The Highwomen is a country music group composed of Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires, formed in 2016. The group's self-titled debut album was released on September 6, 2019, by Elektra Records and was produced by Dave Cobb.
|Origin||Nashville, Tennessee, United States|
|Associated acts||Yola, Sheryl Crow, Jason Isbell|
In 2016, when Shires was finishing her record, My Piece of Land, in music producer Dave Cobb's studio, Shires had an idea to create a female country supergroup in homage to the legendary Highwaymen country supergroup (consisting of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson). At the same time, the lack of representation of women artists on country music radio and at country music festivals had been publicly discussed by many, influenced by the Me Too movement and journalists like Marissa Moss. While on tour in her van, while listening to country radio, Shires kept a running list of artists and noticed that there were few women. When she called to request they play more women artists, she was directed to a Facebook page lottery system. Cobb recommended Shires call Carlile, whom she didn't know. Carlile thought it would be fun, and would be an interesting creative project.
The Highwomen project was widely hinted at by Carlile, Morris and Shires before it was officially announced on April 6, 2019. With the name paying homage to the legendary Highwaymen country supergroup, the Highwomen were originally intended to leave the fourth spot in their line-up vacant to allow other female collaborators to join them, with Chely Wright, Courtney Marie Andrews, Margo Price, Janelle Monae and Sheryl Crow mentioned as potential guests. The band, who jokingly refer to the collaboration as a pirate ship experience, said that they see the project as an incubator project that highlights mentorship and support of fellow women artists.
Maren hadn't worked with Cobb before, and remarked on how much she liked tracking live. The band recorded live vocals, live band, harmonies in unison, where the musicians were recording together live in an organic environment at historic RCA Studio A, which Cobb now owns. As part of the experience, some of the members got matching Highwomen tattoos.
The group made their live debut on April 1, 2019 at Loretta Lynn's 87th birthday concert held at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. There, Natalie Hemby was officially revealed as the final member and the quartet performed "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels". Their debut single, "Redesigning Women", and its associated music video featuring female artists including Tanya Tucker, Cam, Lauren Alaina, Cassadee Pope and Wynonna Judd was released on 19 July 2019, with their self-titled debut album (set for release on September 6) becoming available for pre-order on the same day. The song was promoted by country singer Dierks Bentley who released a comedic reading of the lyrics to his YouTube Channel which received praise from Carlile and Morris. Their second single, "Crowded Table", written by band member Hemby and Lori McKenna, was released on July 26, 2019.
In July 2019, the Highwomen performed their first ever full live set at the 60th annual Newport Folk Festival, previewing songs from their upcoming album including "If She Ever Leaves Me", written by Shires, her husband Jason Isbell and Chris Thompkins. With Carlile on lead vocals, Isbell described it as "the first gay country song" which elicited applause from the audience. Other songs performed included "My Only Child", an ode to "suburban moms" performed by Hemby who wrote the track with Shires and Miranda Lambert, "Loose Change", a nod to 70s country written by Morris, Daniel Layus of Augustana, and Maggie Chapman, featuring Morris on lead vocals and "Cocktail and a Song" which was written solely by Shires in honor of her father. Carlile later invited the rest of the Highwomen to join her during her headlining set where, as they originally intended, the group performed alongside other female artists including Amy Ray, Courtney Marie Andrews, Dolly Parton, Jade Bird, Judy Collins, Linda Perry, Lucy Dacus, Our Native Daughters, Sheryl Crow, The First Ladies of Bluegrass, and Yola Carter. Shires said the plan was always to debut their music at Newport with Dolly Parton. The band wore custom suits by Manuel.
Their cover of "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac from the soundtrack of the movie The Kitchen debuted during the film's first trailer and was officially released on August 2, 2019. The title track of their self-titled debut album was released on August 13, 2019. Written by Carlile and Shires with Jimmy Webb, the original writer of "Highwayman", the track that originally inspired the Highwomen's formation, it tells the story of various women throughout history and features guest vocals from British country soul singer Yola Carter and backing vocals from Sheryl Crow. The song is a classic answer song.
