From Kacey Musgraves to Cam, today’s Country music scene holds strong women who are willing to push boundaries and stand firm in their power. While Country music has some way to go before we reach equality, it’s an exciting time to be part of a fast moving, progressive music scene. With more and more female artists using their platform to demand change, it’s a great time to look back on the women who pushed the boundaries of Country music, paving the way for female artists of today to continue the job. Let’s take a brief look at three female trailblazers in Country history: Loretta Lynn, Gail Davies and Dolly Parton.
- Loretta Lynn, Unapologetically Female
Loretta Lynn was no stranger to controversy and most definitely didn’t shy away from singing about topics that most women experienced but dared not talk about. In a conservative Country scene where women were prompted to “Stand By Your Man”, Loretta topped the charts with hits that tackled taboo subjects such as divorce, revenge, cheating and birth control.
While she wrote unapologetically about her experiences as a woman, it wasn’t plain sailing in a male-dominated industry. Loretta’s upfront and earnest songwriting saw many of her songs being denounced by industry executives. For example, Loretta’s 1975 song, “The Pill” (which explored the struggle of women who have no control over becoming pregnant, and the freedom that birth control had given them), was banned by 60 stations in America. However, nothing could stop Loretta’s determination, and “The Pill” became one of her most popular songs of all time.
- Gail Davies, Country’s First Female Producer
A common point of discussion among female artists of today is the constant struggle to be taken seriously as a producer. One woman who paved the way for women to be seen and heard was Country’s first music producer, Gail Davies.
After being unimpressed with the production on her first album, in 1979 Gail produced her own album “The Game”, which not only saw her become the first ever female producer in Country music history, but also saw her score a Top 10 single and two Top 20s. While Gail’s talent for producing continued to see her top the charts, she met a lot of resistance, with men telling her “I ain’t going to work for no girl telling me what to do”, and received a lack of support from record labels. During the 70s, Gail felt so disheartened by the lack of support that she considered leaving Nashville to move back to Los Angeles. Despite the adversities that Gail faced, she stayed in Nashville, continuing to produce music to critical acclaim and was nominated for a Grammy Award and won an IBMA Award in 2002.
- Dolly Parton, LGBT+ Advocate
Dolly Parton is the Godmother of Country music. Not only has she championed acceptance of ourselves, others and women standing in their power, she has also been an active advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.
In 2005, Dolly wrote the song “Travelin’ Thru” for the feature film “Transamerica”. The film told the story of one trans woman’s journey to self-acceptance and love. While the song scored Dolly an Academy Award for Best Original Song, she faced backlash for her views. Even death threats couldn’t stop Dolly’s support of the LGBTQ+ community, and she has continued to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, including gay marriage. In 2016 she told the New York Times “I have a huge gay following, and I’m proud of them.”, and has revealed that the music she composed for Netflix’s 2018 hit ‘Dumplin’, was inspired by her gay fan base and drag queens.
Change is in the Making
Women like Loretta Lynn, Gail Davies and Dolly Parton (among others), put their necks on the line for their vision of an equal Country music scene. Today, women in the industry are continuing where they left off to make sure we move closer that vision. We’re not quite there yet, but it’s always a good time to celebrate the importance of strong women in the industry. For every great male Country musician, there is an equally great female Country musician. The rewards and opportunities should reflect that. The Country world is changing, and women are playing a pivotal role in that change.
Article Written by Honor Logan (http://twitter.com/honorlogan3)