It was a tweet not intended to break the hearts of country fans and star Kelsea Ballerini, but strike a nerve it did.
On Monday (April 8), a Twitter account that supports and aims to spotlight women in country music posted a seemingly harmless online poll asking followers which five female artists they were most looking forward to seeing perform on Sunday’s (April 15) ACM Awards.
Among the names on the ballot were Maren Morris, Kelly Clarkson, ACM “New Female Vocalist of the Year” Lauren Alaina and Ballerini.
Seems fine, right? But in the context of changing the conversation regarding women in country music, a post like this can take on a problematic implication: that there really isn’t room for everyone at the proverbial Nashville table. And Ballerini was “really bummed” to see her friends and herself all stacked against one another in this way. She took to her Instagram to share her feelings on the matter and the post.
Her response is long, but among the most worthwhile and essential reads on the subject in recent memory.
“This made me really bummed today,” she wrote. “Since I put out my first single over 4 years ago, every interview includes some form of a question about the females in country music… or the current lack thereof. So we swim upstream and wear ourselves out trying to be heard and finally see the charts start to mention a few more of our names, the categories recognize a few more of our names, the categories recognize a few more of our songs, and even start to cheer each other on. But then there’s something as simple and seemingly harmless as this that sets us back.
“It takes dozens of talented, determined, hard-working, kind women that want to continue the incredible marks on the genre the women before us have made, and it makes us feel like there’s only one spot available. So then there’s tension. And insecurity. And this magical bond that females have when we truly, actually want each other to win… it gets compromised. It makes me sad because I feel lit. Heck, it makes me insecure. It makes me feel tension in a room where there is another girl that is successful. It makes me feel awkward. It makes me overthink conversations. It makes me assume the worst. Which is actually CRAZY.
“This is definitely an insta-vent, because I don’t want the new females in country music to be misrepresented to the fans or the media as the popular girls in high school that pose for photos like we’re bffs, but secretly despise the one that dates the quarterback. And more than that, I don’t want US to feel like that. This isn’t ‘mean girls,’ this is country music. Where you actually CAN sit with us.”
After seeing Ballerini’s response, the outlet that originally issued the poll posted a sincere apology to her and all women in music. It’s clear from their statement that it genuinely didn’t fully consider the possible repercussions of a post like this, and that its intent truly was harmless.
Still, Ballerini’s message is an inspiring reminder to take even more care and caution with our words because haven’t we all at some point or another put ourselves in this very same position, even when our intentions were good?
Of course, we have. We’re all human and still learning how to impactfully ignite change on every level. Thank you for the impassioned reminder, Kelsea. Let’s keep this conversation going.
Ballerini heads to the 53rd annual ACM Awards in Las Vegas with two nominations for female vocalist and video of the year for “Legends.”