For all the discussion surrounding Keith Urban’s “Female” – whether it does too much, says too little, uses the wrong pronouns – one thing it has done is help keep afloat the conversation about the never-ending gender imbalance in country music.
Song Suffragettes, a women-only showcase in Nashville dedicated to leveling the playing field – their motto is “let the girls play” – are even better equipped than Urban himself to tackle this topic, so they’ve recorded their own version of the song. Arranged by Rolling Stone Country Artist You Need to Know Kalie Shorr and also featuring Suffragettes Lacy Cavalier, Lena Stone and others, the cover, released today as a video, works to drive awareness to LiveYourDream.org, an organization dedicated to empowering girls and helping eradicate violence against women.
“When I heard [‘Female’] I immediately connected to it,” says Shorr. “I’ve always loved Keith Urban but his decision to record this song and use his platform to stand in solidarity with women made me admire him even more. I chatted with the Song Suffragettes girls and we thought it would be really cool and special to put our voices on it. The production team behind Song Suffragettes had an amazing idea to use to use it to back a female-focused charity, and our cover of ‘Female’ was born.”
Shorr, who released her own empowering anthem “Two Hands” in October, about the importance of finding a romantic partner who accepts a person for their flaws and embraces, not squashes, their power, is no stranger to releasing laser-fast covers of new singles: only 12 hours after Taylor Swift debuted “Look What You Made Me Do,” Shorr offered her own moody acoustic take. It was a move that inspired her performance last week at CMT’s Next Women of Country, where she opened the showcase with the song alongside Lindsay Ell and Kelleigh Bannen, and turned it into a sly kiss-off to a country radio climate that doesn’t treat women artists as equals to their male counterparts.
Song Suffragettes, a weekly showcase at Nashville’s Listening Room Cafe, has given a platform to artists like RaeLynn and Carly Pearce – the latter of whom just saw her debut single “Every Little Thing” go to the top of Billboard’s country airplay chart. Notably, it’s only one of two songs by women to do so for the entire year of 2017.