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One of the most popular female singers of the new traditionalist movement, Patty Loveless rose to stardom thanks to her blend of honky tonk and country-rock, not to mention a plaintive, emotional ballad style. Her late-’80s records for MCA were generally quite popular, earning her comparisons to Patsy Cline, but most critics agreed that she truly came into her own as an artist when she moved to Epic in the early ’90s.

Loveless released her first chart single, “Lonely Days, Lonely Nights,” and her self-titled debut album in 1986. She enjoyed some modest success, but didn’t really make a splash until the 1988 follow-up, If My Heart Had Windows, which gave her two Top Ten hits in the title cut (originally recorded by George Jones) and Steve Earle’s “A Little Bit of Love.” Late in 1988, she released the follow-up album that made her a star, Honky Tonk Angel. “Timber, I’m Falling in Love” became her first number one hit in 1989, and three more singles — “Blue Side of Town,” “Don’t Toss Us Away,” and “The Lonely Side of Love” — reached the Top Ten before year’s end, by which time Loveless had married producer Gordy. In 1990, the album’s fifth single, “Chains,” became her second number one. Her next album, On Down the Line, came out later that year and brought her two Top Five hits in the title cut and “I’m That Kind of Girl.” Following 1991′s Up Against My Heart and its Top Five hit “Hurt Me Bad (In a Real Good Way),” Loveless made some major changes in her career. She parted ways with her brother as manager and switched labels to Epic, taking husband Gordy with her as producer; moreover, she was forced to undergo throat surgery to repair her vocal cords before she was able to complete her label debut.

Only What I Feel was released in early 1993 and earned Loveless the best reviews of her career to date, thanks to a newfound level of confidence. The number one smash “Blame It on Your Heart” helped the record go platinum, and “How Can I Help You Say Goodbye?” and “You Will” also went Top Ten. The following year’s When Fallen Angels Fly won equal acclaim, not to mention the CMA’s Album of the Year Award; it spun off four Top Ten hits in “I Try to Think About Elvis,” “Halfway Down,” “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am,” and “Here I Am.” Released in 1996, The Trouble with the Truth continued Loveless’ renaissance with two more number one smashes, “You Can Feel Bad (If It Makes You Feel Better)” and “Lonely Too Long,” and the Top Five “She Drew a Broken Heart”; that year, she won the ACM’s Female Vocalist of the Year Award.

Take a listen to “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am,” the award winning hit from 1994.

Other talented ladies who paved the way to make country music what it is today 👇