With more than a dozen Number One singles on the country charts, Carrie Underwood is not only one of the genre’s most successful and regularly played artists, but one of country radio’s most-played female acts in a genre that has increasingly come under fire for a lack of gender equality. In 2017, according to The Tennessean, just 10.4 percent of the songs that received country radio airplay (not including duets with men) were by female artists. That’s a drop of almost three percent from 2016’s 13 percent tally.
Elaina Smith, host of the Nash Country Daily podcast, Women Want to Hear Women, tackles head-on the notion that female radio listeners only want to tune in for male country artists, and recently sat down with Underwood, who shared her own thoughts on the topic.
In the interview, Underwood noted that the time had come for “shutting that door on ‘women don’t want to hear women’ because that’s BS. Even when I was growing up I wished there was more women on the radio. And I had a lot more than there are today. Think about all of the little girls that are sitting at home saying, ‘I want to be a country music singer.’ What do you tell them? What do you do? How do you look at them and say, ‘Well, just work hard, sweetie, and you can do it.’ When that’s… not the case right now. ‘Cause I see so many girls out there bustin’ their rear ends and so many guys out there that it’s some new guy out there has a Number One, and I’m like, ‘Good for you, that’s great, but who are you?'”
Underwood’s Cry Pretty Tour will launch in May 2019 with Maddie and Tae and Runaway June as special guests, but rather than doing the two up-and-coming acts a favor, she sees their participation as well-earned.
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“I’m not throwing anybody a bone by taking them out on tour with me,” she says. “They deserve to be there and they’re gonna put on a really great show. I’m already proud of all that they’ve done. I’m a fan. It’s good when women support women. I think we’ve done more than that. One of the good things that has come out of these conversations has been the rallying that we’ve had for each other, behind each other. We all need more of that in our lives.”
In the full-length version of the conversation, Underwood also touches on the perceptions of being an assertive woman in charge, which doesn’t equate to the absence of niceness.
“I think you can be nice and still tell people what you want,” she reasons. “When it’s your project, when you’re in charge of something, when you have a job to do and other people doing their jobs reflects on you being able to do yours, I feel like you can say things in a way that will be respected, but also can be authoritative without being the ‘B’ word. But, you know what? Who cares? Who cares if somebody thinks you are? If you’re getting the job done, that’s what matters in the end.”
Other participants in Smith’s Women Want to Hear Women podcasts have included Dolly Parton, Kacey Musgraves and Carly Pearce.