Shania Twain Calls for Diversity, Gender Equality in Country Music
By Carena Liptak
November 27, 2018
When Shania Twain took the helm of the new televised singing competition Real Country -- participating in the show as a judge as well as a co-producer -- the legendary singer saw an exciting opportunity to help define country for a new generation. That definition, Twain explains in a recent interview with E! News, should include a diverse array of musical styles and an open playing field for artists of all backgrounds and walks of life. Anything less, in fact, would be boring.
"We have too much of the sameness right now. I'm a little bit bored with it," Twain says. "And I want to shake it up. And so the best way to do that is to be proactive, which is the only way I know how to be, and that's what I want to contribute. So that's why I'm doing this show."
Twain says she's frustrated by the lack of diversity she sees in country music today, particularly the gender gap on country radio. While she says that there has been some progress for women in country music over the course of her career, the country icon says that the genre has a long way to go.
"We are not making radio progress. But we are making very small, steady steps towards awareness that we're lacking women on country radio. So more women are speaking out," Twain says.
In fact, she continues, adding her voice to the community of artists calling for equality on country radio is another part of why she wanted to make Real Country. "I wanted a show that when you talk about diversity, that includes gender diversity. Style diversity. Lifestyle diversity. All of that," Twain explains. "So of course I want to see more women on country music radio, and [having] the opportunity to get out there and be heard."
If the majority of country artists achieving success today all fit into a certain type of mold, that's due to the industry, not a result of what the genre's fans are asking for. The superstar says that fans are open to a wide variety of what country has to offer, and she knows that because they're showing up to her shows.
"The fans are already accepting. They're already there," she says. "The fans are coming to my shows. Who I am, as an artist, as a songwriter, as a performer, is completely outside the box of where we've narrowed country down to be right now. But the fans aren't narrow-minded. It's the access to the fans that is too narrow."
As a woman in the genre who has achieved and maintained longstanding success, Twain is uniquely suited to speak to the struggles that up-and-coming female artists experience as they try to advance their careers. "Well, first of all, I wanna know who you are, and I wanna help you, and I wanna give you an opportunity," the singer says.
Opportunities for success shouldn't be available only to young artists, Twain adds. "This is also a big part of speaking out on behalf of young, or it doesn't matter what age you are. I'm fed up with the whole ageist thing as well as the sexist thing," she goes on to say. "This platform is wide open. Bring your talent on. If you're good enough, genuinely, as a talent, I don't care what you are. As long as you're a human being, the rest doesn't matter."