Women in Country Have Faced Radio Discrimination for Decades, as Lari White Pointed Out
Country music star Lari White passed away on Jan. 23, 2018, at the age of 52, after revealing last November that she had been diagnosed with cancer. Before her death, the "Now I Know" singer said that female country artists have always had to fight harder for radio airtime than their male counterparts. This bias was prevalent at the beginning of White's career in the early '90s, and is something women in country music still face today.
At the beginning of her music career, White tells Rolling Stone, it was a struggle to get her music on radio stations if there were any other female artists who were already on the air. Despite the fact that the '90s produced some of the most renowned female stars in the genre, there was only room for one at a time on the radio.
"You wouldn't believe how many program directors looked me in the eye and said, 'You know I'd love to hear your music, but we've already got a female act that we're playing,'" White shared. "It didn't take very long for me to feel like the country radio box was a little too small."
But rather than becoming embroiled in cut-throat competition, White said that women in country music at the time rallied together.
"There were a lot of great women making a lot of great music out of Nashville in the country genre at that time. We all kind of carried each other along," she shares of her experience. The star enlisted the help of fellow female country artists Trisha Yearwood and Shelby Lynne to recreate the 1934 Cole Porter classic "Don't Fence Me In" as an answer to the discrimination she felt then.
White pushed through those fences with hits like "Now I Know" and "That's My Baby;" her 1993 album Wishes was certified gold. She earned three Grammy Awards for her gospel recordings in the late 1990s.
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