Thursday, March 31, 2016

Women of Country Party for a Cause at ACM Awards Festival

Sometimes when Carrie Underwood steps out onto the stage at a country music festival, she might be the sole female artist to perform.
"You're at a festival and they will talk about potentially having another woman on there and then they are like, 'No, no, we already have one. We can't have two,'" Underwood recalled. "I don't understand that mentality."
Women have been struggling to get heard on country radio since the bro-country movement took over, but that has also had ramifications for female artists trying to get exposure through major tours or country music festivals. So when the Academy of Country Music asked Underwood to headline the first night of their Party for a Cause festival in Las Vegas ahead of their 51st ACM Awards, she said she'd do it only if she could pick an all-female lineup.
"Why not just ask women? Why not have a whole night that is just all strong, amazing women kicking butt onstage and entertaining and having fun?" Underwood said.
The Women of Country Night Friday will include Underwood, Martina McBride, Kelsea Ballerini, Maddie and Tae, Kellie Pickler and Cam on the main stage and more new female artists on a side stage. Across the three-night festival there will be 13 female artists or groups performing out of the total 32 acts.
Underwood, who has sold out all of her American stops along her current Storyteller tour, has been known for her high energy, exciting concerts such as her 2012 Blown Away tour. But the seven-time Grammy winner said even with her decade of success, she has had to fight for headlining spots alongside the male artists.
"I have been at places where they wanted me to play before a guy, just because it was a guy," Underwood said. "Someone who hasn't necessarily sold as much or done as much or been around as long. And I am like, 'No!' It has nothing to do with ego. It just makes no sense to me."
ACM CEO Bob Romeo said the all-female lineup was a perfect fit with the nominations at Sunday's awards show. Cam is up for six awards, including for her Grammy-nominated hit "Burning House"; Ballerini has already won new female vocalist of the year and is also nominated for female vocalist of the year; and Maddie and Tae are also up for vocal duo of the year.
"It seems like for the first time in a lot of years the women are finally getting some due," he said.
Many new country music festivals have popped up in recent years leading to a saturation of the market, so a smart promoter would add diversity to draw the largest audience possible, said Gary Bongiovanni, president and editor-in-chief at Pollstar.
"It would be foolish to put an all-male lineup on if there's a significant demand for female artists and there certainly is," Bongiovanni said. "Why would you have a country music festival and not have Kacey Musgraves or Cam or any of the newer acts coming up?"
Erick Long, senior vice president of operations and events at ACM, said when Underwood proposed the all-female lineup, he admitted that the idea was highly marketable for the four-year-old festival to stand out among the crowded field of festival options. They are expecting about 22,000 people for this year's festival, an increase from the 14,000 that attended the last time the festival was held in Las Vegas in 2014.
"When Carrie said that, I was like that sets us apart from other festivals," said Long. "As the festival producer, I think everything on that stage should focus on empowering women and women of country music."
For Cam, the atmosphere behind the stage at a country music festival is pretty male-dominated. "All the musicians are dudes. All the crew are dudes. All the promoters are dudes," she said. "I feel like there is a comradery among women when you see them in music 'cause there aren't so many."
Like most new artists, whether male or female, Cam said she had to get a single on the radio before any promoter would consider her for a tour or a festival. But once "Burning House" started making waves at radio, she found that being one of the few successful female country singers made her a hot commodity. She was booked to open for Brad Paisley on his latest tour along with singer-songwriter Eric Paslay.
"So while I was out with them, I actually got to sing a lot of duets, because they both had duets in their sets with female parts and there's no girls anywhere to be found except for me," said Cam, ever an optimist. "So in that way, I feel like it's good to be the scarcity because I feel like you have a lot more opportunity."
Underwood said she's hopeful other festivals and tour promoters will take notice.
"I think it's going to be awesome," she said. "I think the crowd is going to love it and want more nights like that."
"Women of Country Party for a Cause at ACM Awards Festival in Las Vegas." - Berkshire Eagle Online. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <>.

