As workplace misconduct by powerful men in Hollywood, politics and sports continues to make headline news, the national sexual harassment reckoning inspired by the #MeToo movement has yet to significantly impact the Music Row community.
There are a couple theories behind this that are too convoluted to explain in just one article. One of them is that women in country music would rather celebrate and support each other than share the spotlight with perpetrators of abuse.
But ask any music business professional whether they have experienced workplace misconduct or counseled a colleague that has been harassed, and they all have a story to tell.
The CMT Next Women of Country program started in 2013 to celebrate rising talent, empower women and it has served as a launching pad for several successful acts, including Grammy winners Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves.
In November, members of the Music Row community broke from a busy CMA Awards week to welcome the initiative’s nine new additions at a private showcase at Nashville’s City Winery. Hundreds of artists, songwriters, politicians and industry execs were there for the kickoff — a surprise cover of Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do” by Kalie Shorr, Kelleigh Bannen and Lindsay Ell.
Their performance has been made into an official music video that ends with the number to 1-800-656-HOPE, which is a national sexual assault hotline organized by nonprofit RAINN.
“I did a solo cover and video of the song when it first came out and was later asked to perform it at CMT’s Next Women of Country event,” Shorr, 23, tells People. “The Next Women franchise is all about creating an environment in Nashville where women support each other, so I called up two of my favorite artists, and we figured out this stellar arrangement.
“We realized after performing it in Kelleigh’s kitchen that the song took on a whole new meaning,” she adds. “It became part empowerment anthem and part protest song directed at anyone who has ever discounted, disrespected or harassed a woman.
“We stood united on that stage with three incredibly different sounds, coming together to make a statement at a time when women’s rights are at the forefront of the national conversation. I’ve never seen women support each other as much as they are at this point in history. I guess you could say that’s what the world made us do.”
Shorr will join the 2018 CMT Next Women of Country Tour with Sara Evans and RaeLynn when the 15-city run launches Feb. 12 in New York City.