The Highwomen will release their self-titled debut album on Friday, Sept. 6, introducing themselves, and their music, to the world. The group, made up of Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby, Brandi Carlile and Amanda Shires, formed the group to shine a light on talented women in country music who often get passed over for male artists, but The Highwomen all insist that their response, via their music, isn't one of anger.
“It’s not in any way, shape or form a rage record against men," Morris maintained to CMA World. "It’s incredibly warm and inclusive.”
The Highwomen would likely never have even formed if not for the inspiration of Shires, who boldly presented the idea to Carlile, even though the two barely knew each other.
“She walked up to me in a bar one day and said, ‘My name is Amanda Shires and I want to start a band with you called The Highwomen,’” Carlile recalled. “I said, ‘We need to call Maren Morris,’ and we did. Maren jumped into this circus immediately, without even hesitating to consider the fact that she had her own album just ready to come out.”
The formation of The Highwomen might have been Shires' idea, but the four women collectively agreed on which direction their music needed to go, by rewriting "Highwayman," originally written by Jimmy Webb and sung by The Highwayman, a similar group formed by Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.
“We got it in our heads to rewrite the theme based around ways that women have been persecuted throughout history and have died for a cause greater than themselves, and so we created characters,” Carlile explained of their version. “We created the character of a woman fleeing civil war, trying to get her kids to safety; a character of a doctor convicted of witchcraft and executed in the Salem witch trials; a Freedom Rider killed on a Greyhound bus ride; and a preacher executed for preaching the Word and heresy.
"We all come together with a message in the end," she added. "It’s a heavy song, but I think it’s needed and beautiful in a big way, too.”
The Highwomen have already said they'd be open to collaborating with other artists, male and female.
“The whole concept is a movement, a really joyful movement, and we’re inviting women to join us in elevating voices of women in country music," Carlile explained. "We’re actively inviting men to get on board with The Highwomen and become a part of the solution to the lack of representation for women in country music right now in a celebratory way. It’s catching and it’s really inspiring to see.”
Photo Credit: Getty images / Cindy Ord