The ACM Presenters and Performers

The ACM Awards are this weekend and everyone from Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert to Jana Kramer and Olivia Lane are going to be there. Once again the nominees for entertainer of the year consist of mostly men, with the exception of artist Miranda Lambert, but though the nominations may seem sexist the lineup of performers and presenters is sure an outstanding one.

Among the long list of performers are women of country artists Kelsea Ballerini, Cam, Carrie Underwood, Cassadee Pope, and a duet featuring Katy Perry and Dolly Parton. The original performers include leading nominee Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Brett Eldredge, Chris Young, Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett, Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line, and Keith Urban. Later artists Blake Shelton, Little Big Town, Old Dominion and Charles Kelley were added to the already jam packed lineup.

Presenters include Kacey Musgraves, Chris Janson, Cole Swindell, Jake Owen, Jana Kramer, Kip Moore, Martina McBride, Chase Rice, actor-turned-country singer Kiefer Sutherland, Entertainment Tonight‘s Nancy O’Dell and this year’s Miss America Betty Cantrell.

The 2016 ACM Awards, co-hosted by Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley, will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., on April 3, beginning at 8PM ET on CBS a must watch for all country music fans!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ten New Songs To Check Out This Week

Here Right Now -Danielle Marie
Whole Lotta Nothin' -Rachele Lynae
Something to Go On -Jillian Cardarelli
Ain't Your Girl -Ray Gibson
So You Like That -Lisa Nicole
Peter Pan -Kelsea Ballerini
Truck Candy -Abi Ann
Sugar High -Stephanie Quayle
Don't Fence Me In -Laura Ashley
Free From the Demon -Nikki Briar

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Oh China

Off on a school trip to China I will be without Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Google as well, but that will not stop me from sharing women of country news and more. So check into my Weebly page in the next week and I'll be back soon! Click Here

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


After hearing nearby classmates talking about their musical interests I was intrigued and made sure to listen in. Living in Portland Oregon I have found country music to be looked down upon and not a favorite among many of my peers and I began to wonder why. Knowing country music was loved by so many people across the country I was confused by the amount of people who seemed appalled at the mention of country music. With this in mind I took a poll in attempt to understand why people dislike the country music genre.

Though I agree with the opinion of some poll takers who believe country music is “all about guns, trucks, alcohol, and girls,” I know it’s so much more than that. Country music has a bad stereotype of being too discriminatory towards women or of having the sound of a banjo thus confusing country with the bluegrass genre. But there’s a different side of country so many are entirely unaware of. That’s where the storytelling comes in. Along with the amount of hours spent per day listening to music and whether you like country music or not, I asked all the poll takers to choose whether they like a song that tells a story or not. Though the majority (54.5%) of poll takers disliked country music, all but one poll taker chose yes when asked about liking a song which tells a story. This side of country music is found in the lyrics and songs of so many women of country artists as well as a few male artists. Take Hunter Hayes and his song “Invisible.” It’s not that we have to keep pushing new artists into the country music scene, well we do, but to really make a change beyond current country music fans, we have to change the way people view the country music genre itself.

I later continued to ask the poll takers to select the artists they have already heard of, listing women of country artists ranging from Carrie Underwood to Kalie Shorr and Kaitlyn Baker wondering if people who dislike country music had ever heard a country artist whose songs tell a story. Thanks to American Idol I found 95.5% of all poll takers had heard of artists Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, but beyond those two the turnout was lacking. Therefore I found that non country music listeners had no experience with country’s storytelling side and continue to base this genre we all love off songs such as Tom Hall’s “I Like Beer” or Luke Bryan’s “Rain is a Good Thing” encouraging the presence of alcohol.

With this I declare we make a change by sharing the storytelling side of country music with our peers unaware of the impact these songs may place upon their lives. So join me in sharing the music of your favorite women of country artists and make sure to use the hashtag #countrystorytelling for a chance to win a Jana Kramer exclusive album.

