Despite steps forward to level the playing field by CMT, AppleMusic, and the Change the Conversation org, gender imbalance in country music remains a problem. It’s even caught the eye of Samantha Bee, who devoted an entire segment to Nashville’s lack of women on country radio on this week’s Full Frontal With Samantha Bee.
In just seven minutes, comic correspondents Sasheer Zamata and Amy Hoggart, on the ground in Nashville, break the balls of the industry not just with wisecracks, but with actual facts. Since 2000, there’s been a 66% decline in songs by women artists on country radio, they point out, citing Dr. Jada E. Watson’s “Gender Representation on Country Format Radio” study.
They also talk to artists Brandi Carlile, Tanya Tucker, Mickey Guyton, and Margo Price (who performs her new song “Stone Me”) and CMT exec Leslie Fram, who stuns Zamata and Hoggart by explaining the role of country radio in the genre. “Why is radio still a big deal in country? Do you guys still use rotary phones?” asks Hoggart.
Guyton also raised the issue of race in country music and how that dovetails with the lack of women being played. “Black people love country music, and there are so many people that look like me that love country music and that’s what I’m here to do,” said Guyton, who tweeted her frustration with the issue earlier this week.
In the end, Zamata and Hoggart commit themselves to finding a phrase that women in country music to rally behind — but “Twang’s Up” is the best they can do.
“Ask yourself this question, what do you want your daughter to know about herself?” says Carlile. “And if you can’t get that from country music or you can’t get that from country radio, it’s a problem.”