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The Highwomen Explain Their Mission to Get More Female Artists on Country Radio

The Highwomen are on a mission. Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby’s supergroup called out the disparity between the airplay of male and female artists on country radio during their appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Thursday, October 3.

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Shires, 37, told Ellen DeGeneres that she was inspired by her 4-year-old daughter, Mercy, to spearhead the formation of an all-women country group.

“She was starting to show signs of wanting to play music, maybe, when she grows up,” the singer-songwriter explained. “I thought the worst thing that could happen would be that she would go for country because there are only currently two women’s voices that you can actually hear on the radio.”

The Highwomen on Ellen
The Highwomen and Ellen DeGeneres on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California. Michael Rozman/Warner Bros

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First up, Shires called Carlile, 38, about starting a group, which the three-time Grammy winner thought would be a great idea to “represent more women and girls’ voices in country music.”

Not long after, Morris, 29, and Hemby, 42, signed on, and The Highwomen were born.

When DeGeneres, 61, pointed out that Morris is one of the bestselling country artists — male or female — of the 21st century, the “Middle” singer responded by saying that radio still does not show her enough love.

“They play me, but when you compare it to some of my male peers, it’s pretty staggering still,” she said. “And I’m one of the few lucky girls that gets played on country radio. We’re just trying to change that.”

The Highwomen Perform on Ellen
The Highwomen perform on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California Michael Rozman/Warner Bros

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The Highwomen released their self-titled debut album on September 6 to rave reviews. They have since been performing all over the country — including a recent show with one of their biggest idols, Dolly Parton.

“Just performing with her a few weeks ago with these girls, we all kind of felt like, ‘Well, we just sang with Dolly Parton. Should we Thelma and Louise it and just all jump off a cliff?’” Morris joked.

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