Women have been an integral part of the country music world for as long as the genre has existed. And CMT believes it’s time to showcase the talents of those women who are a part of the new generation of female artists through its NEXT WOMEN OF COUNTRY initiative.
So, in the midst of CMA Awards week, CMT executives and select industry members came together at an event to recognize these rising female artists who are making their mark on country music.
The crowd gathered at The Farm House, a new restaurant located in the hip SoBro district of Nashville, Tenn., at 11 a.m., where cocktails and hors d’oeuvre were served.
Soon after arriving, the crowd was greeted by Leslie Fram, CMT senior vice president of music strategy. Fram, who has spearheaded the NEXT WOMEN initiative, gave some background information on the franchise and introduced special guest Grady Smith, Entertainment Weekly’s country music beat writer.
Smith lauded the strides the country music industry has taken to ensure proper recognition of female artists and stressed how important women viewers and listeners are in the media world.
Also covering the box office for Entertainment Weekly, Smith noted that movie viewership leans toward women—including the most action-packed superhero flicks.
And this logic also applies to the music industry, he said.
“Men want to hear more women and women want to hear more women on the radio,” Smith said.
Label executives who attended and spoke on the success of their climbing female artists included Scott Borchetta, Big Machine Label Group president and CEO; John Esposito, Warner Music Nashville president and CEO; John Grady, I.R.S. Nashville president; and Mike Dungan, UMG Nashville chairman and CEO.
Rising country stars Lauren Alaina, Ashley Monroe, Danielle Bradbery, and Holly Williams each performed for the select industry crowd.
Alaina performed a powerful new song called “Same Day, Different Bottle,” which showcased the “American Idol” alum’s vocal range.
“Lauren Alaina can rival top female voices in the industry,” Dungan said as he introduced her.
After Alaina, Monroe took to the stage to perform “Like a Rose,” the titular single from her latest album. Striking Matches’ Sarah Zimmermann accompanied her.
Monroe, who has received much acclaim over the past year, is currently touring alongside Hunter Hayes on CMT on Tour.
“The female artists that have received the most critical press in this town are Kacey Musgraves and Ashley Monroe,” Grady said. “And both got their start on CMT.”
The four-performer set concluded with performances from Holly Williams, who sang “Highway,” and Danielle Bradbery with “Heart of Dixie.”
During the event, CMT announced Bradbery would be the newest addition to its NEXT WOMEN franchise. Bradbery is joining 15 other females whom CMT promotes on-air and online throughout the year.
Borchetta, label head for Bradbery, said there is a lot of opportunity for female voices in today’s country music world and that his label is very welcoming to the new wave of country’s women.
“We’ve never been afraid to take on the dragons with any female artist,” Borchetta said.
Several other members of CMT’s NEXT WOMEN OF COUNTRY franchise attended the event, including Cassadee Pope, Jana Kramer, Kacey Musgraves, Kelleigh Bannen, Kristen Kelly, Angaleena Presley, Rachel Farley, Rose Falcon and Sarah Darling.