CMT is going on a ladies-only road trip, with Jana Kramer and Kelsea Ballerini in the driver’s seat. The CMT Next Women of Country Tour kicks off April 30th in Kramer’s home state of Michigan, hitting 10 cities on the month-long trek. Though the country music television network has sponsored tours for several years, this is the first time its traveling bill is female-dominated.
“I’m a big advocate for us girls sticking together and encouraging each other,” says Kramer.
“I love CMT,” Ballerini tells Rolling Stone Country. “[SVP of Music Strategy ] Leslie Fram is such a spearhead for women, to be under her wing is an amazing thing. “
Fram indeed spearheaded CMT’s “Next Women” campaign, which began in 2013 as a way to close the growing gender gap in country music by giving rising female artists more air time. Its inaugural honorees were Kramer, Ashley Monroe, Holly Williams, Kacey Musgraves, Cassadee Pope, Brandy Clark, Lauren Alaina, Sarah Darling, Rose Falcon, Rachel Farley and Kelleigh Bannen. In 2014, singer-songwriters invited to the roster included Ballerini, Mickey Guyton, RaeLynn, Maddie and Tae, Lucy Hale, Lindsay Ell, Nikki Lane, Angaleena Presley and Natalie Stovall and the Drive.
“Women are the cornerstone of country music,” Fram said upon the “Next Women” launch. “We want to recognize, support and expose the next wave of authentic female artists, signed or independent, who are writing, recording and making it happen on their own in a crowded, male-dominated format.”
Kramer and Ballerini will co-headline the tour, with tickets going on sale this Friday, April 10th. Both are holding their own with the guys right now on the country charts, with “I Got the Boy” and “Love Me Like You Mean It,” respectively. Ballerini’s debut single is also her first Top 20 hit.
CMT Next Women of Country Tour Dates:
April 30th — Grand Rapids, Michigan, The Intersection
May 1st — Cincinnati, Ohio, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill
May 7th — Cleveland, Ohio, House of Blues
May 8th — Chicago, Joe’s Sports Bar
May 10th — St. Louis, The Pageant
May 12th — Nashville, 3rd and Lindsley**
May 14th — Orlando, Florida, Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill
May 15th — Fort Walton Beach, Florida, The Swamp
May 17th — Charlotte, North Carolina, The Fillmore Charlotte
May 28th — Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, House of Blues
**Kelsea Ballerini only, featuring special guests from CMT Next Women of Country