CMT Next Women of Country Tour – Orlando, FL – April 12, 2019

Posted by Greg on Apr 16, 2019 in Music |

Earlier this month, country music celebrated its much-heralded ACM Awards. But after the event, the major news circuits were quick to point out that the role of women in country music continues to diminish. Other than Kacey Musgraves and Ashley McBryde, few if any females won awards. Why that happens is anyone’s guess, but any listen to country music and there are a multitude of females on the charts (Carrie Underwood, Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Miranda Lambert).

In an effort to turn that tide, CMT, AXS and AEG recently launched the Next Women of Country tour. Headlined by Cassadee Pope, the tour also featured newcomers Hannah Ellis and Clare Dunn.

Pope, who just got off an opening slot for Maren Morris, is touring in support of her sophomore album Stages, a digital-only release that has had somewhat moderate success on the charts. Dunn, a guitar-wielding firebird originally from Colorado, recently got off a tour with Bob Seger, while Kentucky-born Hannah Ellis is carving her own unique place in the country music world.

The CMT Next Women of Country tour recently visited Orlando’s Plaza Live and while the crowd was far from teeming, the music was downright impeccable. Though each artist veered more heavily towards country-pop, the standout of the night might have been Dunn and her rocker girl tenacity. Like a cross between Lucinda Williams and Chrissie Hynde, Dunn’s powerhouse vocals were matched by her nuanced guitar playing and a sterling rhyth section. In just eight short songs, her set was fiery, kinetic and downright mesmerizing. Her rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” remains one of the best live moments we’ve seen in 2019.

Ellis, who opened the show, used only an acoustic guitar and though her songs were doe-eyed and homey, there was conviction throughout. A note-perfect rendition of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” was paired well with the cozy pop stylings of “ILY So What” and the more authentic “Home and Hometown.” Weaving comfortably between the soundscapes of Taylor Swift and Maren Morris, Ellis seems destined for a top hit in due time.

Pope’s set, which veered the most towards country-pop had a multitude of winning moments. Current single “Take You Home” opened the set and offered a welcome introduction to the cozy, radio-friendly sound that Pope wears as well as any of her contemporaries. A playful and amiable rendition of Third Eye Blind’s “Never Let You Go” paired well with the wide-eyed “If My Heart Had a Heart.” An acoustic set featuring both Dunn and Ellis found Pope singing the Angie Aparo tune “Cry,” the one Faith Hill made famous and the same one Pope used during her time on NBC’s ever-popular singing competition The Voice. Pope’s only #1 song to date is her Grammy-nominated duet “Think of You” with Chris Young and while Young was not available to lend his vocals, the song was sterling from start to finish. Ditto for the jubilant “Bring Me Down Town” and the lingering “One More Red Light.” As a nod to her pop-punk roots, her backing quartet indulged a version of Hey Monday’s “Homecoming” before yielding to current single “Wasting All These Tears.”

While the concert’s low attendance remains worrisome, the strength of each of these artists should not be overlooked. Each one has carved a unique and awe-inspiring path and here’s to hoping each one of them finds endless success.


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