Country Music Has Found Its Weinstein Scandal. So Why Hasn’t There Been A Reckoning?

It had been seven weeks since Austin Rick began telling his story, and he was indignant. In October 2017, Rick posted on Fb that in 2008 Kirt Webster, who represented a few of nation music’s greatest stars, repeatedly coerced him into sexual acts. Rick mentioned this continued till sooner or later the 21-year-old singer awoke bare in mattress subsequent to Webster with no reminiscence of how he’d gotten there.

When Rick posted his story on Fb on Oct. 27, within the midst of #MeToo, he needed to ensure the outstanding publicist by no means abused anybody once more. Though Webster, 43, claimed by means of a consultant that his former consumer’s story was “unfaithful,” he stepped away from his agency virtually immediately after it hit the native press. Within the weeks that followed, more than 20 former staff got here ahead with tales of office sexual harassment and undesirable touching. Talking with BuzzFeed Information, three extra described a hellish work life with a boss who always made crude jokes and talked about his staff’ our bodies, pantomimed masturbation within the workplace, and bragged about buying and selling entry to his greatest consumer, Dolly Parton, for nude photographs; one mentioned Webster invited him and one other man to a “sleepover.” The overall quantity of people that have come ahead with tales of Webster’s office sexual harassment is now properly over two dozen.

Austin Rick (going by stage identify Austin Cody) in 2006.

Courtesy of Austin Rick

Webster retreated from his agency, however his consultant launched a statement saying he had accomplished so “to give attention to combating the egregious and unfaithful allegations made towards him.” He didn’t reply to a number of requests for touch upon an in depth abstract of this story, and has stayed out of the general public eye since November.

Because the variety of voices swelled, Rick hoped that the nationwide reckoning with sexual assault and harassment would hit nation music too.

He’s nonetheless ready. Rick mentioned one factor distinguished Nashville’s sidestep from the eruptions in Hollywood, media, and government: A overwhelming majority of nation artists and executives have refused to even acknowledge something is mistaken.

Former staff mentioned they needed Webster roundly condemned, and what they bought was a sprinkle of tepid disapproval. Many merely needed Webster’s former shoppers to say “I consider you.” “Dolly Parton hopes that we're all mendacity,” Rick mentioned with a scoff, referring to the statement she put out following Rick’s allegations, that she was “hoping” the tales weren’t true. “Thanks, Dolly, that's nice.” Parton didn’t reply to requests for touch upon this story.

Parton and Child Rock, amongst others, dropped Webster as their consultant. Child Rock launched a extra sharply worded assertion than Parton’s, however nonetheless mentioned that he too hoped the allegations had been false. Most individuals related to Webster mentioned nothing concerning the allegations, together with his agency’s second-in-command, Jeremy Westby, who was introduced as Webster’s successor earlier than leaving to begin an unbiased agency on Nov. 2. Westby is Webster’s long-term romantic associate, 12 former staff advised BuzzFeed Information; public data present the lads dwelling on the identical handle from 2013 by means of November 2017. Westby didn’t touch upon the allegations towards Webster or on whether or not they had been nonetheless a pair. “Kirt has not been and isn’t concerned in my new firm,” he mentioned.

There was no pronounced assist for the individuals who mentioned Webster harm them, and thus, in contrast to in different industries, there was no sign to different victims that now was the time to begin naming names.

“I’m afraid it’s all gonna go away.”

Victims noticed this hush as an indication that sexual misconduct was not taken significantly in Nashville, and that Webster may catch himself midfall. Some additionally mentioned this despatched a chilling message to different victims on Music Row: In the event that they got here ahead, nobody would take up their trigger. In Hollywood, lots of of girls signed on to the Time’s Up initiative to fight sexual abuse, whereas nation had a smattering of essential voices that by no means fairly grew to become a refrain. After a DJ sued Taylor Swift for saying he groped her, she received her countersuit and later donated to Time’s Up, and artists like Kacey Musgraves and Maren Morris have criticized harassment within the trade. However Rick and the previous staff, for probably the most half, felt completely alone.

And as Webster dropped out of headlines and native police determined that the allegations had been too previous to pursue a case, it was unclear what the precise penalties for the publicist can be. A former worker mentioned, “I’m afraid it’s all gonna go away.” It’s a pressure of unease that’s sinking in all throughout the nation. The query of what occurs after #MeToo haunts Rick and the dozen former staff who spoke to BuzzFeed Information.

“Anybody who desires to see professional change, that is our window of alternative proper right here,” Rick mentioned. “If nobody else will get up and assist me, then I’ll simply preserve at it.”

