For the first time in more than seven years, there are three female solo artists within the Top 10 of the country radio charts. Maren Morris is joined by newcomers Ingrid Andress and Gabby Barrett for positions within the top echelon of the Billboard Country Airplay chart and the Mediabase country chart this week.
Morris, who had a two-week No. 1 record with “The Bones,” is at No. 9 on the Mediabase chart. Barrett’s debut single “I Hope” is 8th, while the first single from Andress, “More Hearts Than Mine,” is No. 7. Morris’ feat marked the first time a female solo country artist has held the top position for more than a week since Carrie Underwood did it in 2012.
Barrett rises 11-9 on the Billboard chart, up by 15% to 24.1 million audience impressions in the week ending March 15, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data. Andress is No. 10 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, down a spot from last week, while Morris drops to No. 7.
“It’s overdue,” country radio consultant Joel Raab tells Inside Radio. “Nearly one-third of my recommended ‘current’ playlist is represented by women – if you include duets. It’s a trend I hope will continue.”
Billboard notes that the latest Country Airplay chart is the first to boast two women in the Top 10 with solo debut songs, dating to the chart’s January 1990 launch.
“Wow, I feel so blessed to have a top 10 single,” Barrett tells the music industry publication. “I can't thank country radio, my fans and my team enough for believing in me. And, I’m so happy for Ingrid. It’s an exciting time.”
Andress adds, “We’re all part of changing history together, and I can’t wait to see what we accomplish next.”
What’s next is likely long careers and more chart success for the two artists as Variety’s Chris Willman writes that both songs “have been almost universally acclaimed by programmers and cited as strong contenders to get to No. 1.”
The chart success for the current trio of female country artists comes a month after the annual Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, where the gender disparity issue was once again front and center.
“There has been a slow increase not just in the number of current singles by women on the Mediabase airplay reports and weekly charts, but also in the number of spins accorded to songs by women,” Dr. Jada Watson of the University of Ottawa told Variety. Watson has published a number of studies on the issue for SongData. The most recent, “Inequality on Country Radio,” was done in partnership with CMT’s Equal Play campaign and released to coincide with CRS 2020. “This is a truly positive sign and a suggestion that radio is putting more support behind female artists,” she adds.
Raab also believes the tide is turning. “I think programmers are now more open to adding songs from female artists,” he says. “The Ingrid Andress and Gabby Barrett songs are so strong that we'll likely be playing them in our gold libraries after their chart runs.”