If you’re ever listening to country radio, try counting how long it takes you to hear more than one song sung by a female singer .. On average, it takes a little more than an hour. Rarely, will you ever get to hear two female tracks played back to back on country radio.
If you’re wondering why that is, I’m sorry, but I honestly don’t have an answer. It’s the industry. It’s the machine. It’s society. Or all of the above. I don’t know for sure, and it literally devastates me. It shatters my soul because there’s no good reason as to why it’s like that for female artists, but I do have this hint of hope about it, and the people fueling it are called The Highwomen.
I was inspired by my daughter, I think, because she was starting to show signs of wanting to play music, maybe, when she grows up and so I thought the worst thing that could happen would be that she would go for country because there are only currently two women’s voices that you can actually hear on the radio.
– Amanda Shires –
Grammy Award-winning artists Amanda Shires, Maren Morris, Brandi Carlile, and Natalie Hemby are The Highwomen, and their mission is simply to bring more women to the forefront of country music – and when I tell you this is something I have wanted to talk about for a long time, I mean it’s something I have wanted to talk about for a long time.
Watch – Redesigning Women by The Highwomen
There are so many hidden talents that belong to so many beautiful and inspiring women who live and work around Nashville that deserve to be heard just as loud as any male artist on country radio.
This post isn’t gonna be me asking you to listen to country music, and it’s not gonna be me slamming male country singers. It’s also not an album review. It’s just gonna be me letting you know about their names. How we need The Highwomen. We’ve needed The Highwomen, and I thank the universe. I just wanna have this conversation. Why did it take so damn long?
Say what you want. They’re not The Highwaymen. Of course not. Like what did you expect? We already know Cash, Jennings, Nelson, and Kristofferson forged outlaw country, and that’s cool. Don’t get me wrong. There are male country artists out there who have written songs that I credit with saving my life, but I know there has to be more out there. I’m tired.
Country music was the first genre of music that I began to love for myself, and after years of growing up with iconic female voices, I can’t help but think that there just has to be more. There has to be more, and the fact is, there are. They’re just not ever played on air. They’re not invited to the forefront of major events. They’re second in a genre where men have always been first, and that’s fine, but like … It’s 2019.
What I love about these four women is that they’ve taken it upon themselves to spend parts of their amazing careers dedicated to helping front a different kind of future for up and coming female country artists, and they’re doing it with love, and grace, and confidence. They refuse to do “Men suck,” songs, and I love that because that’s not the conversation we’re trying to have. It’s just – we’re here, and we want you to listen to us too.
We were just talking about women; women’s stories and women in country music, women in Nashville, girls we knew and the fights that they had. The next thing you know, it’s like, boom, “Crowded Table,” boom, “Redesigning Women.” We were spinning.
– Brandi Carlile –
Maren Morris released her debut single, “My Church,” independently, and it peaked to number one, just like her album Hero did, and like her pop-crossover song “The Middle” did.
Amanda Shires won a Grammy for BEST AMERICANA ALBUM being absolutely phenomenal at fiddle playing for her work with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s The Nashville Sound.
Brandi Carlile released By The Way, I Forgive You which I would argue was one of the most beautiful collections of music put out in 2018 and I saw barely anybody talking about it but at least she won this year’s Grammy for BEST AMERICANA for it.
You’ve probably never heard her name before, but you wouldn’t believe how many songs Natalie Hemby’s penned that also lives on Grammy Award-winning albums.
I’m not saying I want every female country singer out their winning Grammys. I’m saying they’re doing great – like breathtakingly successful, and nobody talks about it. They’re winning Album of the Year awards and not getting airplay. What the hell – and it’s not about getting recognition. It’s about the opportunity.
They play me, but when you compare it to some of my male peers, it’s pretty staggering still – and I’m one of the few lucky girls that gets played on country radio. We’re just trying to change that.
– Maren Morris –
That’s The Highwomen. I love them. I’m grateful for them, and I’ll probably defend them until I die, and I can guarantee you there are more with the heart and soul and drive just like theirs out there. If only they were given the platform to be just as loud. It’s the conversation I’m going to keep talking about – the one about inclusivity in gender and race in country music – and it’s one I’m not going to let die. I’ve grown up loving country music off the coast of California, so if you wanna talk about not letting things die … but I feel like maybe that’s something we should save for another day.
“Old Soul” is my favorite song off the album because it’s the one that’s me, and it’s the one that made me cry.
I don’t fall in love every other minute
I don’t mind it taking its sweet time
I just know I’ll know it when I see a
Soul like mine
I know this is real bold of me to say, and I’m not talking like I know but I just feel like the legends like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Lucinda Williams might honestly be SO proud of these four. The harmonies. The mission. The music. The necessity.