I recall a time, not so long ago, when women dominated the country music scene. Fast forward to the second decade of the 21st century and it’s almost the exact opposite…to the point where one radio consultant, Keith Hill, actually went on the record and said “If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out.”
But even while Mr. Hill was giving his, now, famous interview a revolution, of sorts, was beginning to form. A quiet revolution made up of a crop of emerging female artists that were determined to be heard. Even here in Canada we’ve got such a large group of talented women in country music but yet on both fronts something is missing.
As 2015 drew to a close more and more women could be heard on country radio but, aside from Carrie Underwood and CMT’s Next Women of Country tour, there were very few tours showcasing the women of country music.
Keith Hill referred to men as lettuce and women as tomatoes in the salad of country music. I’ve been extensively covering country music for about the last 6 years now and the lettuce is getting old. I see the same male headliners going on tour year after year mixing up their male counterparts. For example one year you’ll have Luke Bryan hit the road with Randy Houser and Dustin Lynch and Jason Aldean hits the road with Florida Georgia Line and Cole Swindell and the next they switch or one of the opening acts, like Florida Georgia Line, becomes a headliner and brings someone like Thomas Rhett and Frankie Ballard. Case in point Jason Aldean is hitting the road with…Thomas Rhett and A Thousand Horses. Notice a clear omission? Yup you got it, all lettuce, not a single tomato!
In fact in 2016 will see a few major tours roll through Ontario including:
Brantley Gilbert – Blackout Tour with Canaan Smith, Michael Ray and Brian Davis (tour wrapped up it’s Ontario dates this past weekend)
Gord Bamford with Joe Nichols – Certified Country Tour with special guests Autumn Hill and Tristan Horncastle (maritime dates)
Johnny Reid with Aaron Goodvin, J.J. Shiplett and Natalie MacMaster (dates across Canada click for ticket info)
Brad Paisley with Chris Young and Lee Brice (Molson Amphitheatre Toronto – Country Megaticket)
Florida Georgia Line Dig Your Roots Tour with Cole Swindell and Cadillac Three and Kane Brown (Molson Amphitheatre Toronto – Country Megaticket)
The list goes on and on but you get the idea. In fact one of the only tours to feature an emerging female artist is Keith Urban’s RipCord Tour which rolls into the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto with Brett Eldredge and Maren Morris.
Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against any of the tours above, in fact there’s a few of them I’m really looking forward to. I’m just surprised that, with a roster of immensely talented female artists both north and south of the border to chose from (I could list them all but I know I would miss someone and that wouldn’t be fair because they are all amazing), so few tours are leaving the women out completely.
I think it’s time for the women to rise up and return to the top of the country charts and band together and start building their own tours. So what if the men don’t want them, who needs them anyway.
If you could build your ultimate all female tour, who would you put in the lineup? Let me know in the comments or through our social media!
Hendrik Pape / @hendrikpape