In 2015, one radio consultant sparked outrage, comparing female artists to the metaphorical tomatoes in the country music salad. While he seemed to advocate that only a few tomatoes were just fine, some of the genre’s biggest artists spoke out to say that’s not the case — that in fact, there aren’t nearly enough women on the country airwaves.
Nearly five years later, the Country Music Association confronted the problem head-on, dedicating country music’s biggest night, the CMA Awards, to its greatest female artists.
But did it work? Carrie Underwood — who hosted the show with Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire — was a big proponent of the theme, as well as a favorite to win Entertainer of the Year.
But ultimately, it wasn’t Carrie’s year. Garth Brooks took home the Entertainer of the Year trophy for a record-setting seventh time.
In an interesting twist, Kacey Musgraves — who received virtually no radio airplay — walked away with Female Vocalist honors.
Still, it’s with noting that the CMA broadcast — which featured a plethora of female artists, including legends like Tanya Tucker and New Artist of the Year Ashley McBryde — was one of the highest-rated in recent years.
There are plenty of positive signs: Carrie, Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, and Lindsey Ell all enjoyed number ones in 2019. Trisha Yearwood, who proudly points out she’s 55, managed to score her biggest hit in a decade with “Every Girl in This Town.” Newcomers like Ingrid Andress and Caylee Hammack tasted their first success with their debut singles.
But ultimately, a quick look at the final radio airplay chart of the 2010’s reveals there’s still far to go: only about ten of the artists in country’s top 50 are women.
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