LAS VEGAS, NV (CBSDFW.COM) — Academy of Country Music Awards host Reba McEntire and ACM Album of the Year winner Kacey Musgraves were asked about the nature of country music today and if they think there are some demographic challenges facing the genre.
McEntire was asked what she thinks about the fact that only three female artists won awards during the celebration on Sunday night.
“Oh we’re just gearing up,” responded McEntire. “I know that it has been a little dry spell for the women,” she continued. “After the Grammys and tonight you saw some really powerful woman performing.”
McEntire said that she is very excited about the careers of Ashly McBride and Kacey Musgraves. “It’s going to be a very interesting 2019,” said McEntire. “I think it will be different next year.”
Musgraves – who said two of her biggest influences were Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton – was asked about McEntire’s comments and if she agreed there would be changes in the coming year.
“I think that the antennas are definitely up and listening when it comes to more equality in this genre,” said Musgraves. “I hope to see it turn in some other ways towards other avenues of equality such as including more country artists and songwriters of color; or our friends from the LGBTQ community,” Musgraves continued. “I think there’s a lot more work to be done in the equality department than just gender…that’s a blip on the scale. ”
McEntire was asked about the recent controversy Billboard faced after – at first – pulling rapper Lil Nas X’s song “Old Town Road” from its country music charts for not being country enough.
According to CBS News, Billboard told Rolling Stone that “Old Town Road” did not “currently merit inclusion” on the chart because “it does not embrace enough elements of today’s country music to chart in its current version.”
While McEntire was not familiar with the controversy, she seemed surprised to hear about it. “Can that be country?” she was asked. “Hasn’t it already?” replied McEntire. “Or did I miss something somewhere along the way?”
“Country music has always been very diversified,” McEntire said also referring to the earlier conversation.
“One time it will be very traditional, then it will be very contemporary,” she continued. “Then it will all go with the girls, then it will all go with the boys… and then everything changes up. It’s cyclical.”
Songwriter Nicolle Galyon seemed to echo McEntire. Galyon along with Dan Smyers and Jordan Reynolds won an award for song of the year for the Dan + Shay hit song “Tequila.”
“I grew up a super-fan of country music in the 90’s… it was a waste of time to even count how many women there [were] because so many women were having success,” Galyon said. “And that is probably one of the only reasons why I’m standing here.”
McEntire said it’s about song quality and how it affects the listener. “The women know we have got to step up; we know we have got to be more particular about the music,” she said.
“We have got to find the songs that touch people’s hearts,” said McEntire. “That’s how I have maintained a forty-three year career because if I find a song that touches my heart, hopefully — if I sing it — it’ll touch your heart,” she continued.
“If you have no reaction or feeling from anything I do, I might as well not be up here taking your time,” said McEntire. “That’s what we have got to work on to make country music stronger.”