From left: Jeremy Westby, Kirt Webster, Dolly Parton, and Danny Nozell in 2012.

Rick Diamond / Getty Photographs

Almost all of the 23 artists, writers, and employees at publicity companies, a document firm, and an company interviewed for this story mentioned nation music stays a small, insulated trade the place status is every thing and there are extra whistleblowers on the blacklist than predators. And whereas Webster could also be gone, ladies and men in Nashville say a tradition of silence stays. One former Webster PR worker mentioned that her present boss approached her after the allegations towards Webster broke and advised her to remain out of it. “He saved repeating, ‘You don’t have anything to achieve by coming ahead,’” she mentioned.

There’s ample proof that sexual harassment in Nashville isn’t up for dialogue. Reached this week, Danny Nozell, Parton’s supervisor and Webster’s longtime good friend and affiliate, mentioned he didn’t learn about any sexual harassment allegations earlier than they grew to become public and declined to remark additional on the allegations towards his colleague. When BuzzFeed Information requested 12 companies that beforehand labored with Webster or his shoppers whether or not they would work with him sooner or later, solely two, Kicker Nation Stampede and Reviver Leisure Group, mentioned they’d not work with him once more. “We now have no plans to work with him once more sooner or later, regardless of this matter, and definitely now wouldn’t think about working with him once more due to this matter,” mentioned Reviver’s president and CEO, David Ross.

“He saved repeating, ‘You don’t have anything to achieve by coming ahead.’”

Time Life and the Nation Music Affiliation answered not directly, each saying they weren’t at present planning to work with him, whereas Massive Machine Label Group, which labored with Webster by means of his shoppers, mentioned, “It’s not the tradition of the Massive Machine Label Group to condone any such conduct at any degree from anybody we affiliate with.” The opposite seven entities — Sony, the Academy of Nation Music, L3 Administration, Vector Administration, Outback Live shows, Neste Leisure, and Nation Thunder Music Festivals — didn’t reply in any respect or declined to remark.

On Feb. 5, Nation Radio Seminar revoked press credentials for NewsChannel 5 reporter Jesse Knutson and requested him to go away the premises after he advised the occasion’s public relations consultant that he deliberate to ask questions on how CRS was addressing the sexual harassment and misconduct in radio recently documented by Rolling Stone. On Wednesday, after NewsChannel 5 reported on the debacle, CRS officers agreed to an interview with Knutson. CRS didn’t reply to BuzzFeed Information’ a number of requests for remark.

It was reported just last week that the disgraced nation music DJ David Mueller — who a jury determined groped Taylor Swift — was employed at a radio station in Mississippi. And as a parade of males in movie and TV had been being outed as harassers and publicly castigated, one of many solely folks within the nation music trade to talk brazenly about sexual misconduct discovered herself embroiled in a lawsuit. In October, singer Katie Armiger mentioned she was groped by radio DJs a number of occasions all through her profession — and was blacklisted for openly complaining about it. Two weeks later, Armiger was sued by her former label, Chilly River Data, for allegedly breaching her nondisclosure settlement.

Recording artist Katie Armiger attends the Dial World Radio Remotes in 2013.

Jason Kempin / Getty Photographs

Armiger declined to remark instantly on the continuing lawsuit towards her, however mentioned that in nation music, victims are nonetheless anticipated to maintain quiet about sexual harassment. “For those who're a feminine artist and also you converse out, that would restrict your probabilities of being performed [on the radio] once they're already slim to none,” she advised BuzzFeed Information.

And if girls are anticipated to endure objectification, the foundations are even much less clear for males who report abuse by different males.

“For those who're a feminine artist and also you converse out, that would restrict your probabilities of being performed.”

Alex Caress, the lead singer of Little Bandit and one of many few out musicians in nation, rattled off a listing of queer artists that was so quick he mentioned it made him really feel unhappy. Caress thinks the trade by and huge refused to handle the allegations towards Webster as a result of “to be able to try this, you kind of must acknowledge that homosexual folks exist, and that doesn’t appear to be one thing that they’re interested by.”

And Music Row’s squeamishness was evidenced by the way in which Webster performed his personal life.

Former staff advised BuzzFeed Information that Webster lived with “one foot nonetheless within the closet”; a number of mentioned that the publicist expressed shock when folks ascertained that he was homosexual. When he labored for particularly conservative shoppers — one supply remembered Mitt Romney, one other remembered the Academy of Nation Music Awards — Webster would actively conceal his sexuality, reserving two lodge rooms for himself and his boyfriend, Westby, on a enterprise journey as a substitute of 1.

