Women are underrated. Somehow (even though it's not exactly a mystery), we are still combating equal rights, which is terrifyingly reflected on the airwaves. Looking at the country radio charts any given week, there might be two or three solo women present ⎯⎯ but even that is becoming a rarity these days.
With Carrie Underwood on hiatus and programmers treating Miranda Lambert like the black plague, the format is severely suffering for their unwillingness to develop many new, incredibly talented contenders. Kelsea Ballerini, who snagged several hit singles during her debut era, is seeing sluggish returns with "Legends" (only now entering the Top 15); Maren Morris only recently scored her second Top 10 hit, and Carly Pearce's first No. 1 is in free fall. Something's gotta change, right?
Yes. No. Maybe so.
In there interim, while we wait for mainstream radio to clean up its act and give more women a chance, One Country rounds up 10 women who deserve their big break already.10 Women in Country Music Who Deserve to Breakout Already:
1. Ruthie Collins
Latest Release: Get Drunk & Cry debut album
Best Songs: "Getting Out There," "Get Drunk and Cry," "Pink Bic Lighter"
Signed to Curb Records, Collins finally released her debut album earlier this year. She also put together a Beyoncé-sliced short film, depicting her heartbreak and rise from the ashes. Her voice is raw, honest and real, with a pen just as sharp.
2. Ashley McBryde
Latest Release: "A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega" single
Best Songs: "Holy Water," "A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega," "Redemption"
McBryde recently signed a major label deal with Warner Music Nashville, but she has been around for a number of years, releasing two studio albums previously. Her soul-country-blues hybrid is a little bit Gretchen Wilson and a little bit Miranda Lambert ⎯⎯ with a shot of McBryde intensity.
3. Mickey Guyton
Latest Release: "Nice Things"
Best Songs: "Better Than You Left Me," "Nice Things" "Why Baby Why"
Guyton has one of the clearest, most powerful voices to come along since Carrie Underwood. The restraint she possesses throughout much of her work could be the 8th Wonder of the World. So far, she has proven her depth and scope of stylistic perception, from breezy pop-country tunes to traditional-bent work. We just need radio to get onboard, stat!
4. Kelleigh Bannen
Latest Release: "O Holy Night" and "Deck the Halls"
Best Songs: "Church Clothes," "Smoke When I Drink," "Famous," "Once Upon A"
Bannen fell victim to the major label machine. Once signed to EMI, she issued a string of radio singles to no success, and her album was shelved. She was soon independent and has released one EP (which is rather fun and emotional) and a double dose of holiday cheer, most recently. Her smoky tone is unmistakable, easily identifiable in the flood of aspiring singers.
5. Caitlyn Smith
Latest Release: Starfire EP
Best Songs: "Before You Called Me Baby," "This Town is Killing Me," "Tacoma"
Having written some major pop and country hits, including Meghan Trainor's "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" and Cassadee Pope's "Wasting All These Tears," Smith blends soul and blues into her solo work. With two EPs to her credit, she is eyeing a full-length album in the coming year. We are...ready for it?!
6. Maggie Rose
Latest Release: "Pull You Through" and "Just Getting By"
Best Songs: "Looking Back Now," "Better," "Preacher's Daughter," "Pull You Through," "I Won't"
Another artist chewed up and spit out by a major label, Rose is one of the smartest and most captivating "newcomers" around. Straddling strains of pop, soul and country music, her output has been...impressive. From her debut LP Cut to Impress, containing the excellent "Looking Back Now," "Preacher's Daughter" and "Better," to this year's gloriously poppy Dreams > Dollars, Rose is secretly taking over the world.
7. Jillian Jacqueline
Latest Release: Side A EP
Best Songs: "Prime," "Kids These Days," "Holier Than Thou," "God Bless This Mess"
Jacqueline blends slick rhythmic-pop with her folksy, homespun songwriting. Her voice is feathery and suitably commanding. She doesn't waste any time apologizing or pretending to be anything but who she is. She's fiery, rebellious and ain't going anywhere anytime soon.
8. Brooke Eden
Latest Release: Welcome to the Weekend EP
Best Songs: "Act Like You Don't," "He's All Yours," "I Took Your Picture Down Today"
When tasked with smoldering ballads, like those found on her 2014 self-titled EP, Eden, she can knock you off your feet. She's a pint-sized talent, best left to her own creative devices, rather than being shoehorned into the Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert template. When she soars, she breaks the stratosphere.
9. Kalie Shorr
Latest Release: "Two Hands" single
Best Songs: "Fight Like a Girl," "Rearview," "Two Hands"
Taylor Swift is her most obvious influence (just stalk her social media, and you'll understand). But her voice is uniquely hers, further stretching the boundaries Swift shifted in her country days. Shorr represents the genre-bending future, as seen through the success of Sam Hunt and Thomas Rhett.
10. Jaida Dreyer
Latest Release: I Am Jaida Dreyer
Best Songs: "Confessions," "Cocaine," "Half Broke Horses," "Boy Who Cried Love"
To be fair, Dreyer hasn't released an album in five years, since her 2012 debut, I Am Jaida Dreyer. Meanwhile, she's collected a nice stack of songs featured on CMT's "Nashville" and major artist cuts, including "Home Alone Tonight," a big hit for Luke Bryan, featuring Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild. The stage is set, and now would be the perfect time for a comeback.