7 Women We Want to Hear on Country Radio
International Women's Day, celebrated on March 8, is a time to recognize women's achievements, as well as the roadblocks that 50 percent of the population still faces. Unfortunately for women in country music, one of those roadblocks is getting their songs played on the radio.
For a multitude of reasons, the country music industry is dominated by the genre's men, and the charts prove it: On Billboard's 2018 year-end Hot Country Songs chart, a slim 18 out of 100 songs were made by or featured a female artist or a band with a woman in it. Only one of those 18 songs, "Meant to Be," by pop artist Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line, made it into the Top 10. A country woman doesn't appear on the chart until No. 13 ("Drowns the Whiskey," by Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert), and a solo woman country artist doesn't appear on the chart at all until No. 39 (Carrie Underwood's "Cry Pretty"). However, 10 out of these 100 of the songs feature the words "she," "girl," "woman" or "female" in the title, but are sung by male artists.
The 2018 year-end Country Airplay chart is nearly identical: There are only eight out of 60 total songs made by a woman or a band with a female member, and four songs that feature a woman on the track. That means only 20 percent of the most-played songs on country radio in 2018 featured a female voice in any capacity. No women appear at all in the Top 20, and no female solo artist is seen until Maren Morris, with her song "Rich" at No. 35.
The lack of representation runs deep: Kacey Musgraves won Album of the Year at the 2018 CMA Awards, one of the highest honors in country music, but she didn't see major radio airplay until the beginning of 2019, catalyzed by her all-genre Album of the Year win at the Grammy Awards. After that night, her single "Rainbow" was promoted to country radio, and her previous singles found their way back onto the charts, but not in high placement. Even though Musgraves' Golden Hour is a critically acclaimed hit, it was almost completely ignored by a majority of country radio stations.
Musgraves isn't the only artist to experience this cycle; her peers are suffering just as much. While artists such as Morris, Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Kelsea Ballerini, Lindsay Ell, Maddie & Tae, Runaway June, Carly Pearce and a few others are finding mild success at radio, the volume and frequency of airplay they receive doesn't begin to compare to that of their male peers. There's a number of steps that would have to be taken for this to change, but a good place to begin is by naming a few more women we'd like to see earn airplay.