Cover Image: Her Country

Her Country

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Member Reviews

A great overview of the women of country music who are breaking away from the perceived limits of what "Country Music" is supposed to be. I was already familiar with Kacey Musgrave through her phenomenal Golden Hour album, but this book made me want to dive into Maren Morris and Mickey Guyton, two artists I'm less familiar with.
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at times angry, at times inspiring, her country is an incisive, compelling examination of how women in country music have forged new paths to success in a genre that refuses to make space for them—and how they continue to change that genre for the women who will come after them. moss follows kacey musgraves, maren morris, mickey guyton, and over a dozen of their peers from texas to music row to the newport folk festival as she tells their stories and the overarching story of a genre that, nearly twenty years after forcing the chicks out, continues to demand that women simply “shut up and sing.”

i was raised on country music, but you don’t need to be familiar with the genre to appreciate her country; i would recommend it to anyone interested in issues of sexism, racism, and homophobia within the music industry. moss’s passion for the subject is apparent in her writing and research and she provides more than enough context for anyone unfamiliar with the artists and music discussed. i’m not usually a nonfiction reader, but i couldn’t put this down—it was truly a fascinating read.
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DNF. I really liked the premise but the writing did not work for me at all. It wouldn't be fair to the book if I finished reading and gave it a low rating.
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<i>Her Country</i> tackles the unspoken, backward rules of the country music industry with regard to female artists, and does so by tracking the careers of Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, and Mickey Guyton. I'm from the same hometown as Kacey Musgraves, and while prior to reading this book I was only vaguely familiar with her music, she's always been an artist I've rooted for as a local inspiration. Morris and Guyton I had no previous knowledge of, but I'm glad that this book has changed that!

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, much less those of us who have tuned into country radio in the last decade and a half, that there is a general disinterest within the industry in female/Black/LGBTQ+ artists. Moss does a solid job of examining this through the lens of three artists' careers, and how they each have bucked the trends of the industry. There is background information provided for those of us who either haven't listened to country music since the early aughts - like myself - or those who aren't familiar with the scene at all. 

That being said, I do think the information could have been organized a little better. It's clear that there is a lot of material Moss could have covered in this book, and it seems like the book can't quite decide whether it wants to analyze the country music industry or follow the careers of Musgraves, Morris, and Guyton. These two strands aren't brought together enough to make it a solid thread, and this can result in sections feeling a little disjointed. There are also parts that feel a little like information overload or seem dry, but I honestly come to expect that from nonfiction at this point, so I'm not counting that against the book. 

Overall, I'm glad I read this! I have been listening to Kacey non-stop ever since, and have created a playlist with Morris, Guyton, and other artists mentioned in the book that I had either never heard of or had long forgotten. I'd recommend this read for anyone interested in country/Texas music, female artists, or for more information about the country music industry. 

Thank you to Henry Holt and Co. and NetGalley for providing a copy for review.
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Her Country tells the story of women in country music focusing on Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, and Mickey Guyton. I’m not a huge fan of country music, but the author does a good job of giving historical context so I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. This book will challenge your thinking on country music, telling the story of how the three main artists featured are working to redefine what country is and what it means to be a successful country music artist.

Thanks to Henry Holt & Co. and Netgalley for the eArc in exchange for an honest review.
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Her Country provides an inside look into the evolving world of country music and how a new generation of female artists are challenging the male-dominated industry and finding success despite their disadvantages. There's a lot of great information here about the winding paths of their careers, the creative process, and the history of women in country music. However, the author's determination to promote a more inclusive climate is undercut by her neglect of class and wealth, and an underlying contempt for a large portion of the country fanbase.