When Rick was nonetheless attempting to make it as a rustic music artist, worry that Webster might destroy his fledgling profession saved him quiet. After he left the trade, he stayed quiet partially due to disgrace, enhanced by the stigma of being a male sufferer. “I felt like a disgusting excuse for all times, and so I didn't inform anyone,” he mentioned.

“I felt like a disgusting excuse for all times, and so I didn't inform anyone.”

Disgrace saved Webster’s male workers feeling trapped too. One former Webster PR worker mentioned he would solely converse to BuzzFeed Information on situation of anonymity, largely as a result of most of his household doesn’t know he’s homosexual, and he hasn’t advised them that Webster pinched his nipples within the workplace and repeatedly confirmed him a dildo he saved in his desk and talked about one other worker “sitting on it.”

That disgrace, combined with worry of retaliation, has saved individuals who say they had been harassed by Webster from figuring out themselves even after his identify has turn out to be synonymous with abuse allegations. And that, in flip, has made it simpler for Nashville to observe its impulse to disregard a possible controversy till it goes away, with none critical reckoning.

Kirt Webster in 2015.

Rick Diamond / Getty Photographs

Webster himself relied on a system of express intimidation, sources advised BuzzFeed Information, relying on the small measurement of the trade — and his stature inside it — to encourage folks to remain in his good graces. Two former staff recalled an incident from round 2015 the place a job posting appeared in an trade publication, Nation Aircheck, with out itemizing the agency; a number of days later, Webster knowledgeable his workers that he himself had written the advert, calling it a loyalty take a look at. It made one girl who labored there suppose any job posting could possibly be a entice.

“If nobody else will get up and assist me, then I’ll simply preserve at it.”

And Rick mentioned when he was nonetheless attempting to make it as a rustic star, Webster would gesture in his workplace to the numerous photographs of himself with highly effective folks and recommend that he might give Rick that type of profession. Rick believed him. He additionally believed that Webster might take that profession away. In a small trade, these in Webster’s circle had been satisfied the phrase of 1 highly effective man who felt wronged might derail your Nashville hopes. Now, watching folks like Armiger publicly flail makes them suppose they had been proper.

However the mechanisms that preserve folks quiet don’t apply to Rick anymore: “The issue with Kirt is he picked on somebody, he victimized somebody … who has nothing to lose,” he mentioned. He was decided, and strengthened by the supportive emails and messages he’s obtained from different victims — each women and men— within the trade. Rick continued, “If nobody else will get up and assist me, then I’ll simply preserve at it. I’ll preserve at it so that each time [Webster] reveals his head, that he’s going to be confronted about it. I signify lots of people now.”

As a result of he mentioned so many had been nonetheless silent or anonymous, Rick added the inverse of #MeToo: “It’s not simply me.” ●

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30 Sexy Country Songs For Doin' It Cowgirl Style

Considered one of my favourite issues concerning the boot-scootin’ style is that its actually good at making you are feeling issues. It might make you feel sad, nostalgic, or like all you want is a beer and truck to make you cheerful. There are additionally some nice love songs from the style – and never nearly being in love, however makin’ love (that is what you name it in nation converse). So when you’re gonna take a roll within the hay with somebody, severe or not, listed here are the nation songs that’ll get you within the temper:

  1. “Should Be Doin’ Somethin’ Proper,” Billy Currington
  2. “Come a Little Nearer,” Dierks Bentley
  3. “Your Man,” Josh Turner
  4. “Let’s Make Love,” Faith Hill and Tim McGraw
  5. “Come to Mattress,” Gretchen Wilson
  6. “Raining on Sunday,” Keith Urban
  7. “You Should not Kiss Me Like This,” Toby Keith
  8. “Do not You Wanna Keep,” Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson
  9. “I Soften,” Rascal Flatts
  10. “Breathe,” Religion Hill
  11. “Want You Now,” Woman Antebellum
  12. “Come Over,” Kenny Chesney
  13. “Alone With You,” Jake Owen
  14. “I Could Hate Myself within the Morning,” Lee Ann Womack
  15. “Gettin’ You House,” Chris Younger
  16. “I Do not Need This Evening to Finish,” Luke Bryan
  17. “Loopy One Extra Time,” Kip Moore
  18. “Hold Me Up All Evening,” Julie Roberts
  19. “I might Like to Be Your Final,” Gretchen Wilson
  20. “Let Me Contact You For Awhile,” Alison Krauss and Union Station
  21. “Over,” Blake Shelton
  22. “Take a look at Me,” Carrie Underwood
  23. “Nothing on however the Radio,” Gary Allen
  24. “Amazed,” Lonestar
  25. “Strawberry Wine,” Deana Carter
  26. “Strip It Down,” Luke Bryan
  27. “Like a Wrecking Ball,” Eric Church
  28. “About to Get Actual,” Easton Corbin
  29. “Backseat,” Kip Moore
  30. “Audio system,” Sam Hunt

Simply bear in mind: you will must obtain the free Spotify software program or app to take heed to our playlists!

