The story of how three prominent women Country musicians broke though in a male dominated genre.
Updated: Mar 24
Her Country - How the Women of Country Music Became the Success They Were Never Supposed to Be - by Marissa Moss
Marissa Moss is a Nashville insider, who has written for NPR, Rolling Stone, Billboard and others. Her access and the the trust she has with the artists make this an engaging read whether or not you like country music. Looking at the stories of three prominent country artists - Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton, and Kacey Musgraves, Moss examines the rise of each of them, and the rampant gender discrimination and sexism that each had to face on their way up the charts. It's impossible not to marvel at the determination the women showed by putting in their dues at Texas Roadhouses, pushing back against their own labels, and avoiding sleazy country radio DJs who wielded too much power in that format. The point of the book is that eventually all three women were done playing by the rules of a system stacked against them, and they found their own playbook.
This book is worth your time for the stories of the songs alone. Moss walks the reader through how Maren Morris, who hadn't strayed outside country music, had to audition for the vocal part of the EDM producer Zedd's "The Middle", beating out Bebe Rexha and Demi Lovato. And when the song exploded to over a billion streams on Spotify, counrty music stalwarts were up in arms that Maren had released a pop song and were outraged. True artists conquer genres, and bend them to their creative will.
It would be nice to think that shedding such light on a sensitive topic would bring in change in the industry. But change moves slowly, especially in Country music. This week following Love Rising - a Nashville LGBTQ benefit concert to protest gender laws in Tennessee, Maren was heavily criticized online for saying that she introduced her son to some drag queens and that Tennessee should "fucking arrest me". For some, the fight never ends.
If you want a book with a strong message and great insider stories about the power of songs to express what the artists are feeling, this is a terrific read.