Yeah, Country Women Made Great Music in 2018 — and the Grammy Awards Took Notice
Nominees for the 2019 Grammy Awards were announced on Friday morning (Dec. 7) -- and in the same week in which there are no women in the Top 20 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, country music's female artists made a strong showing in the Grammys nominees list.
In many of the country- and Americana-specific categories, women are three of the five nominees. And in the four "general field" categories -- Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist -- women (and Luke Combs) are representing the genres. It's an encouraging trend, of course -- proof that female artists are making great art, even if radio isn't playing it -- but it wasn't intentional.
"I'm certainly aware of that conversation [about women in country music], and I find it interesting, and the whole situation a little disturbing, sometimes, in terms of country radio and the issues that women in country music are facing these days," Bill Freimuth, the Recording Academy's head of awards, tells The Boot. "Bottom line, as far as we're concerned, I think that our voters listen to the music with less bias in mind, and really just felt that several of the female country artists this year just made really fantastic records. And so they voted for them without thinking about whether or not [they are] getting radio play or any of those other factors."
In recent years, the Recording Academy has come under scrutiny, as some members of the music industry felt that women and people of color, specifically in light of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, were underrepresented. Comments made by Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow and Grammy Awards telecast producer Ken Ehrlich after the 2018 Grammy Awards that were dismissive of women in music intensified the outcry.
To that end, earlier in 2018, the Recording Academy assembled a task force focused on diversity and inclusion, its members examining the issues affecting women, people of color and other minority groups in the music industry. For the 2019 Grammys, the Recording Academy also expanded the field of nominees in its all-genre general field categories from five to eight.
"I think it's easy to look at this year's nominations versus last year's and say that we've voted in a more diverse crowd, and that's great, and we're all very happy about that. But really, the bottom line is that women just happened to make a terrific number of great recordings this year," Freimuth says. "We encourage people not to vote on race or gender or age or region ... just on the quality of the music."
The 2019 Grammy Awards will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 10. The televised ceremony will begin at 8PM ET on CBS; the pre-telecast Premiere Ceremony will be available to stream online earlier in the evening. Further details, including a list of performers, will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Boot will be staying up late covering the most buzzed-about country winners, fashion and moments at the 2019 Grammy Awards. Readers can watch along with us by checking back to TheBoot.com for the latest Grammys headlines, liking The Boot on Facebook and following The Boot on Twitter.
Meet Country + Americana's 2019 Grammy Awards General Field Nominees