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32 Country Christmas Songs to Put You in the Spirit of the Season

Feeling festive? We have pulled collectively a few of our favourite country Christmas songs, an ideal mix of new hits and nostalgic classics that may have you ever buzzing alongside at your desk or in your manner home for the holidays.

Pay attention to our Spotify playlist under!

  1. “Tennessee Christmas,” Amy Grant
  2. “A Willie Good Christmas,” Kacey Musgraves and Willie Nelson
  3. “I will Be House For Christmas,” Brett Eldredge
  4. “O Holy Night time,” Luke Bryan
  5. “Christmas Spirits,” Jake Owen and Parmalee
  6. “Santa Appeared a Lot Like Daddy,” Brad Paisley
  7. “Have Your self a Merry Little Christmas,” Kelsea Ballerini
  8. “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” Girl Antebellum
  9. “Christmas Do not Be Late,” Kacey Musgraves
  10. “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” Rascal Flatts
  11. “It is Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” Bryan and Katie Torwalt
  12. “The place Are You Christmas,” Faith Hill
  13. “House,” Blake Shelton and Michael Bublé
  14. “The Naughty Listing,” Phil Vassar and Kellie Pickler
  15. “Come On, Christmas,” Matthew West
  16. “Merry Christmas Child,” Hunter Hayes
  17. “The First Noel,” Chris Younger
  18. “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow,” Martina McBride
  19. “O Little City of Bethlehem,” Reba and Darius Rucker
  20. “Noel,” Chris Tomlin and Lauren Daigle
  21. “Merry Christmas From the Household,” Montgomery Gentry
  22. “Santa Child,” Sarah Darling
  23. “We Want You a Merry Christmas,” Carly Pearce
  24. “Please Come House For Christmas,” Josh Gracin
  25. “Jingle Bells,” Alan Jackson
  26. “Ain’t Santa Cool,” Alabama
  27. “Have Your self a Merry Little Christmas,” Dan + Shay
  28. “All I Need For Christmas Is You,” LeAnn Rimes
  29. “Silent Night time,” Kelly Clarkson, Reba McEntire, and Trisha Yearwood
  30. “Christmas Cookies,” George Strait
  31. “Jingle Bell Rock,” Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert
  32. “Blue Christmas,” Brett Eldredge

Keep in mind, you have to to obtain the free Spotify software program or app to hearken to our playlists.

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People Are Trolling A Country Singer Who Debuted A Song Called "Take A Knee, My Ass (I Won’t Take A Knee)”

Neal McCoy was most certainly not instructing his derriere to take a knee. However the jury remains to be out.

Nation singer Neal McCoy of Texas debuted his newest music to a dwell viewers final week that was additionally streamed by way of Facebook Live. The music, titled “Take A Knee, My Ass (I Will not Take A Knee),” is a fairly apparent commentary on the continuing debate over kneeling through the nationwide anthem.

Country singer Neal McCoy of Texas debuted his latest song to a live audience last week that was also streamed via Facebook Live. The song, titled "Take A Knee, My Ass (I Won't Take A Knee)," is a pretty obvious commentary on the ongoing debate over kneeling during the national anthem.

Facebook: pg

The efficiency has racked over three million views. Regardless that McCoy carried out the music, he stated a buddy of his truly wrote it. He warned listeners that the music has “a foul phrase in it.” (The unhealthy phrase is “ass,” as within the title and hook of the music, “Take a knee, my ass.”)

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Right here's a fast transcription of a few of its impassioned lyrics:

I’ll honor those who gave all of it
So we’re all free to go play ball
If just for their sake
I gained’t take a knee

Arm and arm, facet by facet
America’s heroes fought and died
Is displaying some respect an excessive amount of to ask?
I communicate for these whose freedom was not free
And I say
Take a knee
My ass

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Folks within the feedback completely love the music and its commentary.

People in the comments absolutely love the song and its commentary.


