It was a very unusual show in Nashville on Wednesday night: a country music awards show where female artists outnumbered men.
That was intentional, since the annual WTC Artists of the Year ceremony decided to honor only women: Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Hillary Scott, Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman.
"This year, we are developing the special to reflect what is happening now in the culture and lives of our fans," Leslie Fram, CMT senior vice president, said last month. She has been one of the most outspoken voices about the gender imbalance much discussed in country music, where there is a serious lack of women playing on the radio, included in streaming playlists and included in the festival line-ups. "Dedicating one of the greatest nights in the genre to applaud the country country artists not only strengthens our commitment, but we hope it will bring about a much-needed change in the industry."
The 90-minute special was purely festive, with performances by honorees who collaborated with Gladys Knight, Tori Kelly, Brandi Carlile and Alison Krauss. But the artists did not contain themselves about the frustrations either. A pre-recorded segment presented the singers by calling the country's radio, known as the launch pad for overall success in the genre.
"I do not know why women do not play on the country's radio," Lambert said. "I think women are doing their job and, therefore, it really is not a reflection on us." At the end of the day, the best song should win, no matter who sings it. "
"They're saying that women do not want to listen to women," Morris added, echoing A common explanation of the radio programmers that indicate the demographic characteristics of the listeners. "I'll have to call BS, because I grew up listening to women. That's why I'm here today. "
"For a while, country was a trend," Ballerini said of the party songs centered on the men who took over the country's radio. "We're not saying that this music is bad, we're just saying you're leaving people out."
That set the stage for the entire acceptance speech of Fairchild and Schlapman, also known as half of the Little Big Town quartet.
"I can not say enough about CMT to honor women and celebrate women when it's really important right now, and I feel humble and I hope I can fulfill this honor," said Fairchild. Then he turned his attention to his phone and started reading.
"But I just want to say in case someone is watching: Danielle Bradbery, Runaway June, Kelleigh Bannen, Kassi Ashton, Ashley McBryde, Cassadee Pope, RaeLynn, Mickey Guyton, Lucie Silvas, Jillian Jacqueline, Heather Morgan, Abby Anderson, Aubrie Sellers, Tenille Townes, Rachel Wammack, Maddie and Tae, Carly Pearce, Ruthie Collins, Maggie Rose, Caitlyn Smith, Lindsay Ell, Jana Kramer, Clare Dunn, Lauren Alaina, Margo Price, Brotherhood Band, Natalie Stovall, Kree Harrison, Brooke Eden "Candi Carpenter, Lillie Mae, Emily Hackett, Little Feather, Kalie Shorr and Lacy Cavalier are there for you to support, and play on the radio if you want."
The public applauded violently the long list, that includes acts in great seals; independent artists; singers who have had singles flop on the radio; and some that recently had their first successes. Still, those 35 names just scratched the surface of the talented songwriters in Nashville. It was a discordant and disturbing contrast to listen to that list and compare it to, say, the radio chart of the top 50 countries this week, which has only five women's songs.
In other words, in just 45 seconds, Fairchild provided one of the most powerful prize moments of the year. Social networks started to sound, and some of the artists who were named could not believe what they had just heard.
Not to mention that the show was crowned by a stellar mix of Carrie Underwood, accompanied by Maddie & Tae and the trio Runaway June, the two acts that is touring with her next year. It was another rare show in a national awards program, as six women stood on stage and sang hits from female stars: "Stand by Your Man", "9 a 5", "Rockin & # 39; With the Rhythm of the Rain "," Independence Day "," Wild "," Why I have not heard of you "," Man, I feel like a woman "and Underwood's own" Cry Pretty ".
Underwood was also sincere in her acceptance speech, when she addressed her fellow honorees.
"Thanks, CMT, for doing this. We need more things like this, "Underwood said." But I definitely want to tell all the incredible and incredible talented women who have been on this stage tonight: You're not here because you're a woman. You are here because you are very good. "
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