21 December 2017

Liberia: J. Glo, Angie Tonton Complain of Gender Inequality in the Liberian Music Industry

R&B singers J. Glo and Angie Tonton have said the increase in gender inequality this year in the Liberia music industry, which has never been seen before, is the primary factor for the huge decline of female musicians in the industry.

J. Glo and Angie Tonton, who are the first female artists to publicly talk about inequality in the music industry, added that although this problem has been in the industry for years, it is now at an unprecedented high, to the extent that they (females) are seriously being underrepresented in the industry and are not getting fair airplay from radio stations and club DJs.

The two singers noted that the current surge in inequality is seriously crippling the career of female musicians making fans to think that they are not serious.

J. Glo and Tonton explained that whether it is radio or club airplay, festival lineups or industry awards, male artists remain overwhelmingly dominant in the music industry on a number of levels, and it ought not to be so.

"I'm a living witness of this bad treatment in the industry, and because of it, I'm little known in the country, although my songs are recognized outside. The males who control the industry want to silence us. This is a cultural problem that has been in the industry for years and is now at an unprecedented rate," Tonton said.

"Of the 100 most played songs on commercial radio daily, I have noticed that only 15 were by female artists or act with a female lead. When you look at the gender breakdown for more technical roles such as sound engineering and music production, the gap becomes even wider because of the hostile environment created by the men. Nowadays, the only way, they want to help you is that your either give in their demand for sex or you are out of the picture," Angie Tonton said.

J. Glo, echoing her colleague's view, said the music society is heavily biased and that males who dominate the industry are not gender sensitive.

"The situation now is like selling your body for promotion. And since females are refusing, they have decided to block us from the industry by not playing their songs. If you look at awards board, radio and club airplay, women are underrepresented creating a situation to make people think that there's a shortage of talented women in the industry. No, we have too many of them including myself whose songs are not getting the support.

"But the playing field is not level. If you look at two to three years back, there were lots of women in the industry, but the increase in gender inequality has made things difficult for us. Now they have achieved this by making us remain in their shadows. They think that we belong to the home and should not compete with them now. They stereotype us everyday, and this is ridiculous," J.Glo said.

Both artists clarified that they are speaking up now to call public attention to the problem and to find a solution.


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