Photos of the Year 2011
June 6: Taylor Swift and Shania Twain during the recreation of 'Thelma & Louise' for CMT Music Awards.

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


Hi Gary,

If I'm seeing correctly, there is not one female soloist appearing by herself as a lead artist on a title in the entire top 30 of this week's Country Songs chart.

How rare is that kind of chart boys club at the format?


Tom Kalina
Owosso, Michigan

Hi Tom,

You are correct.

And, what an insightful observation.

I posed your question to Billboard country chart manager Wade Jessen, who pain-stakingly (but in a labor of love) scoured the top 30 of every Country Songs chart since the survey converted from a collection of reported playlists to Nielsen BDS-monitored data the week of Jan. 20, 1990.

What Wade found turned into several e-mails among members of the chart department, as we realized that the issue was deserving of a thorough analysis.

With the input of those who program country radio, Wade looked not only at the current state of the format, but also its history as it pertains to female artists. (His take on the genre is so all-encompassing that it's the sole focus of this week's "Ask Billboard").

Please scroll to the next page for Wade's study on Country, Where the Girls Aren't.