Kelsea Ballerini Speaks Out About Lack of Women Played on Country Radio

Song Suffragettes, an all-girls songwriting circle and group has been asking country radio the same thing for years: “Let The Girls Play”. It doesn’t seem like a hard request; women have always added flavor to country music, and radio should reflect the talent coming out of the genre. But it’s been a struggle.

A part of the second-ever Song Suffragettes show back in 2014 was country superstar Kelsea Ballerini. She sat alongside four other girls on stage, singing her then-unknown debut title track “The First Time”: a girl and a guitar with something to say.

Five years later, however, little has changed. On Monday, Chris Willman tweeted that he heard an LA radio station play a Gabby Barrett song followed by a Ballerini song with no interruption. “Can’t they get fined for that?” He said as a joke, clearly excited but shocked that two female artists were played one right after another. Michigan radio station 98 KCQ tweeted Willman back in response. “We cannot play two females back to back. Not even Lady Antebellum or Little Big Town against other female. I applaud their courage.”

 

The tweet reached Ballerini, and she was appalled. “I’m really sorry that in 2020, after YEARS of conversation of equal play, there are still some companies that make their stations play by these rules. It’s unfair and it’s incredibly disappointing.” There were thousands of responses to her post, ranging from artists and songwriters to radio stations and fans.

Artists like Kacey Musgraves, Karen Fairchild, and Lindsay Ell, just to name a few, commented on Ballerini’s post in support and tried to make light of the situation. Musgraves also tweeted, “Smells like white male bullshit and why LONG ago I decided they cannot stop me.” Despite selling out Bridgestone Arena and venues all over the world, Musgraves has yet to have had a #1 as an artist.

There’s a glimmer of hope, though. Jennifer Nettles, whose vocals are as powerful as her tone, told Ballerini, “I know exactly how we do it. And I will call you.” Karen Fairchild commented, “Unbelievable. CHANGE is coming!!!!!!”

 

 

But perhaps the most powerful post of all was from CMT’s Leslie Fram, one of our Women of the Month, who has been creating opportunities for female artists left and right her entire career. “I am committed to change”, her post read simply. And that sentence right there is enough to keep artists creating the art they are creating, and hopefully, snowball into radio finally deciding that it’s time to change the conversation.

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