Tracing country music paths in “Her Country”

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NEW YORK (AP) — “Her Country: How Women in Country Music Became the Success They Were Never Meant to Be,” by Marissa R. Moss (Henry Holt & Co.)

Women have always played a major role in country music, from the Carter family to Dolly Parton, but in recent years you’d be hard pressed to hear that on country music radio. In “Her Country,” Marissa R. Moss recounts how three singers—Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, and Mickey Guyton—found ways to circumvent the traditional path of Nashville Music Row’s country music industry and its mentality of ” good old boy” to chart successful paths. of their own.


In the 1990s, female country music stars seemed to dominate the airwaves: Shania Twain, Faith Hill, the Chicks (formerly the Dixie Chicks) were mainstream stars. But after the Chicks were essentially blacklisted in 2003 for criticizing George W. Bush, a chill for women took hold in the industry. Even today, women are rarely played side by side on country radio and make up less than 20% of airtime.

But as Morris shows, the women of “Her Country” have managed to produce some of the most creative, inclusive and successful country music of the moment despite the odds. Musgraves, Morris and Guyton all started in Texas as talented singers at a young age, each eventually moving to Nashville to try and break into country music.

Musgraves strove to be inclusive, both in her lyrics and in ensuring her co-writers Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally took to the stage when she won Country Song of the Year. Music Awards in 2014 for “Follow Your Arrow”. It was the first time that two openly gay people took the stage at the CMA for an award.

Morris found success by self-releasing her songs and then working with Spotify to release them in 2015. Her songs were a hit on the platform and left labels scrambling to sign her. Then, she became a crossover hit with global pop hit “The Middle,” with producer Zedd and musical duo Gray in 2018. She joined country music supergroup The Highwomen in 2019.

And Guyton overcame years of discrimination as a black singer in the country music industry to receive a Grammy nomination in 2020 for her song “Black Like Me”, the first black female solo artist to earn a Grammy nomination. Awards in a country music category.

“I realize that not only am I walking through these doors as a black woman, but I have to open the door for many other black, brown, LGBTQIA+ artists who have the same dreams,” she said in behind the scenes.

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