Pandora Presents Women In Country: Review
Fri, 11 Dec 2015 12:47:17
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(October 14th, 2015, New York City) Pandora Presents Women In Country began like most New York City charity events do--well dressed twenty and thirty-somethings fresh off a day at the office sipping champagne and searching for spots to stash their stuff. Pandora's co-founder Tim Westergren, was the first up on stage. He quoted Keith Hill, who infamously called women "the tomatoes" of country music's salad, and advised radio DJs to stop playing songs by women to bolster ratings.
Westergren begged to disagree. "That guy has no f***ing idea what he is talking about," he said, and he was right. Country music has a reputation of treating women well, or at least better, than their more mainstream counterparts.
Perhaps this stems from the wild-west, pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps mentality country music loves to celebrate, but women in country music are having a tough time these days. They are steadily being edged out of the business. Male artists generally get first pick at songs, leaving women to choose from the leftovers or write their own, and labels often refuse to take on more than one female artist at a time, saying things like "we already have our girl."
Three women defying the statistics were the performers of the night: RaeLynn, Cassadee Pope, and Martina McBride. All three are talented songwriters with powerful voices and over 3.7 million combined spins on Pandora.
RaeLynn was the first to take the stage. After thanking country radio (because getting radio play is still the primary path to a career in Nashville), she performed several songs off her upcoming debut album, including "God Made Girls." The song featured lyrics like "somebody's gotta wear a pretty skirt" and "God made girls for singing in your front seat." A room full of New Yorkers swayed uncomfortably to the catchy, God-centric tune. The breakout hit is not exactly a deviation from reductive and often sexist "bro-country" that's taken over the country airwaves in recent years, but perhaps that's why RaeLynn has successfully gained radio play while many of her female peers have not.
Martina McBride, RaeLynn, and Cassadee Pope perform at Pandora Presents Women In Country
Next up was Cassadee Pope. The singer/songwriter was the first female winner of The Voice, and she has the pipes to back that title up. She spoke of her time living in New York, and soon had the whole room dancing to cover of "Hotel California." She almost seemed surprised at the success of her performance, laughing as she asked the crowd whether we really liked her or if the event just had an open bar.
Martina McBride closed out the night, taking the stage with a sparkling silver power suit and a full band, complete with a horn section and three backup singers, blaring behind her. She had to fight through some technical problems at the beginning of her set, but didn't let that stop her from delivering a fantastic performance. Everybody sang along to her smash hits, Rose Garden and Concrete Angle. Who knew there were so many country fans this far north of the Mason Dixon?
All three women performed beautifully. They captivated the crowd and left us wanting more. But they were only three people. Almost every other industry professional working the event--from the other musicians on stage to the technicians behind the soundboard and the crew filming the event--was a man. The only women present were the three headliners, and McBride's backup singers. So while this event was a lovely gesture from a decidedly male driven industry towards the fairer sex, it was just that: a gesture that reflected the cultural realities that women in the Arts continue to face.
Create a RaeLynn Pandora station.
Create a Martina McBride Pandora station.
Create a Cassadee Pope Pandora station.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff
Buy Martina McBride music on iTunes
Buy Cassadee Pope music on iTunes
Buy RaeLynn music on iTunes