Click here to view the full poll results

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Ten New Songs to Check Out This Week

Enough -Sarahbeth Taite
Country Girl At Heart -Leanne Weiss 
Typical Cowboy -Maggie Baugh
Not Your Girl -Celeste Kellogg
I Love Your Truck -Alyssa Trahan
Whole Lot of Nothin' -Rachele Lynae
Every Little Girl's Dream -Leslie Powell
Tears In The Rain -Carrie Cunningham
Loving You Is Breaking Me -Joey Clarkson
Raging River -Kaitlyn Baker

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

So Why is There Still So Much Inequality? Feat. A Country Music Survey

So why is there still so much inequality?

Well that’s because, though improved, the ratio of women played on the radio to men is much less. Yes Carrie Underwood's song “Heartbeat” is played all the time, but you don’t hear more than ten different female artists on the radio over a few hours like you do men. Some say there aren’t enough out there or none “good enough,” but I know I can prove those people wrong. Many I’ve talked to are drawn away from country music, because of what some male artists have done to it. Those not familiar with the genre think of country music and they think of repetitive lyrics about nothing other than drinking, breakups, and driving on tractors. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but as all country music fans know country music is much more. Women are trying to change the way country music is perceived. They want to make an impact on their listeners. And are doing so by telling the sad, challenging, and exciting moments of their lives, turning each song into a story. By creating lyrics that portray everyday events while incorporating the instrumental sound of country music, these artists are giving everyone the chance to connect with their music, no matter the genre they prefer.

Next Women of Country and all of our followers have done so much already to change the ways of country music, but this year I propose that we redefine country music to ensure equality on the charts, on stage, and at the AMA’s.

Now I want to hear from you. Take this Survey and tell me about why you love country music to help me to promote women of country up and coming artists in the most effective way. Thanks! 

Join the cause today by following Next Women of Country on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and at

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Why Is There Still Discrimination Against Women In Country Music?

International Women’s Day occurs every year on March 8th spreading awareness to the struggles women face all across the globe. From something as simple of feminine hygiene to women in the workplace and their role in the music industry discrimination against women still continues today. So why is there still discrimination against women?

Stereotypes have played a huge role in the way we perceive women to be today. Women are supposed to be skinny and weak. Stay at home moms and drive a minivan, but we all know that’s not realistic. Women can accomplish the same as men, in fact women can do so much more. Women, unlike men, have fought for their rights and have been stronger than any man to stand up against the barriers placed against them. Men may be built to be physically stronger, but women have shown that they too are ready to rule the world.

Some of the most inspiring  artists in country music today are female — but you might not suspect that from listening to country radio.

It’s been the subject of much discussion both within and without the Nashville industry, with everyone from Billboard to NPR weighing in on the puzzling statistics. But there seems to be little more light at the end of the tunnel then there was a year ago today for female artists who are trying to compete with men at country radio.

Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift are among the only female artists who have scored major success at country radio recently, as the genre has become even more dominated by “bro country” artists like Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line.
Kacey Musgraves, Ashley Monroe and Brandy Clark released three of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2013, but only Musgraves has had a Top 10 hit, and she’s so far proven unable to follow it up. That didn’t stop her from winning an armload of awards for her major label debut, ‘Same Trailer Different Park,’ including a Grammy for Best Country Album.

"The country music business is almost entirely male-dominated, especially at a decision-making level. Most of the record label executives are men, and most of the radio program directors are men, too."

So if women are driving the marketplace in so many ways in terms of the quality of the work they are releasing, why are they not getting more airplay?

It’s a multi-faceted question, and the most obvious part of the equation may be as simple as this: the country music business is almost entirely male-dominated, especially at a decision-making level. Most of the record label executives are men, and most of the radio program directors are men, too.

That may seem to suggest an answer as simple as out-and-out sexism, but it’s much more complicated than that. The truth is that the demographic for country music is predominantly female, which leads many to argue that if radio played more female artists, it would appeal to women more.

But that’s not the thought process in the business. The prevailing argument in the industry appears to be, if we’re marketing primarily to women, then we need to be marketing male artists that they will find attractive and relatable. That’s part  — but only part — of the explanation behind the rise of artists like Bryan, Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and more.

