Women have long been a mainstay of country music, but they've been all but pushed out of radio play--and elbowed aside in other spaces--over the last 20 years. In her debut, Her Country, veteran music journalist Marissa R. Moss calls out the mostly white, straight and male institution of Nashville country music for its blatant bias, and she charts the gutsy trajectories of female artists blazing a new path for themselves and other women in the genre.
Moss begins her narrative in 1999 when Shania Twain, the Chicks (then known as the Dixie Chicks) and other female artists were riding high on the country charts. She details the genre's subsequent, deliberate turn away from female stars to all-male "bro country" and recounts the career challenges of artists like Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert and Mickey Guyton, all of whom had to make a way for themselves outside of the Nashville tradition. Moss unapologetically exposes the genre's baked-in sexism and racism, and highlights the courage and creativity of female singers, songwriters, producers and executives. She argues brilliantly for more diversity on country radio, more women in every part of the industry and more creative control for female artists. Her interview subjects share the grit required to make it in an industry that often shuts them out, and Moss herself celebrates their blatant refusal to "shut up and sing."
Her Country is a richly layered history of the last two decades in country music and a clarion call for the genre--and its stakeholders--to do better. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams