Jennifer Nettles calls for 'equal play' for women in country music with CMAs red carpet look

Raechal Shewfelt
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Without ever saying a word, Jennifer Nettles made quite a statement on the red carpet for the Country Music Association Awards 2019.

The Sugarland singer, who has herself been recognized at the CMAs in the past, wore a white suit with a hot pink train that read, “Play Our F****n Records. Please and Thank You,” to protest the lack of female voices heard on country radio. The back featured the words, “Equal Play.”

Jennifer Nettles makes a statement on the red carpet before the 53rd annual CMA Awards at Music City Center on Nov. 13 in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo: John Shearer/WireImage,)

Two reports released earlier this year confirmed the gender bias on the airwaves and whipped up media attention. An academic analysis, “Gender Representation on Country Format Radio: A Study of Published Reports from 2000-2018,” conducted by Dr. Jada Watson, of the University of Ottawa, and the Women of Music Action Network, found that, between 2002 and 2018, women were played significantly less than men. In 2018, for instance, females were behind just 11.3 percent of the year’s most played songs, according to the report. Furthermore, Watson found that the ratio of men to women on the radio last year was 9.7 to 1.

Singer Jennifer Nettles said a lot with her wardrobe choice on the CMA Awards red carpet on Nov. 13 in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo: John Shearer/WireImage)

In February, Reba McEntire commented on the issue when only males were nominated for the top award at the Academy of Country Music Awards she was scheduled to host. Even Kacey Musgraves, who took home the Album of the Year award at the multi-genre Grammys, didn’t get a nod.

Jennifer Nettles's jacket reads, "Equal Play," at the CMA Awards 2019. (Photo: John Shearer/WireImage)

“It doesn’t make me very happy because we’ve got some very talented women out there who are working their butts off,” she told the Tennessean. “I’m missing my girlfriends on this list.”

As for Nettles, her Christian Siriano-designed look kicked off the conversation of women in the genre at an event meant to celebrate them.

Three women — McEntire, Dolly Parton and Carrie Underwood — hosted the show. A group of 14 women, including Nettles, Tanya Tucker and Martina McBride, opened the show with a medley of iconic songs by female country artists.

Before she took the stage, Nettles said she hoped to spark real change with her wardrobe choice.

“People do want to hear women’s stories,” she told the Tennessean. “It’s a fallacy to say that they’re going to turn the channel.”

The singer received mostly rave reviews on social media.

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