Rising Stars Honor Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire + More at Women’s History Month Event
Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire and other iconic women of country music were honored as part of Sony Music Nashville's inaugural Celebration of Women's History Month on Monday (March 11) at City Winery in Nashville.
Up-and-coming acts Rachel Wammack, Carlton Anderson, Seaforth, Hannah Dasher and Robert Counts paid homage to the powerful women who've defined multiple decades of country music. Counts kicked off the 75-minute showcase by turning Lynn's "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)" into a rugged acoustic number with his gritty vocals, citing Lynn as his songwriting idol.
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"She keeps it simple, she keeps it honest, and I appreciate that as a songwriter," he remarked. "She's done a lot for my career, she's a huge influence."
Traveling through Parton's reign in the 1970s and 80s, Wammack added her soul power to "Jolene," Tom Jordan and Mitch Thompson of Seaforth contributing haunting harmonies, while Dasher brought her smoky vocals to "9 to 5." Dasher further proved that her voice is a force to be reckoned with when she took on McEntire's "You Lie," showing off an impressive range and nailing the intimidating high note that anchors the chorus.
Anderson's voice glowed on Barbara Mandrell's defining "I Was Country When Country Wasn't Cool," a song that was a natural fit for him, considering his loyalty to the genre's traditional style. He later delivered one of the best performances of the night with Patty Loveless' "You Don't Even Know Who I Am."
"I grew up listening to this one and it probably took me until I was 18 to 21 to really understand what the song really meant," he explained of the Grammy-nominated song that tells the story of a married couple who realize they've fallen out of love with one other. "It didn't take away from my love for the song, but when you finally figure out what that song's about, it kind of hits you in the chest, and I think that's the beauty of the genre that we're in."
Wammack followed this emotive path when she brought the house down with "Strawberry Wine" and "How Do I Live." She transformed Deana Carter's debut single that earned her the CMA Award for Song of the Year in 1997 into a piano ballad so poignant it felt like she was singing it from her soul. Her rendition of the power number that was influential for both LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood was equally stirring — the newcomer expressed a hope that she could record it herself.
Counts closed out the show by delivering a sincere interpretation of Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me."
Proceeds from the night benefited She Is the Music, a national nonprofit working to incorporate more women in the music industry, and Thistle Farms, an organization that helps rehabilitate and employ women who've survived prostitution, trafficking and drug addiction.
The event was as much a history lesson as it was a concert, with hosts Hunter Kelly and Ashley Eicher chronicling the success of each song that was performed, from Parton scoring an Oscar nomination for "9 to 5" to Rimes setting a record with more than 30 weeks in the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with "How Do I Live," proving the scope of the impact women have made throughout country music history. As Carrie Murphy of talent agency Williams Morris Entertainment wisely noted: "Girls can't be what they can't see."
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