The Highwomen came to be in 2016, when Amanda Shires had the idea to put together an all-female country supergroup, partly in response to the prevalent gender bias of country music radio. Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby and Brandi Carlile gradually joined Shires and the group project was a go.
But the Highwomen want to be more than a musical supergroup. As Carlile explained in a Rolling Stone interview , the Highwomen want to be "a movement." "The Highwomen has become an adjective for any transcendent women's group," she said. "For anyone ….
Amanda Shires came up with the idea for the Highwomen as she listened to country radio while touring America in support of her 2016 album My Piece of Land. State after state, she heard a lack of women on station after station, so she devised the notion of creating a supergroup that would address this problem directly. Shires found no shortage of collaborators.
At the start of their powerful self-titled debut, the Highwomen--four leading women, banded together from distant corners of the country-music universe--go for the genre's androgenic throat. "I was a Highwoman/And a mother from my youth," sings Brandi Carlile, who helped recruit the quartet after fellow singer Amanda Shires realized how few women rank as modern country stars. It is a rewrite of "Highwayman," of course, a composite sketch of the fabled spirit of valiant men.
The Lowdown: Nashville is a culture-war-torn town, a place where Southern conservatism and metropolitan progressivism clash on a daily basis. You may not see the conflict every day, but the underlying tension brought on by good, ol' Southern passive aggression is thick as molasses. At the heart of the war is country music, one of the few establishments left in the hands of an all-powerful, sexually toxic radio industry.