The Highwomen stopped by to chat with Ellen DeGeneres on her The Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this week. The quartet, made up of Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, Natalie Hemby and Brandi Carlile, spoke about the unusual way the quartet began, thanks to the inspiration of Shires.
"I was inspired by my daughter, I think, because she was starting to show signs of wanting to play music maybe when she grows up," Shires explained. "I thought maybe the worst thing that could happen would be that she would go for country, because there are only currently two women's voices that you can actually hear on the radio."
"Amanda gave me a call and we started putting together this group of women that we loved to represent more women and girls' voices in country music," added Carlile.
Morris is one of a few females who have had success at radio, with the title track of her sophomore GIRL album becoming a No. 1 hit. Still, while grateful for her success, she knows country radio still has a long way to go in representing women in country music.
"They play me, but when you compare it to some of my male peers, it's pretty staggering, still," acknowledged Morris. "And I'm one of the few lucky girls that gets played on country radio. We're just trying to change that."
Shires might have been the one who envisioned The Highwomen, but she didn't move on her idea without a little bit of prodding.
"I called our producer, Dave Cobb, and told him the idea and the intention behind it," Shires recalled. "He said, 'The first person you should work with is Brandi Carlile.' I said, 'Great,' and he gave me her number. The idea of calling someone without knowing them is not me. Six months later, he was like, 'What's going on with The Highwomen? Have you talked to Brandi?' I was like, 'You know, I feel like one day we'll meet.'"
It was Cobb who ultimately made the introduction, taking Shires with him to a Carlile show. The event allowed Shires to tell Carlile her idea, even though she admits the timing wasn't necessarily the best.
"She was about to go on stage, and I just blurted out in her face, 'Hi, I'm Amanda Shires. I want to start a band called The Highwomen with you," Shires recalled.
"I said yes, and here we are," added Carlile with a laugh.
Photo Credit: Getty images / Cindy Ord