Finally, a male artist is speaking up regarding the #SaladGate controversy, and it's none other than Vince Gill, who says he's been incredibly inspired by his female peers over the years.

“That's one of the greatest tragedies in this stretch of life for me,” Gill tells the Houston Press of the absence of female artists on country radio. “Because I've been inspired as much or more by women artists, equally, than I have as men. So if there's only a couple that are getting the opportunity to really knock it out of the park at radio, then you just go, 'What about Patsy Cline / Kitty Wells / Tammy Wynette / Loretta Lynn?’

“I could go on and on and on and on and name you about 50 great female artists,” Gill continues. “And I don't know why that is. To me, they're making much more ... interesting records. They're saying more things I'd prefer to hear, lyrically and song-wise, and that's compelling."

Gill isn't just saying these things, either; he's acting on his words, too. He produced Ashley Monroe's new album and raves about her talent.

"This Ashley Monroe kid, she writes songs like she's 80 years old," Gill says. "It's remarkable, and it's not dumbing it down. It's not going for the lowest common denominator. It's so refreshing, you know?"

Even if he didn't have anything to do with her album, Gill tells that he would still be a "huge fan of that kid."

"I love what she does ... She writes great songs and sings like a bird — that's all I ever have had much interest in musically, is that — so she epitomizes what I try to be and what I like and what I'm most drawn to," he continues. "It was a pleasure making a record with her. Her songs are so good, and she sings so good that, well, I'll just get out of the way."

Coming from an artist who's won a plethora of Grammys and is a Country Music Hall of Famer, that's a huge compliment. But, as a "tomato" (aka, a woman) in the country music industry, Monroe hasn't been heard as much as her male counterparts. Gill wants to see that change.

"More than anything, I'm just rooting for her to really hit a lick and be successful because I think our music would be a lot better off if she was heard," he says. "There's others in our country music world that [are] just not that inspiring these days, and to me, she is something that is -- that hearkens back to how great Dolly Parton is and how great Loretta Lynn is and all those people who wrote some great songs and sang like angels.

"I just think that the female side of our world is just not broad enough as it should be," Gill adds. "There's just a handful of females out there that are really having a huge presence in the industry, especially in radio, and then you look at the history of the contributions — I probably can name you as many women that have been inspiring to me as men — it kills me that they're not out at the forefront like I think they deserve to be, all these women making compelling records, writing really great songs, really more interesting than a lot of it."

Gill wrapped up a Vince Gill & Friends Tour this spring, on which he was joined by Monroe, his daughter Jenny Gill and Charlie Worsham. Monroe's forthcoming record, The Blade, is set for release on July 24 on Warner Bros. Nashville.

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