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Ten Almost Forgotten Female Country Music Singers

Updated on November 03, 2016

Not Totally Forgotten Female Country Singers

It's time to turn back the musical clock and look at few underrated and potentially forgotten female country singers. Many of these talented and lovely ladies began their careers in the 80's, a few in the 70's and even one or two in the 90's, but even though they might not share the same time line, for the beginnings of their careers, they do all fall into the categories of easily forgotten, simply over looked and under-rated.

Lane Brody, Helen Cornelius, Shelly West are just a few of the ladies we will be taking a little bit of a closer look at and listen too in this article which provides a brief performer biography, videos, trivia, and more. Let's get on with our visit, shall we?

Lane Brody

Lane on the cover of her single He Burns Me Up
Lane on the cover of her single He Burns Me Up

Lane born as Lynn Connie Voorlas was born September 25, 1955 and by age 12 had written her first song. After graduating from high school, sent went to New York to work on a music career and eventually ended up in Chicago where she made a living by singing jingles for products like beer and motorcycles.

In 1976, she released her first single You're Gonna Make Love to Me under the name Lynn Niles. Her next move was to California in 1981 and she signed a contract with Liberty Records and released her self penned song He's Taken which didn't crack the Top 40. Her next single, More Nights made it into the Top 60. A minor hit came her way when she did a duet Thom Bresh When It Comes to Love.

In 1982, she had a No. 15 hit with Over You which was used in the feature film Tender Mercies. The song received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song in 1984. Also, during the 1984 Olympics, Brody was heard by millions singing jingles for Beatrice Foods which did a massive advertising campaign during that time. She was nicknamed "the voice of the 1984 Olympics".

She and songwriter John Weilder wrote The Yellow Rose based on an old Civil War standard for the theme to the television series The Yellow Rose on NBC in 1984. She and singer Johnny Lee recorded a single version of the song which went to the top of the country charts.

In 1985, off of her self titled album, Lane Brody, she had two hits, He Burns Me Up and Baby's Eyes.

In 1986, she and Johnny Lee recorded a duet I Could Get Used to This which failed to make the Top 40 country charts.

Lane also wrote and performed All the Unsung Heroes for a documentary on the Vietnam War Memorial.

Lane continues to record with her most recent album in 2010 On the Wings of Songs.

  • Lane also has acting on her resume with role in the 1986 TV series Heart of the City episode Don't Sell Yourself to the Cannibals airing in October.

  • Actress Linda Hamilton lip-synced Lane's vocals in the TV movie Country Gold which starred Loni Anderson as a country music singer.

  • Susan Dey sang Lane's composition Just a Little More Love from the TV movie The Gift of Love (1982) which was nominated for an Emmy

Helen Cornelius Best Remembered For Her Duets with Jim Ed Brown

Helen born Helen Lorene Johnson was born on December 6, 1941. She had a love for music thanks to listening to The Grand Ole Opry as well as listening to her brothers who played in bands. Eventually, she got in on the performing act and formed a trio with her sisters, Judy and Sharon. She would eventually go solo and perform with her own band The Crossroads.

When she graduated from high school, she married and found work as a secretary, but she never gave up her love for singing and performed whenever possible. It was in the 1960s that she began to establish a name for herself as a song writer and after submitting a demo tape to Columbia/Screen Gems Music they hired her on. When the company folded, she sent a demo tape to Jerry Crutchfield who signed her to MCA Music. Crutchfield also helped her secured a recording contract with Columbia Records.

In 1973, she recorded and released two unsuccessful singles. In 1975 on RCA record label she released two more songs, but neither managed to chart.

In 1976, she was paired with country singer Jim Ed Brown and the pair released the successful duet, I Don't Want To Have to Marry You which hit No. 1 on the country charts. She then tried her hand at another solo effort There's Always a Goodbye, but it failed to capture listeners attention. Several more duets with Brown climbed the charts and Helen and Jim went on tour together and made TV appearances as well. She released a solo single in 1978 and it reached No. 30 on the music charts. Her string of hits with Brown continued on into the early 1980s with their last duet, Don't Bother To Knock, reaching No. 13.

Helen decided to leave her duet partnership with Brown (some say she was fired) because she felt she was losing her own identity as a singer and she wanted to make a name for herself as a solo artist. She continue to record and in 1983, she took a bit of a career detour to become spokesperson for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In 1985, she changed direction again when she joined to road show revival of the classic Annie Get Your Gun. (1)

Helen is still active in the music business.

References:

(1) "No More Nightmares for Helen Cornelius." The Nashua Telegraph 2 Dec. 1983: 33. Print.

Bobbie Cryner

1993 Promotional Postcard pose
1993 Promotional Postcard pose

Bobbie Cryner, born Phyllis "Bobbie" Cryner on September 13, 1961 was one of the most promising and talented new singers to hit the country music scene in 1993. Her music had a very traditional sound to it, but for some reason, possibly because she was a woman who sounded "too rural" and "too different" for the urban oriented audiences and it was largely unnoticed.