The other, far more important part is — as always in the music business — money. The simple fact is, it’s not the job of radio to provide exposure for the highest-quality songs in the genre. It’s the job of country radio to draw as many listeners to their stations as possible, and keep them listening for as long as possible, so they can present bigger numbers to potential advertisers, which in turn means they can charge higher rates for ads. Higher ad rates mean more profit for the station, which is, after all, a for-profit business.

That works in concert with the record labels, who have to try to assess how best to market their artists in light of the current radio environment. Since commercial country radio is still the easiest way to mass market an artist, we’re seeing a trend now where artists are altering their approach to recording in response to trends at radio.

It’s always been that way, of course — go back and listen to any of your favorite albums from the ’80s and ’90s, and chances are they contain some production elements that sound dated now, but were part of an industry trend at the time of their release. But we’re also seeing this get tied in with touring, which has become an even more vital part of the overall bottom line for artists as song revenue has been dramatically impacted by illegal downloading.

As a result, we’re seeing more and more artists develop a career plan that emphasizes touring as much as possible in the biggest venues possible, which then forces them to craft songs that are designed for that environment. As more and more artists place greater emphasis on performing in arena-sized venues, there’s a definite shift toward writing and cutting songs that are intended specifically to play in arenas — a performing environment that doesn’t really lend itself to subtly nuanced, introspective ballads, for instance.

That may well be one reason why Swift, Lambert and Underwood are all doing so well when so many other female acts are not.

"There’s a definite shift toward writing and cutting songs that are intended specifically to play in arenas — a performing environment that doesn’t really lend itself to subtly nuanced, introspective ballads, for instance."

Swift’s recent Red Tour set a new record for the most successful country tour in history, and she has certainly shifted her focus in recent years to songs that can play in a bigger environment, which allows her to design spectacular live shows that are hugely entertaining visually, featuring special effects, dancers and even aerialists. Music is just one part of that equation, and there’s hardly any getting around the fact that it’s probably easier to get an arena full of people excited with material like ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ than with ‘White Horse’ or ‘Teardrops on My Guitar.’

Underwood is another performer who has placed increasing emphasis on visually stunning live shows, and has gradually changed her approach over time to record songs like ‘Blown Away’ that will come off better in larger venues. And while Lambert doesn’t go in for that high-tech approach to the same degree, she definitely leans toward more up-tempo songs, and performs them with a manic energy live that allows her to succeed in bigger places.

“Bro country” is ideally suited to those larger places, since most of its appeal is arguably in the music and particularly the rhythm track, as well as the spirit of fun in those songs. That’s a much better fit for tens of thousands of people tailgating and getting crazy in a huge setting, and it’s no surprise that artists like Bryan, Aldean and more are benefiting from that and breaking through to the largest concert venues in the country.

While they’re not exclusively female, we’re also seeing female-fronted acts like Lady Antebellum and the Band Perry shift their focus away from songs like ‘Need You Now’ and ‘If I Die Young’ and toward fare like ‘Bartender’ and ‘Chainsaw,’ which might be more likely to play well in the bigger settings in which those acts now find themselves. And as acts are able to book larger and larger gigs, there’s more of what the business calls “event power” around each gig — more excitement for more fans, which makes it easier for the local radio station promoting the gig to get fans engaged in ticket giveaways, contests and the like.

That’s better for the stations, who naturally reward those artists by playing their songs more — which then sends a signal to other artists that they need to switch up their approach to get similar results. So even though they’re seemingly unrelated, the radio stations, labels and managers are actually all working in tandem toward a common goal — that of exploiting artists in the commercial marketplace for as much profit as possible. Naturally, they’re going to do that by emphasizing whatever kind of music appears to be getting the best marketplace results during any given album cycle.

That tends to leave out artists like Musgraves, Monroe or Clark. It’s a difficult scenario for them in that the quality and challenging nature of their work may actually play against them getting more air time at commercial radio.

