Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn & More 'Iconic Women of Country Music' to Be Celebrated in PBS Program

Dolly Parton
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Dolly Parton attends Stella Parton's Red Tent Women's Conference 2014 at the Doubletree Hotel Downtown on April 18, 2014 in Nashville, Tenn.

The influence of Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline and Barbara Mandrell gets a fresh examination with a new program, Iconic Women of Country Music, that will debut June 1 on PBS stations, Billboard has learned.

The production uses original interviews, archival footage and classic songs to explore how a small parade of females fought gender bias across several decades to create some of the genre’s most significant recordings, including Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man,” Kitty Wells’ “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” and Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley P.T.A.”

The project, co-produced by Transform Films and TH Entertainment, includes appearances by Connie Smith, Terri Clark, Pam Tillis and Trisha Yearwood, among others.

“It has been such an honor to be able to pay tribute to these women,” said TH Entertainment producer/vp Barb Hall in a statement. “Their music gave a voice to women’s life experiences, and as much as I love their music, their stories are such a source of inspiration.”

Hall’s “expertise and passion have resulted in a special that will appeal to music fans of all kinds,” added Transform president/CEO Nick Stuart.

Iconic Women arrives after a period of several years when female voices were underrepresented on country radio, with some weeks in which there were no women in the top 20 on the Country Airplay chart. The atmosphere has loosened in recent months; the May 30 list features five female acts in the top 20.

“There couldn’t be a more important time to spotlight the iconic women of country music than now,” said Universal Music Group Nashville president Cindy Mabe. “Their influence and stories of overcoming continue to impact, support and build the next generation of country music.”

UMGN is offering a bundle for purchase during the PBS airings that features a DVD with additional exclusive features, plus a CD and a poster created by Hatch Show Print.

Transform specializes in nonfiction films, including Serving Life, a prison documentary commissioned by Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Documentary Club, and Newtown, a Peabody Award winner for best documentary. TH Entertainment, which has offices in Nashville and Toronto, has developed a range of documentaries, including the country-targeted titles Charley Pride: I’m Just Me and Waylon: The Outlaw Performance.