Bobby grew up listening to the likes of Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, George Jones and cited their music influenced her greatly not just in her singing but with her song writing as well. She also had an innate desire to to learn about the human condition and how things worked and fit together. She had an interest in evangelical religion and joined, at age ten, a very strict fundamental Pentecostal church and her views on religion remained fairly consistent throughout her teen years. It wasn't until she hit her twenties that it dawned on her that "religion prepares you for death, while spirituality prepares you for life"... and she decided to focus on life. This curiosity and answer seeking gave her her unique view which showed in her songwriting skills.

In the mid 80's she met songwriter Max D. Barnes who liked Bobbie's material. It was at his encouragement that in 1988, she moved to Nashville where she co wrote a few songs with him. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to happen music wise but then her luck changed about three years later when she met a man named Carl Jackson who heard her perform some of her songs. He liked what he heard and through some of his personal contacts, Bobbie was offered a contract with Epic Records.

In 1993 she released a self titled album on Epic Records that produced three singles, Daddy Laid the Blues on Me which hit the charts in June of 1993 and peaked at No. 63 on the music charts. Her next single, He Feels Guilty to Me, also from 1993 peaked at No. 68 and finally in and You Could Steal Me from 1994 peaked at No. 72.

In 1995, she released her second album, The Girl of Your Dreams, on MCA Nashville Records. She released two songs: I Just Can't Stand to Be Unhappy which peaked at No. 63, You'd Think He'd Know Me Better which peaked at No. 56 and I Didn't Know My Own Strength which failed to chart.

Bobbie is still active as a songwriter and singer.

Terri Gibbs

Terri was born on June 15, 1954 in Miami Florida, but raised in Augusta Georgia.

Blind since birth, music played a big part of her childhood having learned to play the piano at age three. She loved listening to gospel music, as well as rock and roll and pop, and soul. Whenever possible she sang in choirs as well as talent contests and after one such contest she met Chet Atkins who gave her advice to head to Nashville to try her luck. At first she had no luck securing a record contract so she moved to Miami and joined the band Sound Dimension as the keyboardist. She quit the band in 1973 and enrolled in college, but she left school after a year to focus her attention of songwriting. In 1975, she moved back to Georgia and formed her own band. In 1980, she was signed MCA Records after producer and songwriter ED Penney heard one of her demo tapes.

In 1981, the title cut of her debut album, Somebody's Knockin' was a Top Ten country hit and crossover pop hit. Her next single Rich Man made the Top 20 and American Country Music Association named her the Best New Female Vocalist. She also won the CMA's Horizon Award. Terri charted with two more albums (1981 I'm a Lady and 1983 Over Easy) neither of these two came close to the success of her first album. In 1982 she had a Top 20 hit with Ashes to Ashes and in 1983, another Top 20 hit with Anybody Else's Heart But Mine.

She toured with George Jones in 1981-82 and often would duet with him on stage. She then took time off from recording and switch to performing gospel music and in 1987, she released the Grammy nominated gospel album Turn Around.

She retired from the entertainment industry in 1990.

Gus Hardin: Singers Career Cut Short by Car Accident

Gus had a very distinctive voice and never had the chance to see what she could achieve in the music business. She was killed in a car accident at age 50 on February 17, 1996.

There isn't a lot of information available on Gus who was born Carolyn Ann Blankenship on April 9. 1945. She picked up the nickname "Gus" while in her teen years. She had a originally intended to be a teacher, but her love of music derailed that plan. Some biographies state that she had been married six times, and it was her third husband, Steve Hardin, whose last name she kept as her stage name.

In the early 1980s, she signed with RCA Records. Her first album release produced three Top Forty hits, with After the Last Goodbye being the most successful, reaching No. 10 on the country charts. She was named by the Academy of Country Music as Best New Female Vocalist in 1984. She would make the country charts a few more times and her biggest single was a duet with country singer Earl Thomas Conley, together they took All Tangled Up in Love, in 1985 to the number 8 spot on the country charts.

All together, she made the charts 10 times and she recorded three albums over a two year period with RCA with a total of 25 songs to her credit.

LaCosta Tucker Soundalike Sister of Tanya Tucker

The sound a like older sister of country music star Tanya Tucker. In her early years she sang with her sister Tanya in the group Country Westerners and when she graduated from college she found a job as a medical records technician and sang in clubs when she could find the time.

In 1974, about a year after Tanya began her music career, and with the help of her father Beau, she got a recording contract with Capitol Records and released her first single, I Wanna Get to You, which made it to No. 25 on the country charts. Her next single, Get on My Love Train went to No. 3 and would be the biggest hit of her career.

Between 1974 and 1982, she would put a total of fourteen songs on the country charts.

But sadly, what turned out as a promising career, seemed to stall when sister, Tanya became a star. It seemed listening audiences weren't interested in her music perhaps because she sounded too much like her little sister?

Louise Mandrell

I'm Not Through Love You Yet 1983 album
I'm Not Through Love You Yet 1983 album

Thelma Louise Mandrell was born on July 13, 1954 and is the younger sister of legendary country singer Barbara Mandrell. When she was 15 years old, she joined Barbara's touring show. In 1974, she left the show and first joined Stu Phillip's band and then found herself singing back up for Merle Haggard who would give her solo time on his tours.

She signed with Epic Records and had a series of minor hits, including a few duets with her then husband, singer, songwriter R.C. Bannon. In 1974, she moved to RCA records where she had a series of minor hits.

In 1982, she scored her first Top 20 hit with Some of My Best Friends Are Old Songs. It was during this time that she was also co starring on The Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters show which gave her great exposure. The show was very popular and lasted for two seasons.

Save Me, was her first Top Ten hit in 1983. It was followed by three more hit songs :Too Hot to Sleep, Runaway Heart, and I'm Not Through Lovin You Yet. Her last Top 10 hit was I Wanna Say Yes in 1985.

In 1988, she would have her last chart single, a duet with Eric Carmen As Long as We Got Each Other.

Judy Rodman

Judy Rodman was born May 23, 1951. She began singing at age four and mastered playing the guitar by age eight. Her father was a part time musician and Judy sometimes found herself singing with his band. During her childhood, the family moved multiple times and this allowed her to gain exposure and appreciation for different forms of music. By the time she was 17 years old, she was singing jingles for television commercials. At age 18, she enrolled in college to study music and her roommate was future 80s country star, Janie Frickie. The two became good friends and together they got jobs singing commercial jingles through the Tanner Agency in Memphis.

After marrying John Rodman, the couple decided to move to Nashville in 1980 where she continued with her career of singing commercial jingles, but soon she decided that she would try to change the direction of her career and give country music a try. She was able to secure a contract with MTM Records and her debut single in 1985 I've Been Had By Love Before. Several other singles followed, You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone, and I Sure Need Your Lovin.

Her biggest chart success came when she scored a No. 1 hit with Until I Met You. Her follow up singles did well, but did not match the popularity of her No 1 hit. She charted six more times with her last being in 1988 with the song I Can Love You which didn't make it into the Top 40.

But, even though Judy's chart career end in 1988, she has worn a variety of titles since then, not only does she still write songs, but she is an vocal coach, a producer, a public speaker and more.

Marsha Thornton Country and Gospel Singer

Marsha came from a musical family and by the time she was eight years old, she was already playing the mandolin and singing before huge crowds. When she was sixteen years old, she was a featured performer in Country Music, USA at the Nashville theme park, Opryland, USA.

In 1989, she was part of the wave of Neo traditionalist female singers to hit Nashville and it wasn't long until she had secured a contract with MCA Records and through them she released two CD's both produced by legendary music producer Owen Bradley. Her first single, Deep Water off of her self titled debut album was a minor hit peaking at No. 62 on the Hot 100 chart. Her next release, in 1990 A Bottle of Wine and Patsy Cline ss her best remembered song. Two more songs; The Grass is Greener in 1990 failed to chart and her final single in 1991 Maybe the Moon Will Shine did make it into the Top 100.

She left MCA Records in 1995 and continued singing and doing commercial jingles. In 2003 she released Farther Along: Acappella Hymns of Farewell.

Shelly West Daughter of Country Music Legend Dottie West

Cover of Shelly West's Red Hot Album
Cover of Shelly West's Red Hot Album

Shelly, born May 23, 1958 is the daughter of the late country legend Dottie West and her husband Bill, and was a popular singer during the 1980s.

She began her singing career at age 17 when she toured with her mother singing backup and then eventually getting the chance to take lead vocal chores. She fell in love with guitarist Allen Frizzle,(little brother to Lefty and David Frizzel) and together they left Dottie's band in 1977 and went to California. There they joined David's band and stayed for a few months.Eventually David began to look for a recording deal and when Snuff Garret, a record producer for Casablanca, heard Shelly and David's demo recording of Lovin on Borrowed Time, he signed them. But, when Polygram took over the record label they were dropped. Garrett continued to feel that the duo had talent and played their song You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma for Clint Eastwood who had just started up his own record label. Eastwood liked the song and added it to the soundtrack for his film Any Which Way You Can and the song was released as a single and hit the top of the country charts in 1981.

Their next four songs were successful and the duo kept recording through 1985 when they split. While it was said that the official reason was that they couldn't find quality material, it is thought by some that it was the fact that West and her hubby Allen had divorced. In 1983, Shelly released a solo effort and had a hit with Jose Cuervo which went to the top of the country charts. Her next song, Flight 309 to Tennessee made the Top Five and between 1984-85 she had a series of hit songs; Somebody Buy This Cowgirl a Beer, Don't Make Me Wait on the Moon and Love Don't Come Any Better Than This.

Shelly faded from the music charts and stopped recording after marrying Gary Hood. But she does continue to make sporadic appearances with some of her most recent appearances in Branson, Missouri.

© 2015 Glory Miller

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