By Jon Bream
Star Tribune (Minneapolis).
Unless you’re Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert, it’s not easy being a female singer in country music right now.
Bro-country and male voices rule the radio airwaves and the concert scene. But two women making are headway as opening acts for Keith Urban and Alan Jackson on the state fair circuit. Kelsea Ballerini, 21, just became the first female singer in 10 years (since Underwood) to have her debut single reach No. 1 on country chart. Singer-songwriter Brandy Clark, 39, has written two recent No. 1 tunes and won a CMA Award for song of the year but has struggled as an artist. We talked with both women about their climbs up the country charts and how each fits into the current climate of male-dominated country radio.
Q: Why do you think your song “Love Me Like You Mean It” was so successful so fast?
A: I was hoping if people wanted to cruise in their cars with the windows down that it had a good enough beat for that and if people wanted to listen to it, they would hear a message of empowerment and confidence.
Q: How do you think your many months of visiting radio stations factored into the success of the single?
A: The radio tour is the reason that song did so well. Relationships and having connections with people makes you want to root for them and it makes them want to root for you. We did a 21-week radio tour and we saw close to every station and some twice. It was only supposed to be eight weeks but we were just enjoying it and it was going well.
Q: How did you celebrate that song going No. 1 this summer?
A: It was such a huge celebration for everyone involved _ the writers, the producer, my label. It’s all of our first No. 1 at the same time. Honestly, to be a new artist and have a No. 1 is a huge deal. To be a new female artist on an independent label, we really celebrated.