Today, I’m going to depart from my typical type of post and focus on gender equality in country music. If you weren’t aware, there is a startling lack of women in country music these days. This topic might seem like quite the topic stretch for me if you only know me from reading my blog. However, I hope you will bear with me for a minute while I talk about a topic that has been bothering me for years. Before I dive in, I wanted to provide a bit of background on what music means to me.
Music has always been a huge part of my life (remember how hard I fangirled over Farm Aid being in Virginia?). Growing up, I listened mainly to country music as that was the radio station with the best reception back home. I took piano lessons, clarinet lessons, and sang in my school choir. While I participated in those activities, I was never more than an average musician. Even though my playing and singing skills are limited, I have and continue to fully embrace music in my daily life.
These days, country music is a staple on my morning drive (shout-out to the Bobby Bones Show). On my drive home, I listen to country music-focused podcasts (The Bobbycast and Walking the Floor). What I love about these two podcasts is that their focus is on the stories and people behind country music. Additionally, they both feature non-mainstream artists frequently. While I listen to mainstream country music at times, I spend most of my time listening to alternative or traditional country. For me, it’s all about the story, emotion, and musicianship, not age, gender, or frequency of radio-play.
Seriously, where are the women in country music?
One day while listening to the nationally syndicated Bobby Bones Show a year or so ago, Bobby made a comment about the lack of women in country music radio. I sat there for a minute while they were on commercial break and tried to recall women who had songs out on country radio at the time. I struggled to name more than two. As his morning show is more talk and less music in my area, I forced myself to listen to the station on my drives home for the next week or so. I was surprised by how few women were on the radio. Bobby wasn’t the only industry outsider to address the lack of women in country music. The Atlantic, Forbes, and Rolling Stone have all written about the gender divide.
For context, this was also in the middle of the “bro-country” movement. There were songs about women… just not (m)any women singing them. To be completely honest, I did enjoy some of the bro-country music. It was fun to dance to and was great for the occasional listen to on long road trip. However, it wasn’t what I would listen to on my own time. While I can’t stand here and say that the bro-country movement was the cause of few women on country radio, it certainly didn’t help the issue.I can say that I believe it was a major factor in the disappearance of women in country music. We’ve all heard about the bro-country movement and while I won’t bash what so many people like, it also really wasn’t what I wanted to listen to daily.
Today, I took a look at the Billboard Country Airplay Chart today and there is not a single woman in the Top 10. In fact, there are only 7 (SEVEN!) women in the Top 60. The last time there was gender equality on country radio was in the 1990s1. I’ve noticed similar inequality in the Canadian and Texas Country charts as well. We can’t keep letting the industry shutout women.
National Download A Female Friday
Last week, Lindsey Ell had a radio performance canceled because of her personal life. Yup, you read that right. Apparently, because she dates a radio DJ (Bobby Bones) for a competitive radio network, they dropped her. As many people have pointed out, this would NEVER have happened if she was a male country artist. Country music radio programmers are notorious of their dislike and blocking of female country artists and this is just the most recent example. While many artists would have let it be, Lindsey addressed it publicly and the story was pickup up nationally, including the Washington Post.
We’ve all had enough with the inequality in country music. Early this week, Bobby Bones declared that this Friday would be “National Download a Female Friday”. He encouraged his listeners to show support of country music female artists by purchasing their music. In a day and age when everyone streams music, Bobby frequently encourages listens with the phrase “If you like it, buy it”. Requesting songs and streaming only go so far these days. The most direct impact listeners can have on country music is via our pocketbook. Hence, the “download” call to action.
Recommended Women in Country Music to Download on Friday
Below are my recommendations for female artists to download this Friday:
On the Charts – Top 30
These women (as individuals, duos, or in a group) have reached the Top 30 on the Billboard Country Airplay Charts to date in 2017. SIDEBAR: How ridiculous is it there these are the ONLY women who have charted in the Top 30 in 2017!?
- Carrie Underwood // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Lauren Alaina // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Kelsea Ballerini // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Maren Morris // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Rhiannon Giddens // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Faith Hill // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Karen Fairchild & Kimberly Schlapman of Little Big Town // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Carly Pearce // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Miranda Lambert // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- RaeLynn // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Runaway June // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
These Amazing Female Artists Need Some Love Too
The following women have not charted in 2017, but are amazing and are very worthy of your downloads.
- Cam // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Lindsay Ell // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Lucie Silvas // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Margo Price // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Lori McKenna // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Holly Williams // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Brandi Carlile // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Caitlyn Smith // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Natalie Hemby // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Aubrie Sellers // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Brandy Clark // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Ashley Monroe // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Bailey Bryan // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Kelleigh Bannen // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Mickey Guyton // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Kacey Musgraves // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Madeline Merlo // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Jess Moskaluke // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Trisha Yearwood // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Nikita Karmen // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
- Natalie Stovall // iTunes – Amazon (affiliate)
Women in Country Spotify Playlist
The following is a playlist I have put together of the ladies listed above as well as other female country musicians.
Do you have a favorite female country music artist that didn’t make my lists? Leave their name in the comments below so that I can check them out!