In this special episode of SongTown on Songwriting, podcast hosts Marty Dodson and Clay Mills share conversations with three of Nashville’s shining country songstresses. Jesse Lee, Tia Sillers, and Jennifer Hanson all shed light on what it’s like to be a female writer in the country music world.
Lee was recently awarded a No. 1 spot on the charts for the single she wrote with Brett Young. She explains that as a female songwriter, it’s easy to write solely “female songs,” but writing “Like I Loved You” with Young helped prove to herself (and others) that being a woman doesn’t impair you from making a great “male song.”
“I got up and I just said, ‘I feel really proud to be a woman with a two-way number one.’ Because I think there was a big difference between me writing a female hit song, and then now me writing a male hit song. And then being like, ‘OK, girls can write guy songs, too.’ And we don’t need a third person to do it. So that was really special to me,” Lee says.
Sillers, a Nashville-born artist and longtime songwriting veteran, adds to Lee’s sentiment with her own perspective.
“I said this back in like 2003… There were no women on male songs anymore. My last male country song I had was Alan Jackson’s ‘That’d Be Alright’ and then the only way to get a cut was with a woman. All genres need to change and evolve and I can completely embrace country music in so far as this is an era and now it changes. And I’m very curious, I’m hopeful that it will change because I loved the change before this, so maybe I’ll love the next change,” Sillers says.
Although it’s impossible to know what the next change will look like for country music, Hanson wraps up the episode with a great piece of advice for all female songwriters. “You just have to demand respect,” she concludes.
“It starts with respecting yourself first of all, but I think as far as being taken seriously, the work speaks for itself,” Hanson continues. “That’s where it’s kind of black or white – it just is or it isn’t. So I would recommend just honing your skills, educating yourself, and if you’re producing something you want to get into, diving more into that world.”
For more on these talented songwriters’ personal experiences with being a woman in the industry, check out the SongTown on Songwriting podcast.