It’s a tale as old as time: Maren Morris leads the 2019 Country Music Association Awards with six nominations, but she’s not up for Entertainer of the Year. That’s not surprising, though. These days being a man is practically a prerequisite for winning that award. Women are so drastically underrepresented in that category that I also addressed this disparity last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.
There is one woman nominated for the top prize this year: Carrie Underwood. She has never won the award, and despite being one of the biggest crossover country stars of the 21st century, her only other nomination in the top category was in 2016. This year she’s nominated against four solo male artists: six-time winner Garth Brooks, two-time winner Keith Urban, four-time nominee Chris Stapleton and three-time nominee Eric Church.
Only seven female acts have ever won Entertainer of the Year in more than a half-century of the CMA Awards: Loretta Lynn (1972), Dolly Parton (1978), Barbara Mandrell (1980-1981), Reba McEntire (1986), Shania Twain (1999), Dixie Chicks (2000), and Taylor Swift (2009, 2011). Mandrell and Swift are the only women to have won twice. And the Dixie Chicks and Swift are the only female winners so far in the 21st century.
Since 2000 there have been 100 nominations for Entertainer of the Year, but only 13 of those went to female artists, including the mixed-gender group Lady Antebellum, nominated just once in the top race (2010).
Women are underrepresented across the board at the 2019 CMAs. Only two women are up for Album of the Year (Underwood for “Cry Pretty” and Morris for “GIRL”). Two have songs nominated for Song of the Year (Morris’s “GIRL” and Kacey Musgraves‘s “Rainbow”). And Morris’s “GIRL” is the only song by a female artist nominated for Single of the Year.
Musical Event of the Year honors special collaborations, but of the five nominated songs featuring the work of 10 artists, only 2 are women (Morris for “All My Favorite People” with Brothers Osborne, Lindsay Ell for “What Happens in a Small Town” with Brantley Gilbert).
So why does the Country Music Association still have such a blind spot when it comes to women?