It’s 2019, and women are STILL not welcome at the Academy of Country Music Awards for Entertainer of the Year

This is getting ridiculous. It has been less than two weeks since Kacey Musgraves performed twice at the Grammys and won Album of the Year for “Golden Hour,” which is only the fifth country album ever to do so. But that still wasn’t enough to qualify her as one of the top five Entertainer of the Year nominees at the Academy of Country Music Awards. For the second year in a row, no woman at all qualified for a nomination. Sadly, this is par for the course for the ACMs, where being a solo male artist is practically a prerequisite for consideration.

The nominees for 2019 are almost identical to last year’s contenders. Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban are back. The only difference is Kenny Chesney, who replaces last year’s nominee Garth Brooks in the lineup. This is Chesney’s first bid since 2012, but he’s a four-time winner, having claimed this award consecutively from 2005-2008. Aldean is the defending champ, having won for the last three years in a row.

What’s especially unusual in the Entertainer of the Year category is how few overall nominations most of those contenders have. Aldean, Bryan and Chesney are all considered among the top entertainers even though none of them are even nominated as one of the five best male artists of the year. The only other nomination for both Chesney and Aldean is Musical Event of the Year where both contend for collaborations with other artists: Chesney for “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” with David Lee Murphy, Aldean for “Drowns the Whiskey” with Miranda Lambert.

Meanwhile, Musgraves is nominated for Album of the Year as both an artist and a producer (she’s the only woman in that race) and Song of the Year for “Space Cowboy” as both artist and songwriter (she’s one of only two female artists with a song in that race). “Golden Hour” was just considered by the music industry to be the best album in any genre, but that still wasn’t enough to qualify her as one of country music’s best entertainers.

The last woman nominated for Entertainer of the Year was Carrie Underwood in 2017. She had won that award twice before (2009-2010), but she was the only woman represented in the 2017 lineup, which is typical. Since 2000 there has only been one year when women were in the majority: 2000, when Dixie ChicksFaith Hill and Shania Twain were all up for the top award. Since then there have never been more than two female nominees in any given year, and there was a significant span when there were hardly any female nominees at all: from 2002 to 2008 there was remarkably only one nomination for a female act (Dixie Chicks in 2003).

So it’s no wonder that over the 48 years that the ACM Awards have given out Entertainer of the Year, female artists have only won 10 times:

1976 — Loretta Lynn
1978 — Dolly Parton
1981 — Barbara Mandrell
1995 — Reba McEntire
2000 — Shania Twain
2001 — Dixie Chicks
2009 — Carrie Underwood
2010 — Carrie Underwood
2011 — Taylor Swift
2012 — Taylor Swift

The consecutive wins for Underwood and Swift came over the eight-year period when the winner in that category was decided by fans, so it’s hard to say whether those races would still have had the same result if they had been decided by the academy. It seems like country music fans appreciate female artists better than the country music industry does. Maybe it’s time for this academy to finally “step up.”

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