ACM Awards: Backstage and Upfront with Reba McEntire

“We’re just gearing up.”

That’s what Reba McEntire had to say backstage at the 54th annual ACM Awards when asked for her thoughts on the fact that only three female artists took home awards Sunday (April 7).

“I know that it has been a little dry spell for the women, and after the Grammys and tonight, you saw some really powerful women performing tonight,” she added. “Ashley McBryde, I am so excited about her career and Kacey Musgraves. It’s going to be a very interesting 2019. I think it’s going to be different next year.”

Those three winning artists are Kacey Musgraves, Ashley McBryde and hit-maker Nicolle Galyon, the latter of whom shares the 2019 song of the year award with Dan + Shay’s Dan Smyers and Jordan Reynolds for “Tequila.”

McEntire first expressed her disappointment in the lack of females represented in the ACM Awards’ entertainer of the year category with the nominations were first announced in February. In the following weeks, the ACM announced the development of the Diversity & Inclusiveness Task Force with specific goals to evaluate voting criteria and Awards processes, increase diversity in all ACM decision-making spaces and increase representation on the show and more.

Sunday’s awards marked McEntire’s 16th time as the event’s host. She won her first entertainer of the year award in 1994.

Here’s more from McEntire’s conversation:

On the artists she thinks are taking country music to new places while staying true to its roots … “Ashley McBryde and Luke Combs. I was just thrilled to bits with both of their performances, and the audience loved them. When Luke was singing, the audience were singing his song. With him. And it was like a Garth Brooks concert. I was really, I was amazed. I was very stunned at first, and then I got to looking around, it’s a great song, it’s very Country and he’s such a great singer. And Ashley McBride, they tore the house down when she got through.”

Her thoughts on whether country lyrics with a hip-hop style can be country … “Hasn’t it already? Or did I miss something, somewhere along the way? Country Music has always been very diversified. In the genre of, it’s, one time it’ll be very traditional then it’ll be very contemporary, then it’ll all go with the girls, then it’ll all go with the boys.

“And then everything changes up. It’s cyclical. But I think we’ve had that before … I think it’s been very open in a way, except for the women being [recorded]. Now, the women know we’ve got to step up, and we’ve got to really be more particular on our music. We can’t really chase anything, we’ve got to find the songs that really touch people’s hearts. That’s how I have maintained a 43-year career. Because if I find a song that touches my heart, hopefully when I sing it, it’ll touch your heart.

“If you have no reaction or feeling from anything I do, I might as well not be up here taking your time. So that’s what we’ve got to work on, to make Country Music stronger, and make it again, the strongest genre of music.”

Lauren Tingle is a Tennessean and storyteller who eats music for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When she’s not writing or rocking out, she enjoys yoga and getting lost in the great outdoors.