In honor of Pride Month this year, The Nash News is highlighting six iconic queer country artists through the decades.
1. Wilma Burgess
Wilma Burgess was a country singer who rose to fame during the 1960s. Her cover of Bob Montgomery’s “Misty Blue” (1966) brought her talent to the foreground, where she then
solidified her fame with charted singles such as “Don’t Touch Me” (1966). The work of Burgess is unique as she specifically put an ambiguous twist on the songs, providing gender-neutral pronouns rather than directly referring to a man. In later years, she would withdraw from the music industry and go on to open and run Nashville’s first “women-only” bar in the late 1980s, titled The Hitchin’ Post.
2. Lavender Country
The rambunctious band of queer folk, Lavender Country, led by singer and guitarist Patrick
Haggerty debuted during the early 1970s. As a gay man, Haggerty felt inclined to become involved in the gay rights movement and invited peers to collaborate on a gay-themed country album. In 1973 their album was released under the self-titled name Lavender Country. Haggerty reclaimed the term ‘lavender,’ which was often used throughout history to represent queer people. In early 2022, almost 50 years after their debut, Lavender Country would rejoin for their second album, Blackberry Rose, which features a return to some of their classic work in addition to new music.
3. k.d. lang
This Canadian artist was a pioneer in alternative-country music. From the beginning of her music career, lang strived to be outside the norm in musical style and appearance. lang would often perform in an androgynous-styled fashion, standing out from the other female country artists. The charismatic and campy artist rose to fame during the 1980s and had great success with her first two albums, A Truly Western Experience (1984) and Angel With a Lariat (1987). In 1988 she would collaborate with iconic female country artists Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, and Kitty Wells for her single, “Honkey Tonk Angels’ Medley.” The experimental artist has collected multiple Grammys and other high honors. Through the years, lang has maintained her iconic country spark and continues to create new music.
4. Karen & the Sorrows
This group of queer folks arrived on the music scene during the 2010s with their first album,
The Names of Things (2014). Their third and most recent album, Guaranteed Broken Heart