Belles and Gals Mission Statement
It is evident that female artists do not receive a fair deal in the country music industry. The comparative lack of radio play for these artists in comparison to their male counterparts is well documented. This has a knock-on effect. Male artists find it easier to secure record deals, sell tickets, secure advertising deals and enjoy many other perks which all lead to successful careers in the country music industry. Some in the industry point to this success as justification for the lack of equality in radio play – we simply see a vicious circle which needs to be broken.
To this end, Belles and Gals has a clear aim. The site is dedicated to promotion and support of all underrepresented country music artists at all stages of their career (including members of the LGBTQ+ community and those of an ethnic minority).
How do we achieve this?
On the site we’ll feature reviews, interviews and a series of regular features. Belles and Gals is much more than just a website however. Our social media postings on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram each aim to offer something different, while endeavouring to promote all aspects of the genre.
Being based in the UK, Belles and Gals has a special place in our heart for the burgeoning UK scene. We devote a good percentage of the site to UK artists, as well as running a sponsorship scheme to highlight some of the best talent in the UK. Belles and Gals is dedicated to the live music scene too, promoting many gender and race balanced gigs with the intention of showcasing, and supporting, talent.
Belles and Gals is nothing without our wonderful following, so interaction with them is key. We aim to offer a wide range of competitions for our dedicated supporters, and we’re always interested in hearing about your country music experiences, your favourite artists and those songs that mean something special. Together, we can really make a difference.
We’re proud to promote all communities within country music and we look forward to the day when there is real equality within the genre. We won’t stop fighting until that is a reality.
The Belles and Gals Team
Nick Cantwell – Founder/Managing Director. Hi, I’m Nick, I started Belles and Gals back in January 2016. I’ve been into country music for around 15 years and it would be fair to say that I listen to nothing else! Favorite artists? Too many to mention, but I have a real love for the burgeoning UK scene. (twitter.com/nickbelles_gals)
Liam Lewis – Director of Operations. Hey! I’m Liam. A Chemistry student from South Wales but now living in the midlands. I was first made aware of country through the likes of Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift, but I’ve stuck around for the many awesome female artists and the rapidly growing live music scene in the UK. I’m excited to be able to share some of my views and to spread the word of some amazing new artists. (twitter.com/liam0324)
Samantha Melrose – Director of Communications. Hi everyone, I’m Sam and I’ve been a country music fan since I was in the womb. Having my parents live in Tennessee meant they bought country music to our household and I think it was engraved in my DNA. I’ve done everything from being a musician, to production and journalism. I love everything about this genre and can’t wait to share my views and some great music with you all. Above all, I’m honoured to be part of this team and help make a difference. (twitter.com/smelrose93)
Astrid Mjøen – Social Promotions Co-ordinator. Hi. I’m Astrid from Norway! I have a huge passion for country music, and I’m proud to have been a part of Team Belles and Gals since the beginning! Excited to handle social media, and to give you video shouts on Twitter daily! Can’t wait to see what’s next for the fastest growing country site in the UK! (twitter.com/astridhelenem84)
Lesley Hastings – Senior Reviewer. “Howdy“ from rural Buckinghamshire where I live with my three rescue dogs Maisy, Woody and Jolene. I’m proud to have been a member of this fantastic team right from the start and am so thrilled about the site’s meteoric rise! Back in my teens it was Linda Ronstadt and Patst Cline who were my introduction to country music, and my favourite contemporary artists reflect my preference for classic country…….Brandy Clark, Ashley Mcbryde and Erin Enderlin being my current top three. I go to far too many concerts for the good of my bank balance but am particularly drawn to smaller, acoustic gigs especially a songwriters round. I’ll see some of you out on the road I’m sure (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)
Emily J Weall – Design and Promotion. Hi guys! I’m Emily, a blogger with a slight addiction to live music, cheeses and drinking tea! I first fell into country music when I was in high school and Taylor Swift had just released her second album and here I am, 9 years later! You can find me at the back of a gig with a gin in my hand or over on my lifestyle & music blog http://www.something-like-emily.com (twitter.com/emilyj_weall)
Megan Roberts – Senior Contributor and Live Interviews Coordinator. Hello There! I’m Meg, a Student and aspiring Journalist from East Anglia. In my spare time you can find me travelling, playing my Ukulele and writing for my blog. My love for music started when I was gifted Taylor Swift’s Fearless CD in 2009, and this is what kickstarted my enthusiasm for the Country genre at a young age. Almost a decade later I’m a huge fan of artists such as Catherine McGrath and Kelsea Ballerini. As a new member of the Belles and Gals Team, I think it’s extremely important to give growing artists a voice, and can’t wait to see new talent blossom onto a worldwide stage! (twitter.com/megwritesalot)
Honor Logan – Scotland Correspondent. Hello everyone, I’m Honor. Music has always been at the centre of my life, however, as I got older I was convinced that I needed a “real job”, and went on to study law at university. Upon graduating, my sisters suggested we take our music seriously and make it full-time. Being in a Country-Pop band is now my “real job”, and it doesn’t get anymore real than the Country music scene! I’ve had my share of challenges along the way, and I’m keen to share what I have learned through my writing, and give others the chance to do the same. (twitter.com/honorlogan3)
Dave Jarman – Americana Correspondent. Hi I’m Dave, based in Broadstairs and London. Delighted to be part of the Belles and Gals team, long-time fan of Country and Americana genres, from early days of Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams to Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash, through to today’s thriving scene. I follow many women in Country and Americana, including Mary Gauthier, Lucinda Williams, Hannah Aldridge, Ashley Campbell and Gillian Welch and in the UK Worry Dolls, Wandering Hearts, Emily Barker ( via Australia) and Angelina. (twitter.com/davidjpj)
Ann Kenney – Emerging Talent Correspondent Hi folks! I’m Ann, a lyricist/songwriter and a lover of country music, based in Surrey. I grew up in a large family, surrounded by music from Dolly Parton, Jonny Cash, Gladys Night, Bob Marley, Debbie Harry and Annie Lennox to name a few. As a result storytelling and lyrical hooks are what grabs me and so I’m drawn to country music. The UK Country and Americana scene is expanding in an exciting way and I am glad to play my part in helping country fans find great home-grown talent to follow and enjoy. I’m especially keen to shine a spotlight on new and emerging talent so contact me if that’s you! (twitter.com/annkenneysongs)
Jess T – Video Interviewer Hi all, I’m Jess! I’ve always loved country music and was bought up on its magic and I’ve been lucky enough to work in the industry as both a performer and radio presenter. This gives me a full understanding of the musician and the creativity, love, work and soul that goes into producing music. I love working with people and helping artists make the best of their gifts. (twitter.com/jesstcountry)
Gareth – UK Wide Reviews – Hello from North Wales! I’m Gareth and I became a country music convert after hearing The Shires on BBC Radio 2. Since then, I’ve tried to immerse myself in the genre (in no small part thanks to a certain Bob Harris!), with a particular interest in the growing scene over here in the UK. I am drawn to the lyrical storytelling of country music, meaning that I’m a sucker for a songwriters round! I also love the breadth and depth of the genre, with some of my favourite artists – Katy Hurt, Clara Bond, Elles Bailey, Philippa Hanna, and Iona Fyfe – reflecting the different styles that make up this thing we call Country Music. I look forward to sharing my heart for independent musicians and supporting them through my writing. (twitter.com/lostinbluejazz1)