RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) — When you think of the big names in country music – Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves – it’s hard to imagine it was tough for women to succeed in the genre.

And it isn’t as hard as it used to be after pioneers like Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette and Reba McEntire paved the way. Today’s women are taking country music to a new level with what they’re writing about, according to Kelsey Goelz, the associate curator of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

“They are the progressive drive of the country music genre…many of the male counterparts are not as fearless with their lyric writing,” Goelz said.

Goelz came to Raleigh to help set up an exhibit on loan from the Grammy Museum called The Power of Women in Country Music. The LA version has two major North Carolina country music stars: Emmylou Harris and Rhiannon Giddens. Both of them graduated from UNC-Greensboro. 

They’ve added four more North Carolina-based artists to the exhibit while it’s here. The Greensboro connection is what Goelz says many North Carolinians will be excited about.

“Emmylou Harris…stuck to her roots…even though people were trying to push her into pop and rock,” Goelz said. “Rhiannon Giddens…what she’s doing with Black stories and African-American traditional music, and she’s bringing that to the 21st century.”

R. Reid Wilson who is secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources sees the exhibit as a healing getaway as we ease out of the pandemic.

“It was really tough in the first year or so in the pandemic when there were no live music concerts,” Wilson said. “People will come here and connect to women country music stars who they’ve known and loved for years…but they’ll also be learning about people that maybe they’ve never heard of. If you’re a country music fan, you cannot miss this…if you’re not quite sure, you need to come anyway.”

Goelz says you don’t even have to be a country music fan to enjoy it.

“I think you’ll leave with a new favorite artist. That certainly was my experience,” Goelz said. .

See some of the exhibit in this edition of the Buckley report as well as a list of the musicians who will play live at the museum.