November 08, 2017 10:15 PM

Country star Keith Urban is responding to the sexual misconduct scandal roiling Hollywood and other industries with “Female,” a new ballad about female empowerment that he will perform at the Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday night.

Released on YouTube Wednesday, “Female” was written by Shane McAnally, Nicolle Galyon and Ross Copperman amid movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other entertainment industry figures being accused of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct in recent weeks.

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“The writers wrote this song on Oct. 10 and I heard it the next day,” Urban told Rolling Stone Country. “I got to hear it fresh out of the oven, and it was instant love for me. I know all three of [the writers] and I think obviously the tone of times right now was weighing on all of them, and compelled them to write this song. It affected me not just as a husband but also as a father of two young girls and a son. I had a heart reaction — my first thought was that it was a gospel soul prayer mantra, all rolled into one.”

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“Female” explores themes of gender roles, equality, and consent. It begins, “When you hear somebody say somebody hits like a girl, how does that hit you? / Is that such a bad thing? / When you hear a song that they play sayin’ you run the world, do you believe it? / Will you live to see it?”

Urban told Rolling Stone Country the song represents “a single standalone piece that felt really strong to me” and a “pure reaction” he was compelled to take part in.

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The Aussie — up for five awards — opened up about the track again on the red carpet ahead of the CMAs, telling ABC News: “I heard this song about three weeks ago — a little less than that — and it just floored me. We’re working on the album right now, but I just halted everything because I just wanted to focus on that song.”

The 51st CMAs will broadcast live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday on ABC.

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