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Meghan Linsey: In Country Music, “You’re Supposed To Sing And Shut Your Mouth”

Meghan Linsey

Rick Diamond / Getty Pictures

Within the fall of 2016, nation singer Meghan Linsey got here ahead on social media with a sexual assault allegation towards an unnamed trade heavyweight. Disgusted by Donald Trump’s angle towards girls — particularly, his remark that he would “seize ’em by the pussy” — Linsey wrote of her own experience with groping. The Voice star mentioned that, in 2010, “a really highly effective man within the music enterprise grabbed up my skirt. He was groping me and proceeded to attempt to decide me up by my ass on a bus in entrance of a number of essential folks.” She rejected him, and the subsequent night time he instructed her he might drop her into the center of the ocean the place she’d by no means be heard from once more, she recalled in a Fb publish.

When she publicly instructed her story final 12 months, she acquired some assist — but additionally appreciable scorn. Commenters criticized her for not naming the person she mentioned assaulted and threatened her; some questioned her choice to attend six years to say something; and others instructed her that this sort of abuse must be anticipated within the leisure trade. “It was very combined critiques a 12 months in the past, and a part of that was the explanation I didn’t come out with the title,” she mentioned, days earlier than the discharge of her new album, Daring Like a Lion. She declined once more to call him to BuzzFeed Information this November.

Linsey has watched with curiosity because the surge of sexual misconduct allegations towards movie producer Harvey Weinstein prompts public allegations towards a collection of highly effective males, lots of whom work in different industries. However she’s undecided whether or not that can occur for nation.

“I hope that individuals begin to open their eyes to it and see what’s happening.”

“Nation music is so hush-hush about every little thing,” she mentioned. “It’s a lot tougher to talk out.”

Linsey was insistent that, though nation music has largely averted the fallout of the Weinstein revelations, it does have an issue with harassment and assault. In line with her, there are abusers within the trade whose misdeeds are open secrets and techniques. She pointed to Kirt Webster, the highly effective nation music publicist whose purchasers included Dolly Parton: Simply this week, Austin Rick, his former shopper, publicly alleged that Webster molested and sexually assaulted him. Webster denied the allegations, however his agency, Webster Public Relations, was promptly renamed, and a spokesperson introduced Webster had gone on go away.

“When you will have an individual like [Webster], everyone form of is aware of, and no person says something,” Linsey mentioned. “Folks do dismiss it, and so they go, 'properly, he’s so essential, he works with all these folks.' I hope that individuals begin to open their eyes to it and see what’s happening. … This enterprise is so small — it’s such a small city.”

For actual change within the nation music trade to occur, she mentioned, “Extra persons are gonna have to start out talking out.”

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She mentioned that after she wrote in 2016 about being groped, a number of girls got here to her and instructed her they’d been harassed or assaulted by the identical man, too. However all these conversations occurred “beneath the desk … a number of girls in nation music really feel like they will’t say something, and so they can’t discuss,” she mentioned. Privately, they instructed her “he’s handsy and grabby and thinks that he can do no matter he needs.”

There’s an expectation within the nation music trade that performers ought to by no means handle something which may provoke their followers: “You’re alleged to sing and shut your mouth,” Linsey defined. As she understands it, that features a code of silence on allegations of sexual harassment or assault. She recalled each her supervisor and the top of her label on the time telling her she mustn’t pursue any motion or make accusations towards the person she mentioned groped and threatened her, as a result of it might be detrimental to her profession. Neither Large Machine Label Group nor Linsey’s supervisor from 2010 responded to BuzzFeed Information’ request for additional remark, though the label denied her account final 12 months, saying that it might “by no means” condone such harassment and would by no means advise an artist to not complain about it.

Linsey shouldn’t be afraid of controversy: She took a knee after singing the nationwide anthem throughout an NFL recreation in September, exhibiting her solidarity with protests towards police brutality confronted disproportionately by black People. On the time, she wrote within the Washington Post, “My choice could damage my profession, nevertheless it was the one alternative for me. This trigger is extra essential than my report gross sales.”

Regardless of her demonstrated moxie, the chance in naming her alleged assailant is just too nice to bear alone, she mentioned. She famous that as influential girls comparable to Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Rose McGowan instructed their tales about Weinstein, it made it appear safer for others to come back ahead. Linsey mentioned, “As girls, you actually really feel like you possibly can’t say something till you get to a spot in your profession the place you’re successful, and also you’re empowered.”

Till girls within the nation music trade band collectively, Linsey believes silence will prevail. “While you’re the one one, it’s onerous,” she mentioned.

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30 Country Songs For the Father-Daughter Dance of Your Dreams

On the lookout for the perfect father-daughter dance song? There are a ton of titles from nation artists that can have you ever crying into your signature cocktail. Our ultimate country wedding playlist has a variety of good choices, however I’ve wittled down the 30 finest selections on your father-daughter dance. Earlier than you intend your dream wedding, pay attention to those tear-inducing tracks.

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