Country music’s biggest names haven’t been afraid to go head-to-head over the years, exchanging blows on social media, making up at awards shows and more.
In 2015, several female artists came together to fire back at radio personality Keith Hill amid his comments about why he plays more male artists on the air. The controversy was dubbed “Tomato-gate.”
“If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out. The reason is mainstream country radio generates more quarter hours from female listeners at the rate of 70 to 75 percent, and women like male artists,” Hill said at the time, “The expectation is we’re principally a male format with a smaller female component. … Trust me, I play great female records, and we’ve got some right now; they’re just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”
Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert, Sara Evans, Jennifer Nettles and Kacey Musgraves were among those to speak out. In 2016, McBride told Billboard, “If you’re singing and writing good songs, I don’t care what gender you are or if you’re trans — if it’s a great song, it should be played.”