Take Musgraves, for example. Her first major label single, ‘Merry Go ‘Round,’ was a Top 10 hit, and it helped her album debut at No. 1. The second single, ‘Blowin’ Smoke,’ missed the Top 20.
For her third single, Musgraves chose the extremely provocative ‘Follow Your Arrow,’ despite the fact that it addresses hot-button topics like same-sex relationships and marijuana use that are still widely seen as taboo issues for much of country’s more conservative fan base. Predictably, many radio programmers simply chose not to play it at all, rather than risk potentially offending their listeners. The song stalled outside the Top 40, and subsequent singles have so far failed to recapture her initial heat at radio.

"Even though they’re seemingly unrelated, the radio stations, labels and managers are actually all working in tandem toward a common goal — that of exploiting artists in the commercial marketplace for as much profit as possible."

So far Monroe — whose album ‘Like a Rose’ slants heavily toward a traditional take on country music — has charted with just one of her singles, ‘Weed Instead of Roses,’ which squeaked into the Top 40 at No. 39, while Clark — who’s signed to a smaller label that simply doesn’t have the financial resources to compete on a level playing field at country radio — has had most of her success via alternate marketing means like satellite radio.

The reality for artists of that caliber is simply this: it’s easier for someone to get hammered and put their fist in the air at a huge arena gig to the sounds of the latest hick-hop hit than it is to the strains of a better-written, more subtly nuanced song from a writer of greater substance — which makes it easier to exploit that kind of music for money. Which is what the music industry does for a living.

So what will it take for us to see more women singing material of more substance at country radio?

The main thing a fan can do is (legally) download music from the artists they like, which sends a message to the labels and radio that supporting those artists could be good business. Don’t just complain there’s nothing you like — get engaged, get involved, call your local radio station and ask for what you want, and let them know you want and would support higher fare.

In the meantime, instead of complaining about the lack of women at country radio, let’s focus on the fact that female artists are creating such strong work right now, and celebrate the fact that we as fans get to access that work online, via satellite radio, NPR and especially through attending live shows by those artists. We’re lucky to be living in an age and time when we don’t have to sit around waiting for a song we like to come on the radio — we can go find whatever we want, whenever we want, and that winds up providing enough financial support for those artists to make a good enough living to continue doing what they’re doing.

And that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

10 New Songs to Check Out

1. Dress Up This Town -Mary Sarah
2. Steal Me Away -Olivia Lane
3. Afterparty -Sandra Lynn
4. Fight Like A Girl -Kalie Shorr
5. Why Baby Why -Mickey Guyton
6. Safe -Katie Arminger
7. How Could I Want More -Jamie Lynn Spears 
8. DysFUNctional -Maddy Newton 
9. Run Away -Lacey Caroline
10. Careless -RaeLynn 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Mary Sarah Joins Team Blake In Hope For A Country Music Win

Blake Shelton’s team on the 10th season of The Voice is off to a strong start with throwback singer Mary Sarah, who performed “Where the Boys Are” during the Blind Auditions on Monday night (Feb. 29).

The ’60s tune took on new life as the young lady put her spin on it and showed off her classic voice, reminiscent of the decade gone by. From the first few notes of her performance she had coach Adam Levine on board — he spun his chair as quickly as she started singing. Next came Shelton and Pharrell, and finally, Christina Aguilera threw her hat in the ring, giving Mary Sarah her pick of all four coaches.

Shelton began making his case, connecting with Mary Sarah on her Texas roots — evidenced by her necklace pendant in the shape of the Lone Star State. The singer has a long resume already, revealing that she got to perform “Where the Boys Are” with the Oak Ridge Boys, which Shelton used to his advantages, claiming to recognize her and asking if she is from Houston.

“You actually sound like you came from that era,” he complimented. “It’s gonna be so refreshing to see somebody bring that era of music back to a stage like this. And then the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville — let’s do that!”

The other judges scoffed at Shelton’s country connections once again trumping their pleas. “They don’t know the Oaks,” Shelton argued about his colleagues. “They don’t even know what I’m talking about. They think I’m talking about a tree right now.”

In the end, it was Shelton’s country ties that swayed Mary Sarah, and she chose to join Team Blake.