If there's one thing that singer Cam is so over, it's people thinking that there can only be so many successful women in country music. The reasons given, Cam tells Refinery29's Emily Curl in an interview, are myths perpetuated by the industry.
"People who aren’t necessarily bad people, they’re just sharing these same ideas, will say ‘Well, women don’t like listening to each other because they’re competitive. Women like listening to men because they like to imagine the men singing to them is their boyfriend,'" says Cam.
Of course, there are women who have made huge names for themselves in country music — like Dolly Parton, whose song "Jolene" is the direct inspiration for Cam's track "Diane." In Parton's iconic song, she sings to a woman, Jolene, begging her not to "take her man." But this is not a song that shames or belittles the "other woman" in Parton's love story: It's one that treats her with compassion. It's what Cam chose to recreate not just with her own song, but in how she treats other women in the industry.
"You don't have to love every single female artist out there you meet," Cam exclaims. "But I think that because there are so few of us, making it public that we don't hate each other is a thing that needs to be said."
One way to change the narrative? Make more women gatekeepers.
"I think that there is an idea that’s left over, not only in country music but in a lot of the world, that women don’t like women, and that women aren’t on an equal playing field and that somehow it’s their fault," Cam explains, adding, "That floats around in people’s heads a lot, and it plays out in a lot of different ways. There are a lot of historical factors about why women aren’t heads at a lot of different labels… There aren’t a lot of women gatekeepers at corporate radio, or any radio… There aren’t a lot of women songwriters, musicians, producers."
"Just because we can see the problem fully, means now we can address it. There are a lot of people who one, don’t want to talk about it because you risk something when you start calling out people who have power, and you risk your position. Me being a part of the system, and calling out the flaws in it, makes people uncomfortable."
One way that Cam is working towards change is by becoming a member of the Recording Academy's Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which studies the challenges facing underrepresented musicians such as women and people of colour in the music industry. She joins stars like Sheryl Crow, Common, and Andra Day.
Have you seen the news?? I am a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force!! 👮🏻♀️💛💪🏻 (swipe to read more). We are working to understand the biases/barriers affecting underrepresented groups in the music business, and in the Recording Academy specifically. I’m so unbelievably honored to be a part of this. Stay tuned. Cause boy oh boy have I got a lot to say... change is comin 😘 suggestions for the Task Force from the public can be entered here: http://www.grammy.com/taskforcefeedback
To hear all of Cam's thoughts on how to make the music industry more inclusive for all, check out the video below: