Newly crowned ACM Songwriter of the Year Shane McAnally had reason to celebrate at Sunday night's (April 7) awards show, but, backstage, he was focused on the women of the genre. The standout tunesmith is a frequent collaborator of many of country music's leading women -- including 2019 ACM Female Artist of the Year Kacey Musgraves -- and is less than please to see them not always getting their due.

“How has this happened? I really don’t know," McAnally mused to The Boot and other media outlets backstage. "You look back at the stuff that I grew up with, and females dominated. And when I was really influenced in my 20s, that was the era of, the Top 5 artists were females.”

To McAnally, the proof of the power and popularity of the genre's women is evident in Nicolle Galyon's Song of the Year victory, as part of the team of writers behind Dan + Shay's massive hit "Tequila." That win, he says, was validation that women "are here and ... writing songs that compete with all of these boys," but McAnally was still disappointed to not see her nominated in the Songwriter of the Year category.

“Girls just have a way of cutting to the truth," he says. "I enjoy writing with females the most because they are just so honest, and I have written with some of the best."

McAnally admits that the stories about publishing companies, record labels and other industry organizations turning women away because they already have a female artist or writer on their roster stun him. “I don’t really know what I can do personally," he says, "other than just continue to champion these incredible artists, these incredible songwriters.”

He adds, "I know what I want to listen to on the radio, and it is an equal amount of females and males. Well, for me personally, I want to hear more females."

The Songwriter of the Year category at the 2019 ACM Awards contained no female nominees. There were also no women nominated in the Entertainer of the Year category.

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