Country Universe writer and founder of The Musical Divide Zack Kephart continues his deep dive into the history of Modern Country Music:
Historians argue it was around this time that, because of well-scrubbed performances and radio consolidation, the genre suffered from “sound-alike syndrome.” Indeed, country album sales declined about 20 percent in 1996. The women of country music hadn’t received the memo about the genre’s demise, though. Between 1994 and 1997, album sales by female country artists more than doubled. In 1998, 52 percent of Billboard number-one country hits were performed by women. In 1995, country music women began performing together in package shows, starting with Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, and Carlene Carter. Then Trisha Yearwood, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Kim Richey. Lacy J. Dalton, Juice Newtown and Janie Fricke, too, as “Ladies of the ‘80s,” a nod to K.T. Oslin’s breakthrough hit, “’80s Ladies.” Martina McBride even spearheaded a Girls Night Out country tour in 2001 with Reba McEntire, Jamie O’ Neal, Sara Evans, and Carolyn Dawn Johnson. By far the biggest female success story, though, was Shania Twain, as well another one of her contemporaries who received the same criticisms she did as her star rose.
Women shine in this section, until they don’t. Many of my favorite years are included in this section, but the ending will always bum me out.
But what doesn’t bum me out is Zack’s excellent writing. Head on over and enjoy Part Two!