Sara Evans voiced strong feelings about the state of country radio in a new tweet, saying she was “devastated” at what had become of the genre she had called home for more than two decades.
Evans’ first Number One, 1998’s “No Place That Far,” situated her right at a moment in country-music history when there were numerous women on the radio at any given point, including Faith Hill, Reba McEntire and Shania Twain. But that share of the airwaves has declined significantly in the 2000s, particularly since 2010 — when Evans scored her most recent Number One with “A Little Bit Stronger.”
“The obvious and most maddening change to me has been the blatant stonewalling of female artists,” wrote Evans on Twitter. “One day I’m a country artist with hits on country radio and the next, I can’t even get one spin on ANY of my new music.”
— Sara Evans (@saraevansmusic) October 25, 2018
Evans’ tweet was in response to comments she made on the red carpet at CMT’s all-women Artists of the Year event, telling Billboard that it had been extremely difficult “for my family to watch me sobbing at home because [radio] refused to play the single I released when I’ve worked my ass off and gone to visit every country programmer in America.”
In July 2017, Evans released the album Words, a sharp collection of tunes with credits including Hillary Lindsey and Ashley Monroe — prior to the release, Evans made a point of discussing how the bulk of the songs had at least one female composer. It was her first independently released album, following 20 years of recording for RCA Nashville and five Billboard Number One hits. “Marquee Sign,” the brooding, smoky lead single from Words, failed to chart for the first time in Evans’ career.
In her tweet, Evans also decried the “lack of creativity and lyrical sophistication” on the radio, evidence of a shift toward more youthful, party-oriented themes that favored male performers. “Country music used to be known for its amazingly true to life, heartfelt lyrics.”
As such, Evans isn’t really sure where her music belongs at this point. Recent months have seen her reaching out to other styles, issuing a series of remixes of “Marquee Sign” that reimagined the song as a club banger or as a groove-forward funk/R&B number.
Since the “Tomatogate” controversy in 2015, the presence of women on country radio has continued to dwindle. In 2018, only two women — Maren Morris and Kelsea Ballerini — have reached Number One, and only a few more have even charted. It’s an entirely different landscape from when Evans first made her mark, and she doesn’t like what she sees. “It’s time for a change,” she said.