely stepped into a man’s world and transformed the sound of country guitar forever. From the revolutionary Maybelle Carter to the remarkable Mrs. Guitar, these pioneering women paved the way for future generations of female guitarists to follow. So let’s delve into the untold stories of the trailblazers who dared to change the tune of country guitar. (Link: 10 Trailblazing Women in Country Guitar Music)

Maybelle Carter

Maybelle Carter is one of the pioneers of country guitar and a true icon in the music industry. She was born in Virginia in 1909 and started playing guitar at a very young age. Maybelle is best known for her unique style of guitar playing – the “Carter Scratch”. She used her fingers to create a distinctive sound that would change the sound of country guitar forever.

Maybelle Carter was the lead guitarist of the Carter Family, one of the most influential groups in the history of country music. They recorded over 300 songs from 1927 to 1943, and Maybelle’s guitar playing was an essential part of their sound. Her technique involved plucking the bass notes with her thumb while simultaneously strumming the melody with her index finger. This resulted in a full and vibrant sound that became her trademark.

Maybelle’s influence on country guitar playing cannot be overstated. Her style has influenced countless musicians, and her unique sound is still being emulated today. Her influence is also recognized in her induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970.

Maybelle is part of a group of untold country guitar heroines whose stories and contributions have gone largely unrecognized. As we celebrate the trailblazing women who are changing the sound of country guitar today, it’s important to remember those who paved the way for this evolution. They deserve just as much recognition and respect as their modern counterparts.

For those interested in learning more about pioneering women in country guitar, check out our article on /untold-country-guitar-heroines/.

Mrs. Guitar

Mrs. Guitar, born Sylvia Robinson, was one of the most influential and skilled country guitarists of her era. Born in Texas in 1936, Mrs. Guitar began playing guitar as a young child and quickly showed prodigious talent, becoming a regular performer on local radio and television shows in her teens.

Birth Name: Sylvia Robinson
Birth Year: 1936
Birthplace: Texas, USA
Instrument: Guitar
Genre: Country

In the 1960s, Mrs. Guitar moved to Nashville and quickly became a highly sought-after session musician, lending her talents to recordings by stars like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Tammy Wynette. Her distinctive style, characterized by lightning-fast fingerpicking and virtuosic chord progressions, earned her the nickname “Mrs. Guitar” and cemented her status as one of the most innovative country guitarists of her time.

Mrs. Guitar was also a trailblazer for female musicians, in an era where women were often overlooked and underestimated in the male-dominated world of country music. Her success and pioneering spirit paved the way for future generations of women guitarists, inspiring many of the artists who would come to dominate the scene in the years to come.

Despite her contributions to the genre, Mrs. Guitar’s legacy has been somewhat overshadowed by the more recent wave of female guitarists who have come to prominence in the 21st century. However, her impact on the world of country guitar can still be felt today, and her unparalleled skill and dedication to her craft continue to inspire musicians around the world.

If you want to learn more about other pioneering women in country guitar, please check out our article on Pioneering Women in Country Guitar.

Breaking the Mold

Breaking The Mold
Country music is often stereotyped and confined to an unwavering sound, but these female guitarists prove that it does not always have to be that way. They broke the mold set by their male counterparts and in doing so carved out their own paths and distinct sounds. These guitarists undoubtedly made strides in country music and paved the way for generations to come. From Kaki King to Molly Tuttle to Roberta Flack, these women have challenged themselves and their instruments, ultimately producing some of the most innovative and groundbreaking music in the industry. Read on to learn more about these trailblazing acoustic female country guitar players who are shaking things up in music history.

Kaki King

Kaki King is a true trailblazer when it comes to women revolutionizing the sound of country guitar. While she may not fit the stereotypical mold of a country guitarist, her unique style and virtuosity have earned her a prominent place in the industry.

King’s Style

King’s style incorporates a mix of fingerpicking, tapping, and percussive techniques to create a truly innovative sound. Her playing is heavily influenced by bluegrass, jazz, and rock music, giving her a distinct edge that sets her apart from other guitarists in the country genre.

