Trisha Yearwood says women are ‘getting the raw end of the deal’ on country radio

Women saw some big wins at the Grammy Awards this year, including the album of the year honor for country singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves. But there are still some glaring omissions in the industry, specifically when it comes to country radio and female artists. 

This week, for example, only three women appear in the top 25 on Billboard’s Hot Country song chart — an indication the genre is still dominated by men. And winning a Grammy doesn’t necessarily transform into radio airplay. 

Trisha Yearwood, for one, is fully aware of how the industry works. She got her start in country music in the early 1990s, and although she has had hits through the years and has appreciated her time on radio, she sees how women are often left off traditional airwaves. In a recent interview at Build Series, she said she thinks “women are still absolutely getting the raw end of the deal at country radio.” She blames it partly on “old, antiquated ways of thinking.”

“I want to go, ‘Who says that’s the way it is?’ Like, you don’t play two female artists back to back and you make sure you play four guys before you play a girl? Like, whose rules are those?” 

Yearwood, though, predicts the tide may soon turn for radio programmers. 

“I think they are about to get a rude awakening, because women are rising up. We’re going to start marching to your radio station, and you’re going to be afraid not to play our records, I think. I would do that march!” she said, imagining what it would look like. “There are 20 angry women in the parking lot. Let’s play some Trisha Yearwood. I feel like it could happen!”

35 PHOTOS
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood through the years
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Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood through the years
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 14: (FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Singers Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood attend the 52nd annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 14, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 14: (FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Singer-songwriters Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood attend the 52nd annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 14, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 27: Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks speak at the 2018 Country Music Hall Of Fame Inductees Announcement at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on March 27, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 31: Garth Brooks, Ira Dean, Trisha Yearwood and Dierks Bentley attend Singer/Songwriter/Comedian. Member of both The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and Country Music Hall of Fame Mel Tillis Memorial at Ryman Auditorium on January 31, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by R. Diamond/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 19: Singer/Songwriter Allie Colleen Brooks (center) Daughter of Garth Brooks and first wife Sandy Brooks poses with her stepmom Singer/Songwriter Trisha Yearwood and dad Singer/Songwriter Garth Brooks after making her Grand Ole Opry debut during Dr. Ralph Stanley Forever: A Special Tribute Concert at Grand Ole Opry House on October 19, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 04: Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood arrive at the 39th Annual Kennedy Center Honors at The Kennedy Center on December 4, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 01: Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood pose for a photo backstage at the 94th Annual National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Ellipse in President� Park on December 1, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
CHRISTMAS IN ROCKEFELLER CENTER -- Pictured: (l-r) Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks rehearse for the 2016 Christmas in Rockefeller Center -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood perform a medley of songs at the 50th Annual Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Harrison McClary
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 02: Singers Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood attend the 50th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 2, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Davis/FilmMagic)
ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood Pre-Concert Press Conference at Honda Center on September 16, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 08: Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood speak during press conference at Yankee Stadium on July 8, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Chance Yeh/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 24: Singer Trisha Yearwood (L) and singer/songwriter Garth Brooks speak during a news conference ahead of the first of their six scheduled shows at T-Mobile Arena on June 24, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mindy Small/FilmMagic)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 04: Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood attend the 49th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 4, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Honoree Garth Brooks (L) and singer Trisha Yearwood attend the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 19: Musicians Trisha Yearwood (L) and Garth Brooks attend the 50th Academy Of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Michael Buckner/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
DALLAS, TX - APRIL 17: Hosts Trisha Yearwood (L) and Garth Brooks perform onstage during the ACM Lifting Lives Gala at the Omni Hotel on April 17, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Jason Kempin/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
DALLAS, TX - APRIL 17: Hosts Garth Brooks (L) and Trisha Yearwood kiss onstage during the ACM Lifting Lives Gala at the Omni Hotel on April 17, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Jason Merritt/ACM2015/Getty Images for dcp)
NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 25: Recording artists Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks present awards during the Opening Ceremonies of CRS 2015 on February 25, 2015 at the Nashville Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Davis/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 17: Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks attend the ASCAP Centennial Awards at Waldorf Astoria Hotel on November 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for ASCAP)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 19: Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood attend a press conference at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite on September 19, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Chris McKay/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 06: Recording artists Garth Brooks (L) and Trisha Yearwood attend the 49th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 6, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Rick Diamond/ACMA2014/Getty Images for ACM)
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 22: Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks perform during Playin' Possum! The Final No Show Tribute To George Jones at Bridgestone Arena on November 22, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon IV/FilmMagic)
NORMAN, OK - JULY 06: Musicians Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks speak in the press room at the Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert to benefit United Way of Central Oklahoma May Tornadoes Relief Fund at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on July 6, 2013 in Norman, Oklahoma. To donate go to www.unitedwayokc.org or text REBUILD to 52000. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Shock Ink)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 06: Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks attends the 2012 Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees announcement at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on March 6, 2012 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon IV/FilmMagic)
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood perform at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Gala at the Beverly Hilton on May 15, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 16: Performer Trisha Yearwood and inductee Garth Brooks attend the Songwriters Hall of Fame 42nd Annual Induction and Awards at The New York Marriott Marquis Hotel - Shubert Alley on June 16, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall of Fame)
Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks during 2007 MusiCares Person Of The Year Honoring Don Henley - Arrivals at Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by M. Tran/FilmMagic)
Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks (Photo by Michael Caulfield/WireImage for PMK/HBH)
Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage for The Recording Academy)
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood during Disneyland 50th Anniversary 'Happiest Homecoming On Earth' Celebration at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, United States. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks during 33rd Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards at Sheraton Hotel in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Bill Davila/FilmMagic)
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood during 33rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at Universal Ampitheater in Universal City, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1222 -- Pictured: (l-r) Musical guests Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood on September 11, 1997 -- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood during Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards - VIP Room at Sheraton Hotel in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by L. Busacca/WireImage)
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She said people need to take action ― not just talk ― to make some real change. “Everybody says, ‘This is what we want.’ But you gotta really do it,” she said.

