Martina McBride was one of the reigning country artists of the ’90s, along with other female singers like Faith Hill, Sara Evans, Trisha Yearwood, Shania Twain and more. But as country music leaned more towards the bro-country era, artists like McBride got pushed out, making the genre no longer interesting to her.
“As a country music fan, it’s not what I want to hear,” McBride said the Shady Ladies of Music City podcast (via CMT). “What I want to hear is a song about my life. I want to hear a song that I can relate to. Without a lot of women’s point of view on radio, it’s not there for me anymore. No offense to the guy artists, I’m just saying I can’t find what I need there, so I don’t listen to it, to be honest.”
Many hail the ’90s as the last era where female artists were embraced in country music, but the 54-year-old says even then, it was a struggle.
“What’s interesting to me is the fact that back when there was me, and Faith and Wynonna and Jamie O’Neal, Sara Evans and all of these people, getting played regularly, it felt like a struggle, I’ll be honest with you,” McBride maintained. “It still wasn’t easy. We had to work hard for every single spin.”
McBride had more than 30 Top 20 singles, an impressive feat for any artist, male or female, but she defers at least some of the credit to those on her team.
“I was lucky, I had great executives at my record company,” McBride acknowledged. “I had a huge machine behind me, and I was also allowed to record the music that I wanted to record. I look back at some of the songs that I recorded, I don’t know if they’d get played today. I feel like some of the females are having to kind of tailor-make their music to get played on country radio, which is a shame. I’m not speaking for anybody, I’m just saying, do you think ‘Concrete Angel’ would get played on the radio today? I don’t think so.”
McBride blames at least part of the lack of appeal of country music, at least for her, to the way radio has changed the entire format, and not necessarily for the better.
“You had a program director and a music director, and they decided what they played on their radio station, which is another reason why we had to work so hard,” McBride recalled. “They had a lot of influence. So you went to the lunches and you did the free shows, and the liners and you did all the stuff that curried favor because they could decide what they played. Now, it’s so consolidated that everybody gets the same playlist, pretty much. There’s no individuality, so it’s like, what’s going to work? They are kind of judging what they think people want to hear, and it’s so skewed to me.”