Sara Evans always thought she had found a forever home in country music. The 48-year-old was born and raised in the genre, and knew from very early in her life that music, and specifically country music, was all she wanted to do.
After releasing several successful albums, including the multi-platinum Born to Fly in 2000, and charting numerous hit singles, Evans found herself – along with other female artists – struggling to have her music, even the older songs, heard at radio.
Now, Evans is working on a new project, but says it won't be pure country, part of her attempt to still make music even when the genre she loves turned its back on her, and other female artists.
"I've already left the genre and not by my own will," Evans told PopCulture.com. "I've been forced out because I'm a woman. Country radio does not play any current music from me whatsoever. They only play the hits. And so I literally don't feel like I'm in the genre anymore. And I hate that because my whole entire life was country music. I grew up on it. I grew up on a farm in Missouri. Country music was just my entire world.
"The way that it's changed," she added, "and the kind of music that it is, the lyrics, and the fact that they don't play women – I really cannot say that I'm even in the genre anymore."
Evans caught plenty of attention at last year's CMT Artists of the Year ceremony, when she confessed on the red carpet that her heart was broken by the lack of women being heard at radio.
"It's true — my kids have watched me sob," Evans admitted (via PEOPLE). "I have been singing since I was 4 years old and I was raised on country music. There is no reason that I am now being shunned after I've made my mark and contributed to the genre."
Evans has since pulled up her proverbial bootstraps and gotten back to work, readying the release of the upcoming Barker Family Band project with her son Avery and daughter Olivia, as well as working on a new, more Americana-leaning project. But as she moves forward, she still mourns the direction country music has taken, leaving her and other female artists behind.
"It's the most ridiculous thing," Evans said. "I'm so not a fan of the bro-country that I can't even explain it. I don't even know what it is. It's not country music. It's not even cool music. It's just the same thing over and over and over and over."
Evans can't think of another form of entertainment where women have been as easily pushed aside, other than country music.
"t's crazy," Evans acknowledged. "It's so bad. And it's so weird; what if Hollywood said, 'We will no longer cast women in movies?' Every movie is just all men. It would be so weird. It's just really weird what's happened. Whoever's programming country radio is just bizarre. It's just a bizarre way of thinking to not play any women."0comments
Evans' Barker Family Band album will be released on April 12.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Ed Rode