When Little Big TownKaren Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook—took the stage at the Ryman Auditorium during Country Radio Seminar, the brand-new song they almost whispered made people lean in.

With a quiet, acoustic-guitar-driven arrangement that showed off Fairchild’s dusky alto—at times shadowed by Schlapman’s sparkly tone or cushioned in LBT’s signature four-part harmonies—the song cut through the hallowed venue. “The Daughters” is neither protest nor political in nature; instead, Fairchild and her cohorts deliver a few simple truths about growing up female.

Girl, wash your face before you come to the table,
Girl, know your place, be willing and able…

In a world where girl power is marketing gold, the last few years have punched holes in the belief expressed in the reality. Say what you want about equality, but it’s still a boy’s club out there, even though a girl’s place may now be in the Senate or House. But speak up in Music City and see what happens.

#MeToo. #TimesUp. #BelieveWomen. #ImWithHer. #GirlsVoices.

For all the progress that has been made, Country radio remains a female desert, and there’s no urgency to change that. Say what you want about market research, here’s the reality: That silence echoes the uncomfortable, unyielding truth—women’s voices don’t matter.

Girl, watch your mouth and watch your weight
Mind your manners, smile for the camera

When they—little girls, middle-aged women, hot 20-somethings, grandmothers, your wife/sister/assistant—listen to the radio, they hear nothing that reflects their truth, their vulnerabilities, their triumphs.

Pose like a trophy on a shelf
Dream for everyone, but not yourself…
Wash the dishes, feed the kids and clean up all this mess…

That’s the message.

They don’t look like revolutionaries or seem like kamikaze activists. Like a lot of Christians, they hope to make the world better. They—as parents—recognize the messages little girls get when their lives don’t exist on the airwaves.

And you can say whatever you want to your little girls: “You got this!” “You’re a winner!” “You can do anything!”

Change the Conversation. Song Suffragettes. Great work, but they’re preaching to the choir, talking to the ones who aren't part of the problem themselves. Sadly, nothing changes.

Girl, don’t be weak and don’t be strong
Say what you want just as long
As you nod your head with your lipstick on…

Little Big Town are easily the nicest people in country music. Have a benefit? Host a TV segment? Lobby Congress? Fly to another city to do late-night television with Ronnie Milsap, a Hall of Famer most people have forgotten? They’ll be there.

Musically, they’ve never pandered, have always made the genre sound better, offer fun without dumbing it down. Lush harmonies, lean arrangements that don’t Xerox the three things that’ve worked before. And “The Daughters” follows that.

They don’t look like revolutionaries or seem like kamikaze activists. Like a lot of Christians, they hope to make the world better. They—as parents—recognize the messages little girls get when their lives don’t exist on the airwaves.

Karen Fairchild exhaled. She did what artists do—she wrote: Every single self-negating command little girls are told, all conflicting information that’s turned into a core belief system. Right down to the very adult, “And look good in this dress/Damn, I look good in this dress.”

But beyond these “truths,” Fairchild went inside to what she’s been taught about God’s love. Because she knows God doesn’t love little girls any less, nor does he expect them to live in a world without words.

It’s knowing that that pushed her forward. In the questioning, she found a reality.

I’ve heard of God the Son and God the Father
I’m still looking for a God for the daughters...

God isn’t the problem, of course. Society is. It’s hard to be mute in the face of what is going on when you ask yourself, What would God—or Jesus—do? Pop music is filled with females—Ariana, Cardi, Taylor, Rihanna, Nicki, Pink—so how can a genre targeted to women be so tone-deaf?

Thankfully, Little Big Town have perfect pitch. They’re willing to not only say what no one else wants to; they’re not preaching, haranguing or gerrymandering. They’re posing a simple question across a gorgeous, aching melody that shows us—with that same gentle tug as Lee Ann Womack’s stunning six-week #1, “I Hope You Dance”—what matters.

Bye-bye Burbank, hello DTLA. (12/13a)
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Ours is mostly bourbon.
Delicious in salads.
Ours are roasting, but it could be these slim-fit jeans.
An entire Christmas tree made of it. Is what we want. for Christmas.

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