While female country music singers in the US are still having trouble getting played on the radio, over in the UK it’s actually a refreshingly different story, with leading UK female country music artists getting a lot of airplay, and not just from country radio stations such as Chris Country and Country Hits Radio, but also from BBC Radio 2. Liverpudlian singer-songwriter Laura Oakes is just one of several female UK country stars to find her songs playlisted on Radio 2, including recent single Welcome to the Family.
I recently had the chance to ask Laura a few questions, with one (slightly mischievous) question that I asked being that given the support that UK radio has given to our own female artists, did she think that UK radio could actually teach US country radio stations a thing or two when it comes to playlisting female country artists?
“We are so lucky in this country for the support that females do get on the radio and BBC radio have always been an amazing support,” she replied. “It’s important for women to hear songs that are from their point of view and that they can relate to on the radio!”
The interview took place just a few days before the postponement of this year’s Country to Country Festival on March 12 as a result of the pandemic. While we now know that the festival has been postponed until March 2021, at the time of our interview with Laura the festival was still going ahead, and Laura was looking forward to playing both the Town Hall Stage and the Icon Stage on the Sunday. Hopefully she’ll still be doing the same next year.
“I cannot wait! It’s like country Christmastime! I was at the very first C2C in 2013 just as a fan. To see how it’s grown in the last 7 years, and to be a part of it, is such a joy and an honour. There are so many I’m looking forward to seeing. The artist community makes it so exciting too because so many of my friends and peers are playing—Holloway Road are always great and I’m excited catch Catherine McGrath and Twinnie’s sets.”
I also wanted to ask Laura about the Liver Girls collective, which is an all-female Liverpool singer-songwriter collective that Laura co-founded.
“It was initially the idea of one of our Liver girls, Siobhan Maher Kennedy. She is originally from Liverpool but has been over in Nashville for over 20 years and wanted to bring the writers’ round culture of Nashville to Liverpool. We had known each other for a few years and eventually decided to get our first live round show together in summer last year. It was so successful and such an awesome way of celebrating all the female writing talent in Liverpool. We are planning to do loads more!”
Of course, since we last spoke to Laura, the worldwide situation has changed dramatically, with much of the world currently sequestered in their homes due to the pandemic, and many artists have turned to giving virtual concerts and playing music directly to the fans online to keep not just the fans entertained and inspired, but also themselves.
Laura has been no exception to this, keeping the fans entertained with daily live events on Facebook. She also just released her latest EP, How Big is Your World, on Friday, March 27, which includes the aforementioned previous singles Welcome to the Family and Better in Blue Jeans, the latter of which Laura said this about:
“I actually wrote Blue Jeans a few years back with one of my favourite co-writers Danny Cope. It’s all about not forgetting where you’re from and being proud of what you’ve achieved without feeling like you have to hide your struggle to get there. It’s my absolute favourite song to perform live, so I had to release it as a single!”
And in a strange twist of fate, the EP’s title track, “How Big is Your World,” now has even more potency, as a beacon of light in dark times.
Here’s what Laura had to say about this herself in a recent online post:
“What feels so weird to me is that the title track ‘How Big is Your World’ was written 18 months ago, in a time when none of us could have ever imagined the reality we are currently in – what’s so unbelievably weird is this song feels like it might as well have been written about this unique situation.
“For a lot of us, our world doesn’t extend beyond our own front doors right now – but this song was created to say that if our hearts and minds are open to each other – if we accept, help and care for each other – our world can be as big as we want it to be.”
Indeed. As BOON’s Gaz Williams says in his review of the EP this latest collection of songs from Laura “will take your mind off the worries of the world,” which is definitely something we’re all in need of at the moment!
Hopefully it won’t be too long before everything starts getting back to normal again and we can start going to see our favourite artists live once more, but for now, supporting them in online virtual events like these seems like the way to go, and don’t forget to check out Laura’s Facebook page for live chats and acoustic performances, and general food for the soul to keep us all smiling, positive, and hopeful. https://www.facebook.com/lauraoakesofficial/
By Maura Sutton