I wrote a much longer, much more thorough review over on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4554055838?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1
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I loved the journey this author took to take us back and reveal so much of what might've been hidden or downplayed at the time with regards to these three artists, women in country, and how they were treated by both the country  loving community and the country controllers at the time. So much power has been misused to block talented women from truly thriving in the country music genre and it really does need to be talked about and investigated more.
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SO GOOD. Marissa R. Moss does an absolutely brilliant job of breaking down the history — the actual history— of women in country music and their stories. I love how she makes it a point to say that even though the book focuses on three women in particular, there are so many talented female singer/songwriters whose names you haven’t heard up to this point because they haven’t felt welcomed.  Hopefully that can change soon— I think this book is a great starting point!
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What a powerful book. I love country music and this just added to what I know about the genre. More and more I hope that we can see more women take the reigns and be a larger part of the music. There are legends and there are new voices. I really enjoyed this book. Thank you for the opportunity to read it!
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As a huge fan of what I call alternative country, meaning music that has a country sound but is not played on country radio, I was excited to hear that Marissa Moss was going to tackle this issue of the extreme lack of diversity on country radio which reinforces why I gave up on country radio a long time ago.
This book is much needed, and I really hope that it changes a few (hundred or thousand or tens of thousand) minds about this stupid metaphor of women being the tomato in the country salad. UGH! My fear, though, is that the men (and women who sidle up to these men to get/maintain the smallest shred of power they have) who really need to read this won't. In fact, they will no doubt attack Marissa for being a "New York Jew who doesn't know real country:" a typical attack on anyone that dares question the status quo in Nashville. Don't get me started on the misogyny and racism that is rampant in a lot of entertainment genres, not just country music, but the focus here is the women of country and how their careers and lives are affected by the people at the top.
Moss focuses on Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton, and Kacey Musgraves, but Miranda Lambert and others play a big role in this book. The timelines could get a bit jumbled, and some stories felt like they ended too soon, but overall this is an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at the women trying to share their "three chords and the truth" with the rest of us. 
Thank you to NetGalley and Henry Holt for the ARC.
Now, excuse me while I go buy some music from Margo Price, Rissi Palmer, Brittney Spencer and SO MANY others!
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I’ve been impatiently waiting for this book since the day Marissa announced it. I was not disappointed in the slightest. This book is a must have for country music fans especially those who love the amazing women in country music! Five out of five stars!
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A must-read for conflicted fans of country music like myself. 

This book charts the challenging rise of women in country music post-1990s. While focused on the careers of Kacey Musgraves, Mickey Guyton, and Maren Morris specifically, the author references many other artists who pushed the boundaries of country music both on and off stage. Lots of interesting behind the scenes stories and you'll leave with a new appreciation of all the artists profiled. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an eARC in exchange for this review.
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I've been eagerly awaiting this book ever since the author announced it, as a fan of her country music journalism, but especially as a woman from Virginia who loves country music and is a rare country fan in NYC. I do have a complicated relationship with country music, and I loved this book's examination of the incredible women in country right now and the powers working against them. I think the focus on Kacey, Maren, and Mickey works but does get repetitive. I wish she focused on more women, perhaps structuring the book that way, or at least expanding her scope beyond mentions. The strength lies in Moss' deep knowledge and experience with Nashville and Music Row, and the closer look at country stars (and the machine behind them) than we typically see. She does a good job drawing out the layered issues in country music and making an outsider understand the business and unusual regimented path to country success.
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A country-music ballad of almost a century of male domination in the industry gets a much-needed update in Nashville-based journalist Moss’s stunningly crafted debut book. Moss takes an inside look at the feminine revolution in country music via three of the genre’s current working artists: Mickey Guyton, Maren Morris, and Kacey Musgraves. Their journeys breaking into—and out of—the country-music mold are Moss’ focus as she makes a point of highlighting race, sexuality, and other factors that have impacted women’s success in the industry. Moss interlocks her subjects’ stories for a captivating structure, jumping between them to effectively create a cohesive narrative of feminist uprising in “the good ol’ boys club.” This must read for music fans displays Moss’ extensive knowledge of Nashville’s Music Row scene; she’s been writing on women in country music for years, and she speaks of the genre’s ebbs and flows with an authoritative, assertive voice. As she writes in her introduction, “This book is the story of how country’s women fought back against systems designed to keep them down.” Her Country speaks (sings, really) volumes about the rise of female artists in country music, and how far they still have to climb.

(copyright March 1, 2022, Booklist)
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I grew up listening to 90s country, which was full of powerful women's voices: Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, The Dixie Chicks (now The Chicks), and many more. Although I no longer regularly listen to country music--other than attending some bluegrass concerts in my area--I was intrigued by this look at the major disparities and difficulties modern female country singers, especially those who are Black and/or LGBTQ+, face. 

Moss has a rich narrative writing style that immediately pulls you in as you follow these enormously talented and hardworking performers through ups and downs. Although country music fans who are concerned about the current state of mainstream country music are its primary audience, this will be enjoyed by anyone interested in books covering the entertainment industry. 

