I’ve been trying to think about two things which seem at opposite ends of the scale of importance. The more thought I give them, the more I find that, like most other things in life, there’s more of a connection than I first imagined.
I’ve been sifting through some of the recordings we made on our recent trip to Rwanda and DRC and listening to stories I’d perhaps have rather avoided in regular times. The stories are by women who have survived incredible odds just to stay alive. Often the struggles they have endured over the last ten to twenty years involve them simply getting back to a life, we in the North of the world, would consider to be less than adequate. I’m seeing faces and hearing voices tell of how glad they are that they can simply work their fields or sell their vegetables at market without the fear of attack from marauding militias. There’s no mention of the fact they still have to walk miles for water or that electricity is still a luxury.
In another part of my mind I’m thinking of Maren Morris as she stands at #1 on the country chart and expects her first child. Any triumph of a female country artist right now is to be celebrated. And before I catch you say, ‘oh how can you compare both things?,’ let me explain firmly that women – all women – have been excluded, and ignored for too long. Our voices (men) are often too loud, too forceful and too ubiquitous and we are missing out on hearing fresh, creative, compassionate voices everywhere.
I’m sure you can add your own stories to this, but I’m pretty certain that the lack of women on country radio is simply another example of the challenge women face universally. Within the last year the BBC has had to face up to uncomfortable questions of equal remuneration for staff, the Oscars has just passed seemingly oblivious to women directors and we still face the massive problem of sexual assaults on University campuses in the UK. This is a struggle that continues people.
So, I’ll be telling the story of some remarkable women I met in Africa over the next couple of months elsewhere, but I am pretty damn sure that we can see the thread running in every piece of life we encounter. On Another Country we pride ourselves by playing the best of the music we hear. Sometimes that means we play a little fewer male voices, but they can, at least be sure, they are getting the spin based on merit!
So, this week, we’ll have a range of remarkable women. I’m particularly drawn to Tanya Tucker’s story. A child TV and recording star by the age of 13, she went on to have a number of different revivals in a career which broke all kinds of barriers and taboos. Her recent album (and first for 17 years) is testament to her drive, ambition and raw talent. It’s one of those records I put on last year and did not take off until the end. Carefully produced and collated by Brandi Carlile and Shooter Jennings it allows Tanya to tell country stories in the way only she can. She’s going to be one of our very special guests at BBC here in Glasgow during C2C and we thought we’d let you hear more of that new Double Grammy winning recording.
We’ll also pick up a lovely thread from last week’s show which featured a great session from Lauren Jenkins. We’ll play her recently recorded version of a Springsteen song and allow ourselves a little wander down the Jersey Shore with the help of an interesting range of Americana stars.
There’s bluegrass, new artists to look out for – Miss Tess, Arborist and Honey Harper plus the joy of hearing some old friends release new material.
It’s also your final chance to hear us at 9pm. From next week we return to the much better (and original) time slot of 8 – 10 pm. It’s been a long campaign to get back there, so we’ll make sure it will be a night to remember! So, for one last time join me, if you can, live at five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland FM this Tuesday evening.