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What happened to the women of country?

Country Standard Time Editorial, June 1999

Much has been made in recent years of the increasing prominence of women in country music. The males - otherwise known as hat acts - were getting increasingly Boring.

The result was the emergence of the likes of Shania Twain, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Martina McBride, Faith Hill, Trisha Yearwood, Lee Ann Rimes and others.

But just as they ascended the country charts and became increasingly popular, what happened?

Almost to a woman (except for Patty Loveless, who along with Mandy Barnett, is as close to hard core country as seems to possible these days), however, what happened once they attained success was that they've gone well past their country beginnings and crossed over to the pop field.

Faith Hill, for example, gives concerts where she chooses to cover pop songs, not country. Twain, to her credit, does not deny the crossover effect and seems quite satisfied with crossing musical boundaries.

Is there anything wrong with it? Well, of course, if that's what the artist wants, no. They should try to control their own destiny as much as possible.

But that leaves country listeners with little to listen to of what many would consider country music. What happened is that radio stations will play whatever any of these women (or males for that matter) release as singles even though the songs may have zero to do with country.

And that makes it increasingly harder unfortunately for the traditional country acts, like Barnett, to gain any kind of foothold. Seems funny even though what they are offering is something far more traditional and different sounding from the rest of the pack.

The ultimate result could be that the best known women country artists may move past the genre for good, leaving room for others, who hopefully will prove more able to carry the mantle. And stay there.