Early Career

King started playing guitar at the age of four and quickly developed a passion for the instrument. She began her career in New York City’s underground music scene, playing in various clubs and bars. Her big break came when she was discovered by Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters, who invited her to open for the band on their North American tour in 2008.

Revolutionizing the Country Genre

As a young, female guitarist, King faced many challenges breaking into the male-dominated country music industry. However, her talent and unique style eventually won over audiences and critics alike. Today, she is considered one of the greatest guitarists of her generation, and has inspired countless other women to pick up the instrument and make their mark on the country music scene.

Here is a table of female country guitar players who are pushing boundaries and breaking gender barriers:

Molly Tuttle Acoustic Female Country Guitar Players
Courtney Hartman Women in Country Guitar
Sierra Hull Breaking Gender Barriers in Country Guitar
Maggie Rose Women Guitarists in Country Music
Roberta Flack Acoustic Country Women Guitar Evolution
Maybelle Carter Country Guitar Heroines

These women are changing the face of country guitar and paving the way for future generations of female guitarists. King’s unique style and innovative techniques have certainly played a role in this evolution, and her contributions to the country music scene will continue to inspire and influence musicians for years to come.

Molly Tuttle

Molly Tuttle is a name that has been on many people’s lips lately when it comes to revolutionizing the sound of country music. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • First female to win Guitar Player of the Year award: Tuttle made history in 2017 when she became the first woman ever to win the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Guitar Player of the Year award.
  • Versatile musician and songwriter: Tuttle is not only a talented guitarist, but also a gifted songwriter and singer. She has released several critically acclaimed albums, which showcase her range as a musician.
  • Blending genres: Tuttle is not afraid to push the boundaries of the country genre. Her music often incorporates elements of rock, folk, and bluegrass, which has helped to expand the horizons of country guitar.
  • Collaborations with other female artists: Tuttle has collaborated with many other female artists, including Taylor Swift and Sierra Hull. By working together and supporting each other, they are helping to pave the way for more women in the country music industry.
  • Advocate for female musicians: Tuttle is also a passionate advocate for female musicians. She has spoken out about the challenges that women face in the music industry, and has worked to create more opportunities for women to showcase their talents.

All of these factors make Molly Tuttle one of the most exciting and influential female guitarists in country music today. Her unique blend of skill, creativity, and advocacy is helping to change the tune of country guitar, and inspire a new generation of female musicians.

Roberta Flack

Roberta Flack is a name that may surprise many fans of country guitar, as she is more commonly associated with R&B and soul music. However, Flack has also made significant contributions to the sound and style of country guitar. Born in North Carolina, Flack began playing piano at a young age, but it wasn’t until college that she picked up the guitar.

Breaking the Mold: Flack’s unique style incorporates elements of jazz, blues, and folk music, showcasing her technical skills and versatility as a guitarist. Her smooth and soulful vocals blend seamlessly with her guitar playing, creating a sound that is both soothing and powerful.

Influences: Flack has cited artists such as Elizabeth Cotten and Mississippi John Hurt as major influences on her guitar playing. She has also stated that she draws inspiration from the natural world and often incorporates the sounds of nature into her music.

To showcase Flack’s talent and unique style, here is a table highlighting some of her most notable achievements:

Highlight Description
First Album: In 1969, Flack released her debut album, “First Take,” which included the hit song “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”
Grammy Awards: Flack is a four-time Grammy winner, receiving awards for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance in 1973 for “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1975 for “Feel Like Makin’ Love.”
Cover Songs: Flack’s cover of “The Closer I Get to You,” a duet with Donny Hathaway, reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978. Her cover of the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody” also charted on the Hot 100 in 1969.
Influence: Flack’s unique guitar playing and soulful vocals have influenced numerous artists across genres, including Norah Jones, India.Arie, and Alicia Keys.

Despite not being a traditional country artist, Roberta Flack’s contributions to the sound and style of country guitar cannot be ignored. Her unique blend of jazz, blues, and folk influences, combined with her technical skills and soulful vocals, have left an indelible mark on the genre.

