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Reba McEntire Says Things Are Still ‘Not Equal’ For Women in Country Music

Reba McEntire Argues Things Are Not Equal For Women in Country Music
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Reba McEntire has seen country music evolve greatly over her nearly 50-year career, but when it comes to treating women equally, she said there’s still a long way to go.

McEntire, 69, signed her first recording contract with Mercury Records in 1975, which is why she’s the utmost authority to speak on how the industry inadequately continues to treat her peers.

“It might be getting better, but it’s not equal yet,” McEntire recently told the Associated Press. “We’re all always fighting for that. Always vying for that airtime, streaming, radio. Just vying for attention.”

The Country Music Hall of Famer said she’s motivated to keep up the fight because she  learned important lessons from the trailblazers that came before her.

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“Just the same way that Dolly [Parton], Loretta [Lynn], Tammy [Wynette] and Barbara [Mandrell] did,” McEntire explained. “We got out there and we found the best songs we possibly could find. If the guys were doing one show, we tried to do three shows.”

She continued, “We worked harder. We knew that we had to work harder. We didn’t bitch about it. We didn’t complain. We just did the work.”

To understand the current inequality in country music, you don’t need to look any further than the Billboard charts.

Reba McEntire Argues Things Are Not Equal For Women in Country Music
Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

Before Beyoncé made history by becoming the first Black woman to top the Hot Country Songs chart in February, a woman hadn’t ascended to No. 1 on the chart since Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well (Taylor’s Version)” in November 2021.

On the topic of Beyoncé, who released her country album Cowboy Carter in March, McEntire expressed optimism that the “Texas Hold ‘Em” singer embracing the genre will lead to more diversity in country music.

“A great singer is a great singer,” McEntire said. “It shouldn’t matter what color you are. Absolutely not.”

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In fact, McEntire said you just need to take a look at her fanbase to show that, however slowly, progress might be coming.

“I do have a lot of people of color at my concerts,” she acknowledged. “I’m very tickled about that. All I can say is, ‘Please join us, please come all. We’ll welcome you.’”

McEntire is currently gearing up to host the 59th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, which stream live on Prime Video Thursday, May 16 at 8 p.m. ET.

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