Country superstar Jennifer Nettles walked the red carpet of the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards on Wednesday night with an outfit meant to call out country radio: "Play our f*@#!n records, please & thank you" was written on it.
The Sugarland singer wore a white suit with a pink cape, designed by Christian Siriano, that read “Equal Play” on the back with a drawing of a woman done by artist Alice Mizrachi.
Nettles said her outfit aimed to start a conversation about women in country music “beyond the applause,” The Tennessean reported.
"People do want to hear women's stories," Nettles said. "It's a fallacy to say that they're going to turn the channel."
.@JenniferNettles wears a dress reading #EqualPlay as she arrives for the 52nd Annual @CountryMusic Association Awards at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN on Nov. 13, 2019. Photos by John Angelillo for @UPI. #CMAawards pic.twitter.com/48XfcOL1Sn— UPI Photos (@UPIPhotos) November 13, 2019
Nettles’s message came in a year where three women — Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton — hosted the CMAs. A group of 14 women, including Nettles, also opened the show with a compilation of songs from legendary female country artists.
Fiddle player Jenee Fleenor was also the first woman to be nominated for Musician of the Year.
Nettles's bold red carpet design comes after a headline-making report released earlier this year regarding gender bias in the country music industry.
“Gender Representation on Country Format Radio: A Study of Published Reports from 2000-2018,” released in April by Jada Watson of the University of Ottawa, found that women only made up 11.3 percent of country airplay time in 2018, compared to 33.3 percent in 2000.
“This study is the first to use radio airplay data to investigate gender imbalances in country radio,” Watson said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “While studies of Billboard charts are valuable for evaluating inequality in a genre, to be sure, this data gives us perspective on the shape and impact of radio programming on female artists. These results do not just confirm gender imbalance, they show us the severity of the inequality that plagues country music culture, and how much more men are privileged in this space.”