Throwing Shade

From violence to feminism to gay marriage, we can learn from female rebels in country music

Singers Kacey Musgraves, left, and Sheryl Crow speak on stage at the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 7, 2013. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Singers Kacey Musgraves, left, and Sheryl Crow speak on stage at the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 7, 2013. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

For decades, rebellious women have defied the country music industry and tackled social issues nobody else wanted to talk about.

In the 1990s, Martina McBride faced skepticism and, at first, limited airtime for “Independence Day,” a power ballad about domestic abuse. By the early 2000s, the superstar brought us to tears again with “Concrete Angel,” the tragic story of a little girl who lost a battle of parental abuse.

Faith Hill, who splashed on-scene with a short, pixie haircut, often had to defend her lack of locks in media interviews. Hill, who insisted her hair didn’t define her, kept it short for years. When her sensual ballad “Breathe” hit airwaves, the Mississippi native made headlines again, this time for being too racy underneath the sheets in her music video. Hill had no intention of hiding the fact that her song was about making love.

And then there’s the Dixie Chicks. The wildly popular, bad ass trio was shunned from country music after criticizing President Bush at a concert. After receiving hateful letters, calls and death threats, the girls stormed back onto the music scene with “Not Ready To Make Nice,” a powerful doctrine that garnered a couple of Grammys.

Now, country’s newest rising star, Kacey Musgraves, has taken the torch from many before her and is blazing through the country scene with a message about gay marriage—love who you love. Not only did her album “Same Trailer Different Park” win Best Country Album at the Grammy’s this year, Musgraves single “Follow Your Arrow” tells fans to “kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls, if that’s something you’re into.”

Musgraves goes on to sing “Straight and narrow’s just a little too straight. Roll up a joint, or don’t, just follow your arrow wherever it points.”

Musgraves performed “Follow Your Arrow” at this year’s GLAAD awards, and her message is clear—do your own thing, and follow your own path. Gay marriage isn’t a big deal because people deserve to be happy.

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