Recently, a U.S. country radio station tweeted “We cannot play two females back to back.” This stark admission shone a spotlight on the genr’se gender disparity that country artists, fans and journalists have been railing against for years.
Neither patience nor awareness of the problem has worked as we’re still hearing justifications for discrimination like ‘there aren’t enough talented women in the genre’ or ‘audience don’t want to listen to women,’ as if Dolly, Reba, Shania, Taylor, Carrie, Kacey and countless more never sold any records or tickets!
A group of musicians in Nashville got tired of waiting for change and took action by creating their own opportunities. Five years ago, they formed the collective Song Suffragettes collective. They host a weekly show at the Listening Room Café in Nashville which has featured over 250 female singer-songwriters. The sold-out shows have resulted in over 40 of the performers landing publishing deals and 16 being signed!
The great news for us is that they’re taking the winning formula on the road. Kalie Shorr and Candi Carpenter are bringing Song Suffragettes to the UK!
The debut album by Kalie Shorr was judged the #7 Best Album of 2019 by The New York Times, alongside Taylor Swift, Lana Del Ray and Ariana Grande. She was also named one of CMT’s Next Women of Country.
Meanwhile, Candi Carpenter has been performing in Nashville for twenty years, during which time she’s worked with Brandi Carlile, performed for Dolly Parton, and played at the Grand Ole Opry. She signed a production deal aged 11 and has stories to tell about escaping a bad management deal and working three jobs to make it on her own terms.
“Candi Carpenter is one of the greatest singer/songwriters I’ve ever heard, bar none.”Dolly Parton
The UK country scene doesn’t have quite the same issues as the U.S. because female performers, both national and international, are warmly supported live. However, Emily Faye, Beth Keeping and Vic Allen spotted that only 17% of UK songwriters were women in 2017. They formed Write Like a Girl, a songwriters’ round that tours the UK to provide opportunities for local talent and encourage more women to join the industry. Vic Allen will join the Song Suffragettes tour to further that mission.
Bellah Mae is a great example of the kind of talent that Song Suffragettes and Write Like A Girl both want to showcase. She’s been playing guitar since age 10, released her debut EP last year, and she’s still only 18. Another local singer-songwriter will join the line-up on each date of the Song Suffragette UK tour.
April 26: Oran Mor, Glasgow
April 27: Glee Club, Nottingham
April 28: Glee Club, Birmingham
April 29: Band On The Wall, Manchester
April 30: Bush Hall, London