Glastonbury: All White Male Headliners A 'Pipeline Problem'

4 March 2023 | 9:58 am | Staff Writer

Glastonbury has amassed criticism for its all-white, all-male headliners.

Arctic Monkeys, Elton John & Guns N' Roses

Arctic Monkeys, Elton John & Guns N' Roses (Zackery Michael, Jaz Meadows, Supplied)

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Arctic Monkeys, Guns N’ Roses and Elton John will head this year's Glastonbury Festival. 

Held from 21 to 25 June at Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset, England, one of the world’s biggest music festivals has amassed criticism for its all-white, all-male headliners. 

In a new interview with The Guardian, Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis addressed the line-up as having a “pipeline problem” regarding the lack of a female headliner. 

Before Covid-19, Taylor Swift was due to headline the 2020 festival before it was cancelled - she’s released three albums since then (Folklore, Evermore and Midnights) that have somehow catapulted her to further fame and acclaim - and as much as Eavis and co. wanted her to make that headlining slot this year, Swift’s Eras US tour dates clash with the festival.

Guns N’ Roses' current drummer, Frank Ferrer, is African American, and the band added a female keyboard player "of Chinese, English, Spanish, Japanese, Filipino, Irish, Scottish and Danish descent," Melissa Reese (per her website), to their lineup in 2016. 

Lizzo is up there with joint-headline billing and could “totally headline”; however, it “had already been promised to someone else,” Eavis said.

As much as having three all-white, all-male headliners will surely irk many, it’s worth remembering the strides in diversity Glastonbury showcases throughout the line-up’s first announcement. 

As The Guardian shares, “46% of those 54 names [in the first line-up announcement] are non-white, or feature non-white members”. These names include Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Amadou & Mariam, Joey Bada$$, Nova Twins, Rina Sawayama, Slowthai, Wizkid and many more. And there are more announcements to come.

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Next year’s Glastonbury will likely be headlined by Rihanna and Madonna, two high-profile artists who have never performed at the festival. One has apparently already signed the contract.

One commenter said about the line-up, “Of the 30 headliners since 2010, only FOUR have been women (Beyonce, Adele, Billie Eilish, Florence and the Machine). Even then, Florence was only a replacement because Foo Fighters had to pull out,” while musician Grace Petrie has taken to Twitter to express her own experiences and concluded, “I’ve done all I can do, all that is in my power to do to be in ‘the pipeline’. I think the blockage is at the other end.”

Find more information on the festival website.