Singer and actress Reba McEntire used her opening monologue at the Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday night to call out the glaring lack of women nominated for the show’s biggest honor, Entertainer of the Year.
“Do you know it snowed in Las Vegas just a few weeks ago?” the country music icon said at the start of the ceremony, which was held in the city. “Yeah, it was so cold, it froze us women out of Entertainer of the Year.”
“But you know what? That didn’t bother Kacey Musgraves, because she’s been too busy carrying all her Grammys around,” McEntire joked. Musgraves’ albums have topped the country music charts, and she dominated the 2019 Grammy Awards, even winning Album of the Year.
Musgraves, who has long advocated for more diversity and inclusion in country music, also spoke out Sunday, discussing the difficulties that women face in gaining recognition.
“I would just say that if you do have a unique sound, or a unique style, or perspective to offer, you’re going to be told that it’s too different, or that it’s not going to work, or it doesn’t make sense,” she told reporters backstage after winning Female Artist of the Year and Album of the Year. “And that’s, truthfully, just the industry being lazy.”
She added later that gender equity in country music “feels like it shouldn’t really have to be a conversation at all.” She also said she hopes the industry will “turn toward other avenues of equality, such as including more country artists and songwriters of color, and our friends in the LGBTQ community.”
Musgraves told HuffPost last year that she was “dreaming of the day when we have a gay country music icon, that is loud and proud and really, like, a hero for country music fans, especially in these small towns where [LGBTQ people] are terrified of being themselves and feel like they have to hide.”
Other female country stars, including Tricia Yearwood and Carrie Underwood, have similarly blasted the industry, saying female artists often have to climb a steeper hill in order to get their music on the airwaves.
“Women are still absolutely getting the raw end of the deal at country radio,” Yearwood said earlier this year, blaming the industry’s “old, antiquated ways of thinking.”
“I want to go, ‘Who says that’s the way it is?’” she added. “Like, you don’t play two female artists back-to-back and you make sure you play four guys before you play a girl? Like, whose rules are those?”