2015 had featured a lot of big steps forward for women in country music. Maddie and Tae burst onto the scene with “Girl in a Country Song,” which lampooned bro country’s tired tropes. Kacey Musgraves and Ashely Monroe and Miranda Lambert released critically acclaimed albums. Carrie Underwood upped her total amount of CMT Music Awards to 13, the most out of any artist. Lambert took home three ACM awards this year as well and won the ACM Album of the Year three times since 2010.
But yet, amidst all the success, the good ol’ boys club occasionally reared its ugly head.
Radio programming consultant Keith Hill compared women country artists to tomatoes in salad, as opposed to “lettuce” stars like Luke Bryan, which rightly angered many people in the business, not just women.
Maddie and Tae, for all their success with “Girl in a Country Song,” received major flak for it in publicity stops, as their agents instructed them to not antagonize male artists in interviews, forcing them to claim the song wasn’t a dig at sexist tropes and instead was just a bunch of jokes. Florida Georgia Line added to the kerfuffle by saying they didn’t know any girls who wouldn’t want to be in a country song.
It’s the second half of the 2010s and country music still doesn’t want to embrace a new generation of young female singers without chastising them.
But there is hope.
2016 promises to be a great year for women, and not just for the groups mentioned above.
Loretta Lynn is scheduled to release her first album since 2004, which will span the entire story of her life.
Maddie and Tae’s Start Here has already sold 61,700 copies as of November 2015.
Singer/songwriter Brandy Clark is rumored to be working on another, more personal album set for a 2016 release.
And, maybe the best thing for women in country music in 2016 (drum roll…) The Dixie Chicks are going back on tour. They haven’t sold out any dates yet, but the tour promises to be huge.
This isn’t a cure-all for country’s woman woes, but if there was ever an attempt at making things right, it’s the public accepting the Dixie Chicks again.
Famously ostracized for their London comments about former president George W. Bush right before the U.S. invaded Iraq, the Chicks have largely disappeared from public view.
It wasn’t popular to criticize the president through music back then, especially if those remarks were made by a country artist. It would be even worse if that country artist was a woman.
In today’s climate, a statement like “We’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas” could be said with little to no repercussion. And there’s no doubt that incident struck a nerve with many female country artists, many of whom got famous for not compromising their views, like Miranda Lambert.
The return of the Dixie Chicks means that country music fans are finally forgiving the group (for doing something they shouldn’t have to apologize for in the first place) and possibly embracing new artists.
Their return, combined with new artists like Maddie and Tae and Cam, and old artists like Lynn, who can reinvigorate their audiences.
Here’s to a new 2016, and here’s to a better year for women in country music.