If you turn on your local country station right now, there’s a very good chance you won’t hear a woman’s voice coming out of your speakers. There is a good chance you’ll hear a man singing about a woman (or a”girl”), small towns and how country they are. There are currently four female country artists on the Mediabase Top 30 country chart, two of which appear as duet partners with male singers.
If you believed mainstream country radio, you might think there are just fewer women making country music. But that’s simply not true. Women are releasing great songs at the same rate as their male counterparts, just with fewer references to backroads and way less radio play. In what should be a golden age of country music filled with female voices, country radio remains in the dark. Here are 10 great songs by female country artists that radio is ignoring.
Aubrie Sellers calls her brand of fiery country music “garage country” and it’s easy to see why. Sellers mixes country twang with garage rock grit on “Sit Here and Cry,” a rollicking heart break anthem in the vein of Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart.”
Caroline Spence’s brilliant 2017 release Spades and Roses is filled with heartfelt story songs that mainstream country music was once known for. “Hotel Amarillo,” a country singer’s lament for life on the road, is a “Guitar Town” for a new generation.
Like all the country greats, Sunny Sweeney mixes equal parts heartbreak and humor on her 2017 release Trophy. But “Better Bad Idea,” a raucous ode to alcohol-fueled decisions, is just plain fun. While the mainstream guys are still singing about drinking in the same old field, Sweeney is already plotting her next move.
Brandy Clark released Big Day in a Small Town last summer, but we say it’s not too late for country radio to get on board. Clark, who’s co-written cuts for Miranda Lambert and Reba McEntire, seems poised for success with “Love Can Go to Hell.” The track was nominated for a Grammy, but never made it up the country charts.
Long embraced by the Americana world, Nikki Lane has been on the fringes of country stardom for quite a while. In a just world, the road warrior anthem “Highway Queen” would be the single to put her over the top.
If there was ever a should-be summer country hit, it’s Natalie Hemby’s “Ferris Wheel.” The dreamy, steel guitar-driven track evokes the spirit of a small town county fair and the wonder of what’s to come.
Caitlyn Smith penned songs for everyone from Dolly Parton to Garth Brooks before releasing her stellar 2017 album Starfire. “Before You Called Me Baby,” which hearkens back to the powerhouse vocals of 90s country divas like Martina McBride and Faith Hill, should be burning up the country charts.
Leave it to Angaleena Presley to be bitingly funny while ripping your heart out. With lyrics like “I’d rather eat dirt than bake another prize winning cherry pie/ the girls down at church can go to hell,” “Wrangled” tells the story of a woman trapped in an unhappy relationship. The result is one of the best songs of 2017.
Since releasing her first EP in 2006, Ashley McBryde has been gaining buzz around Music City, opening for Willie Nelson and Chris Stapleton. The rising star got another boost when Eric Church brought her onstage at his Chicago concert to sing her song “A Bible and a .44.” McBryde’s “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega,” a song about second chances and finding hope in unexpected places, is already gaining ground on streaming sites and satellite radio. With a voice and songs like hers, McBryde deserves spins on mainstream radio alongside the artists who’ve championed her.
It’s kind of mind boggling how Miranda Lambert’s “Tin Man” isn’t already a smash hit. Lambert’s stellar, stripped-down performance of the single at the ACM awards catapulted her 2016 album The Weight of These Wings back to the No. 1 spot on the country albums chart. But “Tin Man,” a gut-punch of a song co-written with Jack Ingram, is still struggling to find a place on country radio. The song currently sits at No. 27 on the Billboard Top Country Songs chart.