Many thanks to Henry Holt and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Extensively researched and with dozens upon dozens of personal interviews and firsthand accounts, Moss delivers a vividly drawn portrait of three iconic women breaking the rules of country music. While putting under a microscope the sexism and endless other forms of inherent bias that seek to marginalize progressive artists and sabotage promising careers, Her Country also explores the artifice of patriotism and common man-ness constructed by an industry that makes its living by unconsciously stoking the flames of division and "otherness." This would have been five stars for me if Moss had gone further to shine a light on the next generation of artists coming up in the wake of the trailblazers featured here - and maybe offered a something in the way of a call to action for readers. How can readers and country music fans help to change things? And, photos would have added another dimension. Moss's writing is solid and clever in unexpected ways, but there can be a bit of repetitiveness to some of her points and supporting evidence. Where I'd offer the most critique, however, is with the publisher's decision to go with such a binary title in a book that's so heavily focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Overall, this is an important read and lifts the veil for readers who may unfamiliar with how the music business - and specifically country music - operates and wields its power.

I received a digital pre-publication copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I'll be including it in a TBR round-up for Women's History Month in March.
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Marissa R. Moss's feminist history of the last quarter-century or so of country music is a welcome counter to the onslaught of beers-and-back-roads bro country. Moss focuses on three of the newest leading ladies of country (none of whom get significant airtime on country radio): Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, and Mickey Guyton. Moss tracks how these three artists moved through the Texas music scene to the Nashville songwriting scene and eventually to larger and larger stages, all without the support and publicity that mainstream (read: white, male) country stars tend to garner. Moss contextualizes the new women of country's rise with the virtual banishment of women from country radio in the wake of 9/11 and the Chicks' infamous blacklisting. While the prose is quite readable, I felt that it could've used a stronger edit--some sentences were repeated in various chapters, and context often came long after the reference (evidence, I suspect, that the book went through several structures). I would've liked to see an even longer history of women in country music--stars like Reba McEntire and Loretta Lynn seem at turns bizarre anomalies and reminiscent of some great heyday of female superstardom; race, moreover, is a constant presence in the book, but it never feels like Moss is pushing quite as hard as she could to explore the intersecting oppressions that force so many queer / BIPOC artists out of the genre altogether.
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This book does a great job examining the current state of country music and the systemic, structural sexism endemic to the industry and what is and isn't being done to change it. The trajectories of Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris and Mickey Guyton's careers exemplify these challenges over the past two decades and this book is a deep dive and testament to their talent and influence.
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Her Country by Marissa R Moss is an engaging read that will satisfy readers ranging from fans of country music to those interested in women's studies and systemic sexism. The writing is very good and even the parts that most clearly illustrate the good ol' boys club stops short of being preachy and is more about the strength of these women who are, whether they want to or not, battling it and paving the way for those who will come after.

I do not listen to country music as my preferred genre, though the country music I like I tend to really like. So while I was looking forward to the music industry anecdotes that wasn't the main reason I came to the book. I was interested in an inside look at exactly how the industry exercises its own type of sexism, heterosexism, and racism. Not because I thought the country music industry was unusual in these things but each industry and field seems to have their own of making these things seem like they are right and rational.

For the most part the stories of these performers is told in such a way that anyone simply wanting to read about them won't be disappointed. The obstacles they faced (and still face) and the things they did to circumvent them makes for an intriguing narrative. If you didn't know very much of this backstory you no doubt had a lot of respect for their music. This will shed new light on just how phenomenal these women are as human beings as well as artists.

Highly recommended for fans of country as well as anyone with an interest in the obstacles that face women in not only country music but pretty much every industry.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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GIRL POWER! I’ll admit right up front- I’ve long appreciated the attitudes of the three women featured in this book (Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton, and Kacey Musgraves) without actually listening to their music. But now they, and many others mentioned, have their own playlist that’s getting frequent play in my car.

Even though I wasn’t already familiar with much of the music discussed here, I was still fascinated by the inside look at Nashville and the machine that is the music business there. Moss deftly pulls back the curtain to show the everyday sexism and racism that is embedded into the fabric of the Nashville music business - and vividly portrays the young musicians who have helped begin to change it.
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