CMA Awards: No girls allowed

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The He-Man Woman-Hater’s Club met in Nashville this week to dole out the Country Music Association Awards. Accordingly, all of the awards, save for “Female Vocalist of the Year,” went to the boys.

OK, I’m exaggerating a little. But not that much. Four awards went to three women, one of whom was part of a male-female duo. Carrie Underwood was named Female Vocalist of the Year, and her single, “Before He Cheats,” won Single of the Year.

The New Horizon award went to 17-year-old Taylor Swift, who tearfully exclaimed, “This is definitely the highlight of my senior year [in high school].”

And a Kristen Hall-less Sugarland took home Vocal Duo of the Year.

Of course, if Kristen Hall had not left the band in 2006, Sugarland would not have been eligible for Vocal Duo of the Year. And there’s no Vocal Trio of the Year award. But, still, if only a few women could win, it would have been a treat for me if one of them had been a lesbian.

I listen to a fair amount of country music. (Between the showtunes and the country music, my girlfriend exercised a great deal of forbearance when we began dating.) I listen to plenty of male country artists — even ones whose politics I find abhorrent. But my favorites are the women — Dolly, Reba, the Dixie Chicks. (And I could gaze at Terri Clark — in addition to listening to her — for hours.)

However, it seems I’m not the only person dismayed by the lack of women nominated. In a recent poll, 74 percent of respondents thought a woman should have been nominated for the top Entertainer of the Year award. Amazingly, the Dixie Chicks were the last female band or performer to be nominated for Entertainer of the Year. And that was back in 2001.

The main explanation given for the lack of women nominees is that a lot of weight is given to ticket sales, and male performers tour more than women do. (It seems that Entertainer of the Year, Kenny Chesney, tours almost constantly.) But that’s not entirely convincing because Faith Hill had an incredibly successful tour with husband Tim McGraw, yet received no nomination.

There’s another theory out there.

“The country music audience used to be split 51 to 49 female to male, and now it’s skewing about 57 percent female. There’s a theory that women really like to see male artists.”

Although I’m loath to admit it that women are the problem, this may have some credence. I’ve been noticing lately how different the most popular male country artists (e.g., Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Vince Gill, Kenny Chesney) are from the male country artists of my youth (Willie, Waylon and the rest of the Outlaws). The new breed seem like grown up boy-band members: all high voices and pretty faces. I’ve been listening to Reba’s Duets album lately and have noticed that there’s nary a deep voice among the men with whom she sings. (She does, however, sing a duet with Carole King! And that makes me very happy.) The bottom line is that I’d be a little surprised if it were the men who were making some of these artists stars.

Any other country music fans out there? Thoughts?

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