The Academy of Country Music is has created a special task force to investigate issues surrounding gender equality and diversity in country. The news comes after no women or artists of color were nominated for Entertainer of the Year at this year’s ACM Awards, and as questions about their relative lack of recognition continue to gain attention.
ACM CEO Pete Fisher announced the task force to Billboard earlier this week. It reports the task force will seek to “examine barriers and biases affecting women and underrepresented groups in country music,” and then “provide constructive recommendations about where progress can be made.”
All six of this year’s Entertainer of the Year nominees are white men – and it’s been eight years since a female artist won the ACM’s top prize (it was Taylor Swift way back in 2011). Incredibly, women have only won the award 10 times since it was introduced in 1970. And an artist of color has never taken the award home – although Charley Pride was nominated three times from 1970 – 1972.
The current awareness of the diversity imbalance stretches back to 2015 and the so-called “Tomato-gate” scandal. It was revealed that radio programmers are taught to sprinkle female artists into their playlists – like you would with tomatoes on a salad.
The ACMs task force follows in the footsteps of the Grammy Awards’ parent organization, who made a similar move this year. This year’s 54th ACM Awards will take place live from Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 7, broadcasting on CBS at 8 pm ET.