The band recorded 15 songs, but only 12 tracks made it on the album. Songwriters included the aforementioned Jimmy Webb, Rodney Clawson, Maggie Chapman, Lori McKenna, Jason Isbell, Peter Levin, Miranda Lambert, Ray LaMontagne, among many others. Many of the songs flip gender roles, with additions of characters like refugee, preacher, Freedom Rider, and a healer, compared to the characters drawn by the Highwaymen songs.
|Title||Details||Peak chart positions||Sales|
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"Redesigning Women"||2019||—||50||—||The Highwomen|
|"The Chain"||46||—[A]||28||Non-album single|
|"Redesigning Women"||2019||Jim Shea|
|"Crowded Table"||John Lloyd Miller|
Awards and nominationsEdit
|2020||Academy of Country Music Awards||Group of the Year||The Highwomen||Nominated|
|CMT Awards||Group Video of the Year||"Crowded Table"||Pending|
- Moss, Marissa R. (19 July 2019). "The Highwomen: In the Studio With Country's Ballsiest New Group". Rolling Stone.
- Weiner, Natalie (3 September 2019). "Country Music Is a Man's World. The Highwomen Want to Change That". The New York Times.
- Hughes, Hilary (23 August 2019). "Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires & Natalie Hemby Unpack The Highwomen's Impact". Billboard.
- Hudak, Joseph (11 June 2019). "Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris Talk Highwomen Project" (Includes two-part audio interview on SiriusXM's channel The Highway with Storme Warren). Rolling Stone.
- Thompson, Stephen (19 July 2019). "Listen: Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, Natalie Hemby Are The Highwomen". NPR.
- Willman, Chris (6 March 2019). "Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires Add Maren Morris to 'Highwomen' Supergroup". Variety.
- McCartney, Kelly (9 September 2019). "Inside the Making and the Movement of The Highwomen". No Depression.
- Moss, Marissa R. (2 April 2019). "See the Highwomen's Live Debut at Loretta Lynn Birthday Show". Rolling Stone.
- Houghton, Cillea (19 July 2019). "The Highwomen Light the Ultimate Bonfire in 'Redesigning Women' Video [Watch]". Taste of Country.
- Thompson, Gayle (24 July 2019). "Dierks Bentley Does Comedic Reading of The Highwomen's 'Redesigning Women'". PopCulture.com.
- Newcomb, Ming Lee (26 July 2019). "Country supergroup The Highwomen share second single "Crowded Table": Stream". Consequence of Sound.
- Willman, Chris (27 July 2019). "Country Supergroup the Highwomen Has a High Time in Newport Folk Festival Debut". Variety.
- Bernstein, Jonathan; Exposito, Suzy (29 July 2019). "Newport Folk Festival 2019: 10 Best Things We Saw". Rolling Stone.
- Hughes, Hilary (29 July 2019). "The 10 Best Moments From the Surprise-Packed 2019 Newport Folk Festival". Billboard.
- Arcand, Rob (2 August 2019). "New Music: The Highwomen Cover Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain": Listen". SPIN.
- Hudak, Joseph (13 August 2019). "Hear the Highwomen's Gender-Swapping Remake of the Highwaymen's Theme Song". Rolling Stone.
- Moss, Marissa R. (4 September 2019). "The Highwomen's Debut Album: Track-by-Track Guide". Rolling Stone.
- Domenghini, Annalise (6 September 2019). "The Highwomen On Feminism, Success, And Dolly Parton". NYLON.
- Caulfield, Keith (September 15, 2019). "Post Malone Scores Second No. 1 Album on Billboard 200 With 'Hollywood's Bleeding'". Billboard. Retrieved September 16, 2019.
- "Billboard Country Update" (PDF). Billboard. September 16, 2019. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
- "The Highwomen Chart History - Americana/Folk Albums". Billboard. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
- "ARIA Australian Top 50 Digital Albums" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. September 16, 2019. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
- "Billboard Canadian Albums: September 21, 2019". Billboard. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
- "Highwomen | full Official Chart history". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
- Bjorke, Matt (March 10, 2020). "Top 10 Country Albums Pure Sales Chart: March 9, 2020". RoughStock. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
- "The Highwomen Chart History - Digital Song Sales". Billboard. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
- "Adult Alternative Songs - February 1, 2020". Billboard. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
- "The Highwomen: Country Digital Song Sales". Billboard. Retrieved April 1, 2020.