The Women Fighting Sexism in Country Music

Massachusets-native, singer-songwriter, Abi Rider

When most people hear the words “country music”, they think of buff, white men in a plaid shirt and jeans holding a guitar in one hand and a beer in the other, probably sitting in the back of their pickup truck. I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that a few months ago, that’s also what I thought of. Just hearing someone say that their favorite genre is country music was enough to make me cringe inside. But then, I met Abi Rider.

Abi is a bundle of energy, excitement, and passion for country music. She showed me artists such as Maren Morris, Lauren Alaina, Kelsea Ballerini, and Little Big Town. They all had fierce voices, articulated guitar lines, and an attitude that screamed “I don’t give a f*ck.” Following in the footsteps of these women, Abi Rider hopes to change people’s perceptions of country music and what the genre could be. Her new singles, “On Top” and “NY-100” are both reminiscent of the tropes in the genre (four-on-the-floor, accentuated vowels and full-bodied chords on the guitar) and, at the same time, her lyrics are progressive and make use of her clever metaphors.

We sat down with Abi Rider to ask her about her musical journey and what led her to where she is now. Rider is currently a rising sophomore at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music where she is studying to become a singer-songwriter.

How did you get into music and songwriting? Tell us about your journey.

I started singing when I was 6 because my sister started taking singing lessons and I just thought that sounded fun. I wrote my first song for my dad’s birthday when I was 9 because I wanted to make him something that was as personal as possible — just about him and me. The song was a confusing jumble with about 10 different song sections, but I had fun making it. From then on, I only ever wanted to sing things that were my own. I wanted to express my own thoughts and feelings, not someone else’s. However, it wasn’t until I was about 16 that I discovered country music, and realized that that was the style I felt most connected to and wanted to use to share my message.

What/who are your musical inspirations?

My first big inspiration was Ed Sheeran. It was easily accessible, and it felt like ‘real’ music (aka, it had deep messages and was more man-made than machine-made). But ever since I discovered country music, I’ve mainly been inspired by strong women in country. For example, Maren Morris, Ingris Andress, Maddie & Tae, Kelsea Ballerini, Lauren Alaina, Carly Pearce, Ashley McBryde, and Lainey Wilson. Here’s a playlist of some of my favorites from them!

What’s the story behind your most recent release, “NY-100”?

“NY-100” is an ode to the road. I wrote it almost entirely in one night on a midnight drive in January. It’s about how the right environment can trick you into falling for someone who isn’t right for you. Specifically, it tells the story of falling in love with both a road and a person simultaneously, and how the two narratives intertwine. I recorded a demo in my bedroom the same week that I wrote it, and it was the first song that I produced almost entirely by myself.

What are you currently working on? What should your fans look forward to?

My next song, “If You Loved Me,” is coming out on August 27th! Click here to pre-save it. I plan to release [new songs] every 6–8 weeks until I have a collection together.

If you could play any instrument, what would it be?

I really wish I was better at the piano. I did play the piano in “If You Loved Me” though, and that turned out not too bad! Pre-save if you wanna hear it ;)

Where do you see yourself after graduating from the Clive Davis Institute?

Probably moving to Nashville, where I can meet other artists who write in a style that’s more similar to mine. But at some point, I do really wanna live in the woods somewhere, too.

What’s your favorite bubble tea flavor?

Rose tea with cheese foam. And as it happens, I’m going to get myself some in an hour :)

Listen to Abi Rider’s new single, “NY-100” here: https://open.spotify.com/track/5CKWVG74JOo2YmiUS3Gcoq?si=848467a4f9784bbe