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Expanding Country Guitar’s Horizon

As the world becomes more diverse, so do the voices that shape country music. While some may still view country guitar as a “good ol’ boy” club, a new generation of talented female guitarists is gradually taking the reins and pushing the boundaries of the genre’s traditional sound. These women are fearless and innovative, with their fingers dancing across fretboards to create a new sonic landscape. Let’s explore the stories of three outstanding guitarists who are changing the tune of country guitar. From tap harmonics to jazz-infused phrasing, they provide a fresh take on the sound that’s making waves with every note they play.

Courtney Hartman

Courtney Hartman is one of the most exciting young country guitarists to emerge in recent years. She began playing at a young age and quickly developed a reputation for her technical ability and sensitivity as a musician. Today, she is known for her soulful, experimental approach to the guitar, which incorporates elements of bluegrass, folk, and Americana.

Musical Style: Experimental, soulful, bluegrass, folk, Americana
Influences: Tony Rice, Doc Watson, Elizabeth Cotten, Norman Blake
Notable Performances: Appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, toured with Darol Anger and the Furies
Awards: Winner of the Hazel Dickens Memorial Scholarship, finalist in the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Troubadour Contest

Hartman has performed with a number of prominent artists over the years, including Tim O’Brien, Darol Anger, and the Della Mae Band. She has also released several critically acclaimed albums, including “Nothing We Say,” which showcases her introspective, poetic songwriting.

What sets Hartman apart from many other young guitarists on the country scene is her willingness to experiment with different sounds and techniques. In her hands, the guitar becomes a canvas for exploration and self-expression, with each note carefully chosen and placed for maximum emotional impact.

Whether she’s playing a traditional bluegrass tune or one of her own original compositions, Hartman brings a level of soulfulness and sensitivity to her playing that is truly remarkable. With her continued dedication to pushing the boundaries of what is possible on the guitar, there’s no doubt that she will continue to be an influential figure in the world of country music for years to come.

Sierra Hull

Sierra Hull is a master of the mandolin and an accomplished guitarist who blurs the lines between country, bluegrass, and folk. Here are some key highlights of her journey in revolutionizing the sound of country guitar:

  • Musical Prodigy: Sierra Hull was born in Tennessee in 1991 and began playing mandolin at age eight. By the time she was 11, she had won the mandolin championship at the prestigious National Bluegrass Festival in Kentucky.
  • Trailblazing Album: In 2016, Hull released her album “Weighted Mind,” which was produced by Grammy Award-winning musician Béla Fleck. The album showcases her incredible talent as both a mandolin and guitar player, and earned her a nomination for the Best Folk Album Grammy.
  • Collaborations with Country Icons: Hull has collaborated with some of the biggest names in country music, including Garth Brooks and Brad Paisley. In 2014, she joined the band Highway 111, which was fronted by the legendary Dolly Parton
  • Innovative Technique: Hull’s guitar playing style is characterized by a “flatpicking” technique, which emphasizes the use of a single guitar pick to play fast and intricate melodies. Hull’s clean and precise playing has earned her fans around the world, and she has been recognized by Guitar World magazine as one of the most innovative guitarists of her generation.
  • Diversity in Sound: While Hull is best known for her bluegrass and folk collaborations, she is always exploring new musical horizons. In recent years, she has experimented with jazz and classical music, and has even performed with the Grammy-winning string quartet Brooklyn Rider.

Through her impressive musical career and innovative techniques, Sierra Hull has played an important role in changing the tune of country guitar and breaking down genre barriers. Her progression as an artist and her continued willingness to experiment and evolve proves that the sound of country guitar is far from stagnant.

Maggie Rose

When it comes to modern country music, few women have made as big an impact on the guitar as Maggie Rose. Born in Maryland, Rose began playing guitar and writing songs in her early teens, but it wasn’t until she moved to Nashville that her career truly began to take off. Inspired by classic rock and blues as well as traditional country, Rose’s music blends old and new influences to create something truly unique.

