Nashville country singer “Cam” graciously lent her time to the BHS News Staff for an interview. We thank her for this opportunity.
The summer of 2015 saw the release of one of country music’s most known modern ballads, “Burning House,” written and performed by singer Cam. With the song peaking at number two on the country charts and 29 on Billboard’s Hot 100, it seemed Cam was on track to be country music’s next darling.
Since the release of “Burning House,” it has been over half a decade since a song performed by a woman has had comparable longevity, begging the question: why are women in contemporary country music not seeing the same successes women had in the genre just a mere decade earlier?
Well, for starters, the genre is simply just not giving the same opportunities and representation to women that it once did.
“Pretty much every space I’ve ever been in, women and non-binary folks make up much less than half, closer to 22 percent or less, in recording studios, touring, songwriters, artists, label staff, and radio play.” Cam told a BHS News Staffer.
When an industry does not reflect the reality of the diversity within the country it is bound to become oppressive towards those minorities. The simple truth of the fact is that country radio does not give the same opportunities to female artists as it does to the men within the genre, look no further than the current radio airplay charts– there may be 20 female artists on the entire 100-song list.
“People seem to view women as less credible, less worthy of controlling the art, less able to accomplish things,” Cam said. “There’s always a man nearby to ‘vouch’ for her or help earn people’s trust.”
It’s not like equality in the genre is impossible; some of the most influential artists in the entire genre are women from the 1980s and 1990s. It is as a direct result of the lack of diversity in leadership positions that women have been seeing a direct decrease in airplay over the past two decades. When women are not allowed to take a place at the negotiating table they are destined to be underrepresented.
Men not only in country, but in the music industry everywhere, are not held to nearly as high of a standard as their female counterparts. They aren’t expected to sing as well, they aren’t expected to work as hard, and most importantly, they aren’t expected to be flawless.
“[I was] told by a label president I need to dress to look more like a ‘star’ – that’s an hour to three hours of my time getting ready before every appearance, and so much money put into glam and wardrobe that my male counterparts don’t have to,” she said.
The only way to solve the issue of inequality in country is to educate ourselves on where this deep-rooted imbalance comes from. Putting a Bandaid over the wound and pretending it does not exist may work for now, but it will never be truly resolved until the issue of men refusing to give women equal opportunity is addressed head on.