Garth Brooks Speaks Up About Gender Inequality in Country Music
Per an interview with the BBC, Garth Brooks, one of the highest-grossing men in popular music history, sees the results of recent studies about gender inequality when he looks at the career of his wife, fellow hit-maker Trisha Yearwood.
"(She) works a thousand times harder than me to get a tenth as much as I do out of this business," Brooks says. "She doesn't complain. She just rolls up her sleeves and goes to work."
Per a study titled Gender Representation on Country Format Radio: A Study of Published Reports from 2000-2018, conducted by Dr. Jada E. Watson for WOMAN Nashville, someone as established and prolific as Yearwood faces an uphill battle compared to any of her male counterparts.
The study shows that the most-spun woman in that time span, Carrie Underwood, received half as much airplay as the top overall artist, Kenny Chesney. In fact, the Top 10 country artists with the most airplay in that time frame are all men, with Underwood, the first woman on the most-played list, sitting at No. 11.
Per the study, the deck gets stacked even higher against Yearwood and other women over the age of 40. The average age of the eight best-performing men is 42 years old; at just 29, Thomas Rhett challenges the success of 51-year-old Keith Urban, 51-year-old Kenny Chesney and such 40-somethings as Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean.
The average age of the eight top-performing women on the charts, meanwhile, is 29 years old -- and the women challenging the status quo were typically under 30 years old. 35-year-old Miranda Lambert and 36-year-old Carrie Underwood are the oldest consistently charting female stars.
Keep in mind that, among others, Shania Twain -- once a lock for airplay -- returned, at age 52, with the 2017 album Now, so it’s not as though women over 40 stop making commercially viable music. Following its release, Now hit No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, as well as on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart. However, that album's lead single, "Life's About to Get Good" -- a track that, out of the project's four singles, climbed the highest -- only reached the No. 36 spot on Billboard Country Airplay.
Brooks adds that the lack of women on the radio and among the genre's top earners rids audiences of broad, earnest perspectives absent from his catalog and the music of his male counterparts.
"We need that because guys... we open doors with our heads," Brooks says. "We're not the smartest things on the planet. Females bring a whole different approach to how we see things. A good marriage between the male voice and the female voice, and country music, would be a true representation of what the people who listen to country music really are."
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