Kalie Shorr Is Preaching Positivity in Fight for Women in Country Music
Kalie Shorr was fighting for gender equality in country music when fighting for gender equality in country music wasn't cool. Song Suffragettes will celebrate a four-year anniversary this summer, and the all-female collective has been at the heart of the ongoing conversation.
Heart is what the conversation needs more of, Shorr insists. At present there are just five female solo artists within the Top 50 of the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Few females are chosen to headline major festivals. There have been several sexual harassment scandals. Last week Cam took to Twitter to roast the iHeartRadio Awards for having no females in the Artist of the Year category.
"I think we talk so much about the negative examples … but I think so much needs to be said for the people that fight for it," Shorr says, citing numerous executives, journalists and people in power positions in Nashville. In recent weeks, months and years, radio and streaming stations have been put on blast for large scale imbalance but Shorr points out that services like Apple Music have gone out of their way to balance playlists. It's appreciated. It's necessary.
"Just keep it in the back of your mind," the "Two Hands" singer adds. "The Grammys really bothered me this year with Lorde not performing, because it’s like, you need to be aware enough of what’s happening around you to look and say, ‘How can we help?’ Not just ignore it, you know?"
Female Trailblazers? Kalie Shorr Is Part of a Distinguished Group
Shorr, who just released her Awake EP, talked to Taste of Country during Country Radio Seminar as Lauren Alaina rehearsed for the annual New Faces show next door. Alaina's music made it difficult to hear someone sitting just a few feet away, but Shorr's only remark on this less-than-ideal arrangement was about how dang good her contemporary sounded through the walls. As one of the original artists of the weekly Song Suffragettes singer-songwriter performances in Nashville, she's shared a stage with up-and-comers like Alaina, as well as Mickey Guyton, Carly Pearce, Kelsea Ballerini and many more. The movement is starting to pay off in tangible ways, but it's the more subtle changes Shorr appreciates.
“I think the coolest change I’ve witnessed is just how the girls are treating each other,” she says, mentioning the frequent girls nights and massive group chats that have started within the industry. In the beginning, a spirit of competition would occasionally poison what the collective was about. That's not the case any longer.
“We were all talking last week about who has the best system of traveling with your makeup and Carly Pearce was like, ‘I got this on Amazon’ so now we all have the same makeup case," Shorr says, laughing at the situation and herself. "It’s ridiculous but it’s so helpful."
The "Fight Like a Girl" hitmaker isn't so pollyanna that she doesn't recognize the challenges and obstacles women face, and she's not suggesting they be ignored. Prior to this point she has lived a blessed-by-hard-scrabble-life that has included parents divorcing, a mother battling cancer, her own eating disorder and yes, sexual harassment. But Shorr moved from Portland, Maine, to Nashville on her own with very little money so she could chase a dream, a dream that she is living out as a successful independent artist.
Yes, Kalie Shorr is making it.
“It sucks, it sucks so bad to have random men commenting on your Instagram, calling you a whore because you wear too much makeup," she admits, "But, looking out at the audience and seeing a 5-year-old girl singing 'Fight Like a Girl' in a Kalie Shorr shirt, that’s amazing. So you have to mentally separate those two types of people and hold on to the good ones.”
The women in country music problem can be the women in country music solution if enough people change their perspective. For her part, Shorr has been taking action. While others were tweeting about the #MeToo and #TimesUp movement she was filming a music video for an original song called "Time's Up." The simple, powerful clip received national attention, just like a similar video for the Song Suffragette cover of Keith Urban's "Female."
Action, not words, will help. Shorr is among those that seem to realize what she's fighting for won't come without a fight, a fight that can't be won 140 or 280 characters at a time.
Want More Kalie Shorr? Check Out Throwback Performance of "Nothin' New"