Samantha Bee Shines a Light on Sexism in Country Music on ‘Full Frontal’ [Watch]
Samantha Bee turned her unsparing eye on country music on Wednesday night (Jan. 15) on her TBS show, Full Frontal With Samantha Bee, taking the genre to task for its lack of opportunity for female artists.
Bee sent two correspondents to Nashville to talk to some prominent women in country music about the problem, including Brandi Carlile, Leslie Fram from CMT, Margo Price, Tanya Tucker and Mickey Guyton. The segment points out that while Carlile and Tucker earned Grammy nominations for 2020, and female artists are consistently turning out some of the most acclaimed music in the genre, it's become harder and harder and harder for women to gain any traction at country radio in recent years.
"There's really no one person that you can point a finger at," Carlile says. "Anyone that listens to country music, anyone that loves country music, despite where you fall on the political spectrum or who it is that you are, ask yourself this question, which is: what do you want your daughter to know about herself? And if you can't get that from country music, if you can't get that from country radio, it's a problem."
Fram places some of the blame on radio consultant Keith Hill and the so-called "Tomatogate" scandal that rocked country music in 2015, after he likened women in country music to the tomatoes on a salad. Hill argued that female artists should be a garnish for a diet that should consist primarily of male artists, and that playing too many females would lead to declining ratings. That set off a firestorm of controversy, but in the years since, things have gotten worse for women in country music, instead of better.
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Margo Price is part of a vanguard of females who are simply going around country radio to achieve their career goals.
"You say 'tomato,' I say 'F-ck you,'" she says, adding that she's been blacklisted by much of the mainstream country apparatus.
"My music talked about real-life problems, and they just didn't like what I had to say," she states. "But there are people in rural American who need to hear these songs, especially young women."
Guyton shares that she sees herself as part of a cadre of artists who are standing up not only for women, but black performers in country music.
"We're really just paving our own way," she says, adding, "We deserve to be here. I get so many messages from girls saying, 'I'm so glad to see someone that looks like me.' That's a win for me."
Price took the stage to debut a bold new song after the segment, performing "Stone Me," her first new song in two years.
"Love me, hate me / Desecrate me / Call me a bitch, then call me baby / You don't know me / You don't own me / Yeah that's no way to stone me," she sang. Watch that performance in the clip below.
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