Still, Yearwood was thrilled to see Musgraves swoop up three honors at the Grammys: album of the year for “Golden Hour,” best country song for “Space Cowboy” and best country solo performance for “Butterflies.” 

“Her album was one that she purely made because she’s saying, ‘I’m an artist. This is what I want to say.’ I don’t think she was concerned about all the things that come up after you make the record. We have to be. We’re marketing. We want to sell records,” Yearwood said. “But if you’re going to call yourself an artist, your first love, your first priority has to be making sure you take care of that music and do what you feel in your heart and you hope you’re going to connect with somebody out there. … So I think that’s what Kacey did with the record, and I think that’s why she’s being recognized. People can tell when you follow your heart.”

Follow her heart is something Yearwood has aimed to do since the start of her career. She landed her first No. 1 country single in 1991 with “She’s in Love With the Boy” and has been a force on the country music scene ever since. These days, though, she doesn’t try to put too much pressure on herself. She said she has Garth Brooks to thank for that.

“I have to credit my husband with that because I am competitive,” Yearwood revealed. “I’m always analyzing myself and my career and everything I’m doing. And he’s the one who said, ‘You need to realize you don’t have to prove anything to anybody. Just do you.’ And that’s what I needed to hear. … It doesn’t mean you don’t want those things. I want to have a No. 1 record on the radio. I want to sell records. I want to be successful currently. I don’t want to be just known for what I did and what I’ve done. But at the same time, I’m good.”

Good enough that she just released an album mostly of songs recorded by Frank Sinatra, one of her musical heroes. Called “Let’s Be Frank,” the collection finds her doing versions of standards, including “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Come Fly With Me.” It is her first full-length release since 2007 ― and it won’t be her last. She recently recorded a country album featuring a batch of new songs largely written or co-written by women. 

“I’m not chasing anything. I’m not trying to be some trendy things. I think when you hear this record, you’ll go, ‘Oh, this is Trisha,’” she said about the album, expected out this fall. “I don’t know if it’s the freedom of being 54 and life is too short. I’m just going to have fun and do what I want to do.” 

PHOTOS: Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood's Malibu home

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Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwoods' Malibu Beach Retreat
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Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwoods' Malibu Beach Retreat
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