There has been a brewing Equal Play issue in country music, in which female artists have been underrepresented on the airwaves compared to their male counterparts — or, as this article put it, “[Y]ou might hear 10 (or more) songs in a row about women before you hear one by a woman.” The CMAs opened last night’s show with a dozen of them on-stage together, many of them legendary — Reba, Dolly, Tanya, Crystal Gayle — and so it was an apt night indeed for Jennifer Nettles to wear a suit making it very clear how they feel about the dismissive treatment of female artists, and the extra rungs of the ladder they have to climb to be heard. She told the Tennessean, “When I found out that the CMAs were going to be celebrating women this year…I thought, what a fantastic opportunity to take the conversation beyond the applause tonight.”

Maren Morris has talked openly about his, most recently to Harper’s Bazaar:

“There are a lot of gatekeepers that just do not give the same time of day to a new female artist as they would do to a new male artist, and that’s just the long and the short of it,” Morris says.

Sheryl Crow, one of Morris’s biggest influences, echoes this sentiment, telling, “The assumption is that we wouldn’t sell advertising for radio and that we wouldn’t sell tickets, and yet these are some of the greatest songs out there right now, and they’re being written and performed and produced by these young artists.”

Morris is putting her money where her mouth is. In addition to having a team made up of mostly women (her manager, agent, bass player, etc.), she chose to feature only female openers on her tour. She figures, “Okay, if [radio] is not going to play these girls, then I’m going to bring them out on the road with me and thousands of people are going to be seeing them sing these songs every night. And little by little, the dial is going to shift for the better. I think that’s all we can do is go out and play the fucking songs and hope that people like them. Radio is really important, but there are tons of artists that have been hugely successful without it.”

To borrow from Maren’s first big hit: Can I get a Hallelujah? Can I get an Amen?

[Photos: Shutterstock]