Jana Kramer has definitely felt her share of frustrations as a female in the very male-driven country music scene. When asked if she is proud to represent women in the genre, she lets out a giant sigh: “I am, and I take a deep breath, just because yes I’m representing. But at the same time, I’m not on the charts. I’m not, and few women are,” she says
Kramer notes that currently there are around three women to every 50 men on the charts, and even superstars like Miranda Lambert are struggling to hold their own against their male colleagues.
So Kramer is taking a new approach. “For me, it’s about not just focusing on a chart that is very male driven but focusing on how else can I brand myself and how else can I win in an environment where primarily the males are going to chart and not give up?’” she says, admitting that she’s far from throwing in the towel — but that the temptation is definitely there.
“A part of me is just like, ‘Why am I going to keep fighting for something when you are not going to play me on the radio and I’m not going to chart because I am a female?’ But I am trying to get myself in a different mindset where it’s not about the chart anymore. It’s about finding different ways to get my songs played and acting and starting a podcast, doing different things where I can pave my own way instead of going down the same route, trying to fight tooth and nail to get a song on the radio, which most likely probably won’t.”
Kramer adds that whenever she’s questioned the system, she’s been told, “It’s about the song.” However, she counters that with the plethora of female-helmed “amazing songs” that haven’t made a dent in the charts: “’Church Clothes’ by Kelleigh Bannen, for instance, was an incredible song that Nicolle Galyon wrote,” she says, as an example. “I didn’t see that one on the charts — so I hate when they say it’s about the song, because it’s really not. It’s about whether you’re a dude or you’re female.”
But still, the country gene runs strong in the Michigan native, who says she definitely rocked her share of cowboy boots and cutoff shorts while growing up in the Midwest. “I love country music. I love listening to it. It’s what I grew up on and it’s something that I’ll always listen to. I love the stories they tell. It’s always gotten me through the best and the worst times.
“Everyone is like, ‘You’re from Michigan, how do you sing country music?’ And I’m like, ‘oh so I just need to be from the south to sing country music? Oh OK. That does not make sense to me at all,’” she says with a laugh.