First Album Release 2009
Genre Country
Instruments Played Guitar, piano
Awards Won None to date

Since releasing her debut album in 2009, Rose has become known for her powerful vocals and her dynamic guitar playing. She’s toured extensively throughout the US and Canada, opening for acts like Dwight Yoakam and Tim McGraw. She’s also collaborated with other artists, such as Kelly Clarkson and Martina McBride.

One of Rose’s most notable performances came in 2017 when she played guitar on the CMT Artists of the Year tribute to the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. In a powerful performance that showcased both her vocal abilities and her guitar skills, Rose and her fellow musicians paid tribute to the lives lost in the tragedy.

Despite her success, Rose remains humble and down-to-earth, seeing music as a way to connect with others and bring people together. As she continues to grow and evolve as an artist, there’s no doubt that she’ll continue to push the boundaries of the country genre and inspire others to do the same.


After exploring the history of women in country guitar and how they’ve revolutionized the sound of the genre, it becomes clear that these women have broken the mold and paved the way for future generations of female guitarists. Their contributions have pushed the boundaries of what was previously thought possible within country music.

From the pioneering work of Maybelle Carter, the first woman to bring the guitar into the spotlight, to the boundary-pushing talent of Kaki King and Molly Tuttle, these women have left an indelible mark on the music world. Additionally, the contributions of Roberta Flack, Courtney Hartman, Sierra Hull, and Maggie Rose have expanded the horizon of country guitar to new heights.

It’s truly remarkable how these women have shattered stereotypes and expectations within a male-dominated industry, but their success is a testament to their talent, perseverance, and dedication to their craft. By refusing to be held back by outdated societal norms, these women have shown that anything is possible with enough passion and hard work.

As the legacy of these pioneers continues to inspire a new generation of female musicians, we can look forward to even more innovation and creativity in the world of country guitar. The future is bright, and it’s all thanks to these trailblazing women who dared to change the tune.

Frequently Asked Questions

What inspired women to revolutionize the sound of country guitar?

Women have always been drawn to country guitar, but they were often excluded from the male-dominated industry. However, with perseverance and passion, women have carved out their place in the industry, inspiring others to do the same.

Who is Maybelle Carter?

Maybelle Carter was a pioneer in country guitar and a member of the Carter family band. She helped shape the sound of country music and influenced future guitarists, both male and female.

Who is Mrs. Guitar?

Ella Fitzgerald gave Carol Kaye the nickname “Mrs. Guitar.” She is a studio musician who has recorded on countless hit songs. Her contributions to music and the guitar have been enormous.

Who is Kaki King?

Kaki King is a Grammy-nominated guitarist known for her unique fingerstyle technique. She has collaborated with artists across genres and continues to push the boundaries of guitar playing.

Who is Molly Tuttle?

Molly Tuttle is a bluegrass artist and guitarist with a style that blends traditional and progressive techniques. In 2017, she became the first woman to win the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Guitar Player of the Year award.

Who is Roberta Flack?

Roberta Flack is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who has had a successful career in both R&B and jazz. Her 1973 album “Killing Me Softly” is considered a classic.

Who is Courtney Hartman?

Courtney Hartman is a guitarist and singer-songwriter who combines traditional and modern styles. She was a member of the bluegrass band Della Mae before pursuing a solo career.

Who is Sierra Hull?

Sierra Hull is a mandolinist and guitarist who has been called a bluegrass prodigy. She has collaborated with many well-known artists and is recognized as one of the top musicians in the industry.

Who is Maggie Rose?

Maggie Rose is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who blends elements of country, rock, and soul. She has been praised for her dynamic voice and impressive guitar playing.

What can we expect in the future of women in country guitar?

The future is bright for women in country guitar. As more women continue to break down barriers and gain recognition for their talent, the industry will become more diverse and welcoming.


About the author

Hi there! I’m Jack Little – an avid country music fan with tons of live country performances in the past. I used to play banjo in a country band with my best friend John Peters, who’s a true country harmonica master. Those were great years and I’m still mastering new banjo playing techniques, writing my own country songs and lyrics, and collecting banjos!

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