Marissa R. MossSep 7, 2022
How the Women of Country Music Became the Success They Were Never Supposed to Be
Henry Holt 2022
It was only two decades ago, but, for the women of country music, 1999 seems like an entirely different universe. With Shania Twain, country's biggest award winner and star, and The Chicks topping every chart, country music was a woman's world: specifically, country radio and Nashville's Music Row.
Cut to 2021, when women are only played on country radio 16% of the time, on a good day, and when only men have won Entertainer of the Year at the CMA Awards for a decade. To a world where artists like Kacey Musgraves sell out arenas but barely score a single second of airplay. But also to a world where these women are infinitely bigger live draws than most male counterparts, having massive pop crossover hits like Maren Morris's "The Middle," pushing the industry to confront its deeply embedded racial biases with Mickey Guyton's "Black Like Me," winning heaps of Grammy nominations, banding up in supergroups like The Highwomen and taking complete control of their own careers, on their own terms. When the rules stopped working for the women of country music, they threw them out and made their own: and changed the genre forever, and for better.
Her Country: How the Women of Country Music Became the Success They Were Never Supposed to Be (Henry Holt, 2022) is veteran Nashville journalist Marissa R. Moss's story of how in the past two decades, country's women fought back against systems designed to keep them down, armed with their art and never willing to just shut up and sing: how women like Kacey, Mickey, Maren, The Chicks, Miranda Lambert, Rissi Palmer, Brandy Clark, LeAnn Rimes, Brandi Carlile, Margo Price and many more have reinvented the rules to find their place in an industry stacked against them, how they've ruled the century when it comes to artistic output--and about how women can and do belong in the mainstream of country music, even if their voices aren't being heard as loudly.
Marissa R. Moss is an award-winning journalist who has written about the topic of gender inequality on the country airwaves for outlets like Rolling Stone, NPR, Billboard, Entertainment Weekly, and many more. Moss was the 2018 recipient of the Rolling Stone Chet Flippo Award for Excellence in Country Music Journalism, and the 2019 Nashville Scene Best of Nashville Best Music Reporter. She has been a guest on The TODAY Show, Entertainment Tonight, CBS Morning Show, NPR's Weekend Edition, WPLN, the Pop Literacy Podcast, and more.
Marissa R. Moss on Twitter.
Bradley Morgan is a media arts professional in Chicago and author of U2's The Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America. He manages partnerships on behalf of CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, serves as a co-chair of the associate board at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and volunteers in the music archive at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Bradley Morgan on Twitter.