On Monday night, Sony Music Nashville and booking agency WME teamed up to present “A Celebration of Women’s History Month,” a night benefitting She Is The Music, a non-profit organization that focuses on increasing the number of women in music and gender equality in the industry. The night’s spotlight artists were Carlton Anderson, Rachel Wammack, Seaforth, Robert Counts, and Hannah Dasher; some of Sony’s newest artists on the roster. And hosting the night were beloved media personalities and journalists, Hunter Kelly and Ashley Eicher, the duo behind the All Our Favorite People Podcast.
WME booking agent, Carrie Murphy, was invited to start off the night by introducing the crowd to what She Is The Music was, and how the organization creates a platform for women to hone their craft and be supported on their journey in the music industry. “Girls can’t be what they can’t see,” shared Murphy.
The night took us on a chronological musical journey through country music’s finest women’s hits through the decades, from the 1960s all the way to 2010. Kelly and Eicher not only hosted the night but provided valuable summarized facts on social issues and the songs’ commercial success in each focused era.
Kicking the night off was Robert Counts, who covered Loretta Lynn’s hit song, “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man,” that was originally recorded in 1965. “This might get weird…I feel weird,” joked Counts before he sang. “[Loretta] taught me a lot about songwriting. She has done a lot for my career [and] is a huge influence.”
Up next they focused on the 1970s, a time period where the feminist movement took place. In fact, because of the inundation of this movement, TIME awarded its “Man of the Year” award to “American Women” in 1975. Covering Dolly Parton’s second single and one of Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” was Rachel Wammack and Seaforth. The soaring harmonies from both acts almost gave “Jolene” a hauntingly different version that’s been never heard before.
The 1980s was a time when women were not getting fair wages, and part of the movement against inequality was Parton’s “9 to 5,” which was featured on the movie of the same title. The movie aptly depicted the social circumstances women were in the and workforce of that era. Hannah Dasher lent her voice to a rocking, feet-tapping cover of it.
Still keeping it in the 80s, Carlton Anderson came up on stage to pay tribute to Barbara Mandrell and her song that became a hit at the height of the urban cowboy craze, or as Kelly jokingly called it, “the early version of bro-country.” Anderson, the most traditional country-leaning act of the night, undeniably shined in his element as he sang Mandrell’s 1981 hit song, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.”
The next half of the night transitioned to the beloved 1990s onwards, and it was that era that saw a promising record number of women elected into congress. Dasher returned on stage to cover Reba’s “You Lie,” with Big Machine Record’s Dan Smalley, who she introduced as “the closest thing to Vince Gill.” Following their performance was Anderson, who came back with his rendition of Patty Loveless’ “You Don’t Know Who I Am.” “I grew up listening to this song. […] When you figure out what it’s really about, it kinda hits you in the chest, and I think that’s the beauty of this genre.”
Perhaps two of the biggest highlights of the night were both from Wammack. The Muscle Shoals, Alabama native shared how several people told her when she first moved to Nashville that she “sounded like Deana Carter when [she] spoke.” Wammack played the keys and sang two of country’s timeless ballads of the 90s: Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” and LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live Without You.” Introducing the latter song, Kelly shared the history of its release, and how two of country’s women, Rimes and Trisha Yearwood, both had released the single at the same time. Unsurprisingly, the 23-year-old really captivated the crowd as soon as she started playing.
One of our 2019 Artists to Watch, Seaforth’s Mitch Thompson and Tom Jordan were back, and gave a refreshing cover of Shania Twain’s 1997 hit, “You’re Still The One.” Again, the duo’s harmonies packed a punch and proved why they’re Nashville’s next biggest Australia transplants in country music.
Closing the nostalgia-filled night was Counts, whose unique and raspy delivery invigorated the wistfulness of Miranda Lambert’s first number one song and her fastest-rising single to date, “The House That Built Me.”
What a night that took everyone a trip down memory lane, visiting decades of iconic hit songs from trail-blazing women in country music! If there’s one thing we’re hoping for after the show, it’s that somehow, these young acts record each of their spins on the songs they covered and share it with the world. One thing’s for certain: Sony’s newest exceptionally-talented class of acts are here to stay.
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