This article explores the ways in which sentimentality, self-reflexivity, and identity intersect with the rural settings of Dolly Parton’s concept album My Tennessee Mountain Home (1973) and June Carter Cash’s pivotal solo work Appalachian Pride (1975). The works of pioneering country music artists Carter Cash and Parton illustrate a recurrent tension within the genre, representing a reconciliation between the traditional lyrical and sonic identifiers of country music and the increasingly modern approach of the wider popular music industry. The creation of emotive and personal musical works, notably at the height of Carter Cash’s and Parton’s respective careers within the mainstream country music industry, enables a presentation of their experiences as both dichotomously aligned with the conventions of rural music of the United States and distinct from the mythology surrounding the Appalachia region and constructions of Southern femininities. Further showcasing the societal and cultural practices that evolved within Appalachian communities, specifically the complex roles and creative pursuits undertaken by female-identifying members, June Carter Cash and Dolly Parton combined their rural Southern upbringings with universal experiences of love and loss.

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