The Women of Americana: A Column By Hannah Jo Lally
Festering under the skin of the hearty Americana & country music scene of 2019, lays a group of women who are fed up with playing second fiddle to an industry that needs them. As the tides begin to inevitably turn, there is an astounding need for coverage; (The) Oklahoma Reviews has decidedly left me at the helm of a monthly column about women in the industry, for women in the industry, & by women in the industry.
I grew up listening to Americana without ever hearing the term “Americana.” From a fairly young age, I remember listening to the likes of Allison Krauss, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Patty Griffin & so on, always singing along & always wondering why I would never hear their songs on the radio, unless of course singing a duet with a much more successful male counterpart. Thanks to an older sister—who is also a music enthusiast—my ears were constantly full of genuinely good music, which eventually influenced who I have become as an artist & as a fan. Several years ago, while writing for a different music-related website, I dug deeper & found that women were not only lacking the media coverage or airplay they deserve, but they were also being discriminated against purely based on gender. I’ve been keeping a finger on the pulse of the scene ever since.
Five years later, women are gaining more ground than ever. This year’s Americana Award’s nominees are solid proof of that, particularly the “Artist of the Year” category which includes ALL women. More & more sources are covering female artists, despite the few who are still refusing to write about or promote women; not to mention the huge Grammy wins & nominations for gals like Brandi Carlile & Kacey Musgraves. Although it’s no surprise that women face a harsher path to success in the music industry, as historically women have faced a gender gap for centuries. It *is* surprising in this day & age that there is still such a broad gap. Women are still propositioned. They’re still offered recording deals or co-writing credits in return for sexual favors. Women are still being put down simply because of their gender. This has to stop. My hope is that it will someday & I hope to be one of the many voices to bring change to the industry.
In the coming months, I plan to cover a wide array of topics related to the women of the Americana music industry. Let this column be a conversation starter for the plight of the female musician. Let this column give you insight in to what really goes on behind closed doors. Let this column be a hopeful foothold towards reaching that glass ceiling. Most of all enjoy it with an open mind & help close the gap for good.