No. 21: Crystal Gayle – Country’s Most Powerful Women of All Time
Before there was Carrie Underwood, there was Crystal Gayle. The pop-country singer became one of country music's first huge crossover artists, and her role in paving the way for other country females lands her at No. 21 on Taste of Country's list of Country Music's Most Powerful Women of All Time.
Gayle was born Brenda Gail Webb, and she's the younger sister of country music icon Loretta Lynn, who will make an appearance later on in this list. When she decided to follow her sister into country music she changed her name to avoid confusion with Brenda Lee, and her earliest records in the early 1970s were unsuccessful as her record label tried to force her into recording material that sounded like her famous sibling.
Gayle found her own musical footing with the release of Crystal Gayle in 1974, scoring a No. 6 hit with "Wrong Road Again." She went on to a long career that saw her charting songs well into the '80s across country, pop and adult contemporary, launching her as one of country music's first real multi-genre female successes. Gayle reached the pinnacle of that success with "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" in 1977, which spent four weeks at No. 1 and drove her We Must Believe in Magic album to sell more than a million copies, making Gayle the first Platinum-certified female artist in country music history.
Gayle has scored 16 No. 1 country hits including "Why Have You Left the One You Left Me For," "Our Love Is on the Faultline," "Turning Away" and "Straight to the Heart," which gave the singer her final No. 1 single in 1986. She continued to chart through the end of the '80s, but by the early '90s her long chart run was essentially over.
The singer's success across genres and the fact that her vocal style is much more cosmopolitan eventually allowed her to overcome the fact that Lynn is her sister, and she eclipsed her commercially in all genres other than country. Gayle also won a Grammy for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," and she's won ACM Awards and American Music Awards, as well as reigning as the CMA's Female Vocalist of the Year twice. She's a Grand Ole Opry member and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, cementing her place as one of country's most powerful women of all time.
Female Trailblazers Who Are Changing Modern Country Music
Watch: Country Women Well-Represented in 2017 Taste of Country RISERS